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BOSTON -- Tuesday, November 21, 2023 -- Maria Doreste Velazquez, a music teacher at the Edison K-8 School, is the recipient of the prestigious 2023 Keys of Inspiration Music Teacher of the Year Award, presented by the Lang Lang International Music Foundation (LLIMF). This award celebrates Ms. Doreste Velazquez's unwavering commitment to fostering creativity and inclusivity within her music program, exemplifying the core values upheld by both Boston Public Schools and the Lang Lang International Music Foundation.

Ms. Doreste Velazquez's selection is grounded in her unwavering commitment to delivering an inclusive, inspiring music program that celebrates every student's distinct talents and perspectives. Her infectious enthusiasm, coupled with her vision for diversity in music education, ensures that each student feels valued from day one.

"Maria embodies the essence of excellence in music education, instilling a love for music in her students while lifting up diversity and equity," said Superintendent Mary Skipper. "Her dedication to providing a nurturing and caring environment for our students is inspiring, and we are thrilled to see her efforts recognized on this esteemed platform."

Ms. Doreste Velazquez's outstanding achievements include spearheading fundraising initiatives to provide over 100 keyboards for student practice, fostering partnerships with neighboring universities to offer advanced students free 30-minute lessons, and championing differentiated instruction within a culturally responsive music education framework.

"Maria's passion for music education is evident in the vibrant and inclusive atmosphere she has cultivated in her classroom," said Edison K-8 Principal Elvis Henriquez. "Her commitment to fostering a love for music among our students has enriched our school community and inspired countless young minds to discover the joy of music."

The Lang Lang International Music Foundation commends Ms. Doreste Velazquez's extraordinary work and looks forward to celebrating her accomplishments at an upcoming event. As part of the award, Ms. Doreste Velazquez will receive a $5,000 prize, a certificate of recognition, and a prominent feature on the LLIMF website. She will also have the opportunity to lead a workshop for fellow educators at the highly anticipated 2024 Keys of Inspiration Conference.

"I am deeply honored to be recognized with the Keys of Inspiration Music Teacher of the Year Award," said Maria Doreste Velazquez. “Music has the power to inspire and transform lives, and it has been a privilege to witness the growth and creativity of my students through the Keys of Inspiration program. This award is a testament to the dedication of my students and the unwavering support of the Boston Public Schools."

"It is very important to me that we recognize and celebrate the achievements of our amazing Keys of Inspiration teachers and this year, I was proud to name Maria as our Teacher of the Year," said Lang Lang International Music Foundation Founder and President Lang Lang. "Her students are so lucky to have such a dedicated, creative, and inspiring teacher. Maria brings so much to her school community and to the Keys of Inspiration program and I was so impressed by everything she’s done in and out of the classroom to create opportunities for her students."

The Keys of Inspiration program, in partnership with the Boston Public Schools, integrates innovative piano-centric instruction into the mandatory curriculum, empowering students to develop their musical abilities and fostering social development. Through this initiative, students at the Edison K-8 Elementary School have found a creative outlet to express themselves and cultivate a sense of achievement within a supportive learning environment.