By Angela Parone
The Manilow Music Project and WFLA-TV, NewsChannel 8 teamed up to honor Tampa’s “Outstanding Music Teacher,” Kevin Fuller, by giving him a VIP experience to Barry Manilow’s concert at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, complete with a chance to meet Manilow before his concert on Friday, January 31. Manilow surprised Fuller with a $10,000 donation to the Hillsborough County Public Schools System Music Program. The Manilow Music Project and the Tampa Bay Times Forum each contributed $5,000 to the music program.
Fuller was chosen from over 200 nominations received by WFLA-TV, who reached out to their viewing audience asking them to nominate a music teacher they felt deserved a VIP concert experience which included limousine transportation to and from the concert, dinner, two front row tickets and a chance to meet Manilow backstage. After reviewing the nominations in an open process, WFLA tallied the votes and three finalists were selected. Fuller received the highest number of votes and was selected as the winner. Fuller has been a teacher in the Hillsborough County Public Schools System for 33 years, where he has taught music at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
In her nomination, one of Fuller’s former students wrote this about him: “My middle school band director changed my life. He has gotten thousands of kids involved in music and changed lives. Countless nights you can walk into school and see him tinkering on a student’s instrument, hoping to save them the cost of taking it to an expensive repair shop or even printing music off for kids using his own materials.” Manilow said, “I am thrilled to honor a local music hero like Kevin and all of our heroes who make daily sacrifices to keep the art of music alive in our public schools across the country. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the influence of my music teachers.”
“NewsChannel 8 is proud to partner with the Manilow Music Project and honor Kevin Fuller for his commitment to the music program at Mann Middle School and to his students. We also thank all the nominees and voters who participated,” said Brad Moses, President & General Manager of WFLA-TV. The Manilow Music Project is part of Manilow’s non-profit, the Manilow Fund for Health and Hope. The mission statement of the Manilow Music Project highlights the importance of music programs in our schools and donates instruments and materials to school music programs.
For more information, please visit www.manilowmusicproject.org.