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Davey S. Yarborough, Director of Jazz Studies, Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Davey S. Yarborough, Director of Jazz Studies, Duke Ellington School of the Arts

During his 30 years of working with music students at Duke Ellington, Davey S. Yarborough has been recognized nationally for his contributions to jazz education. This past year, he was the Jazz Education Network’s John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year and a quarter-finalist for the Grammy Music Educator of the Year Award. But in reflecting on his students, Mr. Yarborough’s perspective extends far beyond music. “I try to put my students in an environment of success and achievement, while giving them the tools, resources, and nurturing needed to inspire them to dream, act, and attain, and to contribute back to the community that produced them,” he explains. He measures success by his many students who have earned college degrees and become music educators themselves, and by the seniors from his jazz studies program who graduate in the top tiers of their class—including valedictorians and salutatorians. Principal Rory Pullens praises his tireless commitment to arts education and his “ability to inspire young musicians to believe that they, too, can make their mark on this industry.”

Mr. Yarborough has called Washington, D.C. home for his entire life; he attended Whittier Elementary, Paul and Rabaut Junior High Schools, and Coolidge Senior High School, and received degrees from Federal City College, University of the District of Columbia, and Howard University. His daughter, Davie Celeste Yarborough, grew up attending DCPS schools, including Duke Ellington, before returning to her father’s school as an English teacher. His wife of 35 years, Esther Williams Yarborough, is his partner in many extracurricular music initiatives, and Mr. Yarborough insists that he couldn’t do what he does without her support. Looking back at his 37 years in DCPS, Mr. Yarborough recalls, “The first time that I saw the light in the eyes of a student who made a major breakthrough, I was hooked.”