Bernadette BerthelotteBernadette Berthelotte received a Community Arts Leadership Award from the Windsor Endowment for the Arts.

Arts organization honours alumni

Alumna and adjunct professor Bernadette Berthelotte (BMus 1981, B.Ed 1985, M.Ed 1990) has dedicated her professional life to music education. Last Friday, her outsized impact on arts education in Windsor-Essex was recognized with the Windsor Endowment for the Arts 2024 Community Arts Leadership Award.

“It is a privilege for me to advocate for the arts in public education and in the lives of children,” says Dr. Berthelotte. “Not because we are making artists, musicians, dancers or actors, but because we are aiding in the development of human beings and offering them ways to enhance the quality of their lives, throughout their lives.”

Known as “Dr. B,” Berthelotte spent 23 years developing and leading a thriving instrumental music program at W.F. Herman Secondary School. She created the “Reach Ahead” program that allows students in Grades 7 and 8 to participate in their local high school band, which enhances their skills and eases the transition to high school. Her commitment to music education and its impact on the development of young people has not only shaped the futures of her students but also set a high standard for educational excellence within the Greater Essex County District School Board.

In collaboration with local music educators and vendors, Berthelotte founded MusicFest Windsor, a regional festival affiliated with MusicFest Canada. The festival strives to provide an opportunity for students and educators across Southwestern Ontario to share their musical achievements through a performance venue.

She is the creator of “The String Project.” Inspired by Venezuela’s “El Sistema,” it is an after-school program at two schools in Windsor where children learn to play the violin from Grade 3 onward. Berthelotte firmly believes that music education fosters community, confidence, and success in young learners, and is already seeing incredible developments in program participants.

“Thousands upon thousands of studies that utilize the arts as part of a holistic education for all children continue to find that self-efficacy and self-esteem are heightened with these experiences,” she says. “Common sense, in addition to science, tells us that when children feel better about what they do, they will do better in everything.”

Following her retirement from the school board, Berthelotte has continued to share her passion and expertise through teaching music education courses in the UWindsor Faculty of Education. She also contributes to the Continuing Teacher Education Program, crafting and instructing additional qualification courses.

She regularly performs with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and freelances in Windsor and Detroit. Her extensive orchestral experience includes performing with the Detroit Civic Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Metropolitan Orchestra, the Canadian Chamber Orchestra, the Regina Symphony Orchestra, and other ensembles.

Berthelotte received her recognition from the Windsor Endowment for the Arts during a community celebration May 31 at the Mackenzie Hall Cultural Centre.

Other leadership awards recipients with a UWindsor connection included alumni Christopher Lawrence Menard (BA 2012) in the literary arts category, Hugh Leal (BA 1973, BComm 1978) in the performing arts music category, and Arts Collective Theatre, directed by Chris Rabideau (BA 2008, B.Ed 2009).

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