About Guiding Success

The Duval VPK Orchestra is the outreach component of Guiding Success - a kindergarten to college pathway initiative. This is the only Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) orchestra program in the State of Florida guiding children along a pathway of success from early childhood to adulthood, from kindergarten to college.

What We Do

Guiding Success recognizes that the parent is a child’s first teacher and their greatest mentor.  
 
This parent/mentor relationship is the foundation for Guiding Success to begin working with children as early as three years old.  We then develop an educational road map by providing community-based resources in the pre-kindergarten early childhood education environment that will help the parent guide the child through a lifetime of success.  Guiding Success is truly a kindergarten to college pathway initiative. 

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Our Program

Guiding Success is a program developed by League of Florida Orchestras, Inc. in partnership with the NASEMBA Business Alliance to create the Duval VPK Orchestra which was introduced to the community during a special summer music camp in 2010.  The first group of graduates was 

Reaching our goal of raising $150,000 means that we will be able to present 185 children with scholarship vouchers to cover the cost of participating in our program. These vouchers provide music lessons and mentorship to students - beginning with the violin, while still in preschool.  This will also enable students to participate in the Duval VPK String Ensemble.

The Future

A college savings account is established for each student and financial literacy training is provided to the parents in order to help them guide the child's financial decisions from kindergarten through college.

It has been said that music gives wings to the mind and flight to the imagination. Research has shown that children, through music in the early childhood environment and by opening a college savings account in their name, are seven times more likely to go to college. Most of the students in this ensemble enrolled at four years old and are now excelling in their first few years of public school.

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On March 16, 2002 Richard Cuff and his wife Miriam gave their daughter Korah a surprise birthday party at the house of a stranger - a stranger to Korah - Lorna Greenwood.  With one candle placed atop her favorite - a strawberry cheesecake from Cheesecake by Evelyn - the family, including 2-year old Cameron, along with Ms. Lorna, stood around the cake and to sing Happy Birthday.  When Miriam asked Korah what she wished for Korah replied, "A violin".  I was obvious that Korah would wish for a violin because Korah started reading on her own at 18 months old and since the age of two would walk around the house pretending to play the violin.  Her wish came true and on that day Korah was presented her first violin and her first private lesson with Ms. Lorna.  On the way home a very excited Korah asked her dad id he would get a violin for all the girls in her kindergarten class.  After the initial thought of resistance Cuff began planning what originally called No Strings Attached.  The Guiding Success program was born through Korah's request to get a violin for all of her friends.

In the summer of 2008 while contracted as a consultant to the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and serving in the role of Orchestra Manager for the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra, Cuff launched the Jump Start String Summer Music Camp in partnership with the Potter's House International Ministry.  In 2009 Cuff designed the Jump Start Strings Program as an after school program, consulted on writing the grant to the Moran Foundation, received $30,000 to partner with Community in Schools and the Jump Start String Program was born.

In March of 2011 Cuff partnered with Joann Walker, owner of All About Kids Preschool to create the All About Kids VPK Music Academy.  That summer the program began with four students and in just over a year had grown to serving 16 students; The program was given a name - Guiding Success -  and the most advanced group of students was named The J.H. Walker String Ensemble in honor of the kind contribution of Ms. Joann Walker.  The following year 7 of our students went on to public and private elementary schools and were continuing their music education by working with our afterschool music mentors and coaching volunteers.

On March 30, 2013 we kicked off our third year with our annual Guiding Success Family Fun Day at the new Blossom Ridge Community Arts Market within the Dunn Avenue Business Center as we seek to raise $150,000 to provide tuition vouchers for 74 students to enter our program.