St. Louis Principal Presented “Principal of the Year” Award

St. Louis Symphony Presents “Principal of the Year” Award to SLPS Principal
Originally published in the summer 2011 edition of The Leader

The St. Louis Public School District is pleased to announce that Debra Leto, principal at Mason School of Academic and Cultural Literacy, was named Principal of the Year by the St. Louis Symphony on April 18. An educator and a school leader with the district since 1994, Leto partnered with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra while an instructional coordinator at Carver Elementary.

“Carver School is located in the Grandel Center, a few blocks from Powell Hall, and I remember the symphony musicians wheeling their instruments on a weekly basis the two blocks to the school to perform for the students,” said Leto.

From Carver to Jefferson Elementary and then to Shaw Visual and Performing Elementary School, Leto maintained her connection with the symphony. As a principal, Leto received the award for her influential role in the development of the symphony’s Adopt-a-School program, which teaches a variety of musical concepts during the school year.

“At Shaw, our partnership blossomed into more when Marc Thayer accepted my challenge of teaching Suzuki-style violin to the second grade classes,” she said.

The Adopt-A-School program is facilitated by the symphony’s education staff collaborating with partner schools’ music specialists and administration and is presented at no cost to schools. The program is intended for second grade, as a 12–16 week program, for those teachers and administrators who are motivated to add another level of resources to their students’ learning.

Special opportunities include STL Symphony musician visits from each instrument family, a visit from a conductor, a special interactive demonstration of the percussion family on the stage at Powell Hall, tickets to a Kinder Konzert at Powell Hall, professional development in co-teaching and access to Instrument Playground Kits. Each school puts on a final cumulative event in collaboration with STL Symphony staff and musicians.

David Robertson, St. Louis Symphony music director, presented the award to Leto before an April 15 concert at Powell Hall featuring pianist Yefim Bronfman performing Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1.” Leto’s school’s second grade students performed “Peter and the Wolf” with symphony members in May.