New Mexico School for the Arts Receives ‘Exemplary School’ Designation From Art Schools Network

NMSA Winter Dances 2014. Photo by Paulo T. Photography

NMSA News:

New Mexico School for the Arts (NMSA) has received the coveted designation of “Exemplary School” by Arts Schools Network (ASN), the nation’s largest professional membership organization of specialized arts schools. Created to highlight a school’s commitment to excellence, the Exemplary School designation is presented to an ASN member in recognition of the school’s efforts to strategically evaluate its purpose, operations, and educational programs.

“This national recognition and designation is a testament to our students, parents, faculty, staff, legislators and private donors,” Riis Gonzales, director, NMSA-Art Institute said.“Together we are creating an exceptional statewide school for our young and passionate New Mexican artists.”

The honor signifies that NMSA has gone beyond simply fulfilling basic educational services, and continues to evaluate strengths, aspirations, areas for improvement and consistency with current programs, in addition to meeting future challenges.

“We are constantly evaluating ourselves and doing our best to improve the level of education and training at NMSA,” NMSA Head of School Cindy Montoya said. “These remarkable students come from every corner of our state and deserve an environment where they can learn, be creative, and succeed academically and artistically.”

Located in Santa Fe, NMSA is New Mexico’s only chartered, residential public secondary school that offers a dual mastery arts program together with a rigorous academic education leading to a high school diploma. The arts education curricula in dance, music, theater and visual arts includes classroom coursework, public performances and exhibitions, weekly applied lessons for all music students (vocal and instrumental), and master classes with distinguished guest artists who demonstrate professional standards of practice and performance. Students spend a normal school day focused on academic studies with afternoons devoted to their arts studies.

NMSA is a public/private partnership comprised of a legislatively created, residential, public high school and the NMSA-Art Institute, a nonprofit arts educational institution. NMSA’s purpose is to provide the highest standards of excellence in preparing New Mexico’s artistically talented students to compete in the national arena for post-secondary education and/or professional careers in the arts.

NMSA was established in 2008 and opened in 2010. Its rigorous dual academic and mastery arts curricula have resulted in a 96 percent graduation rate. US News & World Report recently rated NMSA among the best high schools in the country. “Our dream of creating a statewide school for New Mexican artists is becoming a reality,” said Chair of the NMSA Board of Directors and NMSA Governing Council, Catherine Oppenheimer. “We still have a lot of work to do, but with the support of our community we will continue to push forward and leave a permanent legacy for our state’s young artists.”

NMSA is deeply grateful to the Arts Schools Network for recognizing its achievements and high quality instruction in arts education. Dedicated to excellence and leadership in arts education, ASN is a non-profit professional organization founded in 1981. Its mission is to provide leaders in arts schools with support, quality resources and networking opportunities. ASN has provided services, programs, conferences and events to support these goals for over 30 years. To learn more, visit NMSA is located in the former St. Francis Cathedral School, 275 E. Alameda in Santa Fe. For more information, visit:

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