Longtime music educator James Petri accepted two national accolades at a recent Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education meeting.
Petri, who serves as music curriculum leader for the school district, received a Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association. He also accepted a Patriot Employer Award from the U.S. Department of Defense for his support of the U.S. Army Reserve.
The inscription on his National Band Association Award reads, “Through professional leadership you have inspired and motivated excellence in musical performance. Your record of service to our profession is one of which you may be justifiably proud, and it will serve as a model to others.”
Founded in 1960, the National Band Association is the largest professional organization for bands in the world. The association was organized for the purpose of promoting the musical and educational significance of bands.
Petri earned the second award, from the Department of Defense, after being nominated by LBUSD music teacher Stephanie Faria, a sergeant in the Reserve and a member of the 300th Army Band. She commended Petri for his strong support when she was called to duty.
“He has gone above and beyond when the Army has asked me to go on active duty,” Faria said. “For example, last year when Hurricane Harvey happened they asked if there was a team that would be willing to go out for relief efforts. Sometimes the Army asks with a moment’s notice, and in this case I believe it was less than 24 hours. And I gave Jim (Petri) a call and said, Jim, what do I do? And without hesitation he said Stephanie, you need to go support the military. You need to go support those families. He not only took care of me, he took care of my students. It can be stressful sometimes just dropping everything and leaving not only work but leaving my students. I wouldn’t be able to do that without him.”
“I’m extremely surprised. More than surprised,” Petri said upon accepting the patriot honor. “Stephanie, it is an honor and privilege to know you, to know that you serve in our military, and that you give your best first of all to our students. I’ve been very, very proud to assist you in whatever you need.”
Petri also thanked the National Band Association for recognizing him.
“It’s quite an honor, and it is my privilege to be part of the Long Beach Unified School District. The support we get from the administration, the support we get from each of the schools, this is what makes Long Beach so unique. It’s just the partnership that we have and everyone working together to make this an exciting and truly remarkable school district.”
Petri has worked for more than 30 years as a music educator and advocate. He has taught choir here, helped coordinate the annual Long Beach Symphony Youth Concerts, directed musical theatre for Longfellow Elementary School, and coordinated the Harmony Project, which helps to bring music education to children from disadvantaged communities. He also performs locally as a pipe organist and last summer played pipe organ at the Vatican, among other international locales, accompanying student performers from LBUSD high schools.