At a special Awards Breakfast of the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce, Valentina Jotovic of Hunterdon Academy of the Arts was named “Entrepreneur of the Year.” The ceremony, which was attended by a large number of Hunterdon business owners, took place on November 22 at the Beaver Brook Country Club in Annandale.
The Chamber’s coveted “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” is presented annually to an individual of significant business accomplishments. This year’s winner, Valentina Jotovic has distinguished herself with her many successes as C.E.O. of Flemington-based Hunterdon Academy of the Arts [HAA], a performing arts school she has co-owned with her husband Antonius Bittmann since 2007. In addition to her work with HAA, Ms. Jotovic also headed a sister institution, YOUniversity of Music and Arts, in Bethlehem, PA from 2011 through 2014. Her arts leadership and innovative educational initiatives have enriched the lives of thousands of families and children who have attended Hunterdon Academy of the Arts to benefit especially from its outstanding early childhood curricula–MusikGarten and ActinGarten–and music lesson program. In recognition of her service to the local community, Ms. Jotovic was recently named one of Hunterdon’s “Top 10 Movers & Shakers of 2016” by the Hunterdon Happening List.
Much of the school’s success is a direct result of Jotovic’s educational philosophy, which is based on the “multiple intelligences” concept developed at Harvard University. Applying this concept in their Music and Acting classrooms, HAA instructors are able to customize their teachings to the learning styles of each individual student. As Jotovic pointed out at the Award Ceremony, “we don’t teach the [musical] instrument; we teach the child.” Jotovic’s pedagogical approach has not only created a more enjoyable learning experience but led to a number of amazing student achievements in recent years: more than a dozen of HAA’s music lesson students–all children and teenagers–have won music competitions and/or performed in prestigious concert venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City.
Under Ms. Jotovic’s direction, Hunterdon Academy of the Arts has become the largest performing arts school in the County, with an enrollment of nearly 700 students per semester. To accommodate rapid enrollment growth, Ms. Jotovic opened a second Campus location in Lebanon in 2014, which now serves music lesson students especially from Clinton, Annandale, Glen Gardner, and Whitehouse. To teach such a large number of students, Hunterdon Academy of the Arts employs over 40 artists, who help maintain the cultural backbone of Hunterdon County and inspire many local families to support events and organizations in the community, such as Flemington Rocks, World Music Day, Jazz Festival, Black Potato Festival, and other music and arts-related endeavors.
HAA has received numerous institutional awards and honors. Most recently, the school was voted the County’s “Top Music Program” by the Hunterdon Happening List. Other distinctions have included Kindermusik International’s “Maestro” Award, and, three times, Musikgarten’s “Exemplary Program Award.” Moreover, HAA was named a Founding School and New Jersey Assessment Center of the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program, designed by the prestigious Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada.
Earlier this year, HAA celebrated its 35th Anniversary with a Grand Reopening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony conducted by the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Jotovic is optimistic about her school’s future: “We are very fortunate for having such strong support in the community, and look forward to offering our families the best possible performing arts instruction for many more years to come.” For more information about Hunterdon Academy of the Arts, visit www.HunterdonAcademyOfTheArts.com