European Tours and Formal Education: Growing up in Serbia, Ms. Jotovic's childhood was steeped in the local traditions of live music making and competitive folk dancing. She started playing the flute at age 8 and joined her first dance ensemble when she was 10 years old. She also took voice lessons for 3 years. By the time she was 18, Valentina had toured numerous European countries, performing in Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, Ukraine, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Belgium and the Netherlands. As a teenager, she also sang in a cover band and performed in local venues with her brother and several friends. Valentina won several regional music competitions and was accepted into a highly competitive music program at University of Arts in Belgrade (Serbia) at age 17. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Flute Performance in 2000. Ms. Jotovic also attended the highly acclaimed "Frantz Liszt" conservatory in Budapest (Hungary) on a scholarship for a year. Shortly thereafter, Valentina started her graduate studies at Rutgers University where she graduated with a Master's in Flute Performance (2005). Valentina speaks three languages and attributes the ease of learning them to her music training (ear training, specifically). As an educator, Ms. Jotovic taught private music lessons, as well as group classes for over eight years before becoming a full-time business owner and entrepreneur. She is certified in two early childhood music programs: Kindermusik and Musikgarten.
National TV Reporter and Editor: During some of her college years--from 1996 through the summer of 1999--Valentina broadened her horizons and used her creative skills while working for the Serbian National Television (RTS) as one of its youngest music program editors and reporters. She interviewed musicians and celebrities, while also filming interesting stories about art, music history and local young musicians. It was during these years that she realized her passion for interviewing and discovering talented people, a skill she uses to this day. In early March of 1999, Valentina was asked to join a team of TV anchors. This could have easily been the start of an exciting career for life had the building she worked in not been bombed later that month, killing 16 of her colleagues and friends. Surviving the Balkan wars in the '90's and especially the two-month long bombing of Serbia in 1999 taught Valentina a lot about trauma and loss, but also about grit and perseverance. She credits her mental strength and endurance to rigorous music training and focused skill-building since childhood. Being a successful artist, musician, business owner and a strong but empathetic human being are just some of the skills and qualities she acquired during her years of training and performing. One of the many reasons Valentina is so passionate about music and art education is because she believes that brain development, problem-solving and social skills, confidence and creativity can get us through many life challenges, while also helping us find joy in the small and big things in life. "La vita è bella" (life is beautiful).
Certified Business Coach and Business Productivity Expert: Ms. Jotovic has worked with some of the most well-known business coaches in the US to improve various operational aspects of her performing arts schools. Marty Fort, Dan Kennedy and Clint Salter are among them. Over the years, she has become a strong advocate for high-performance standards, quality service, effective time-management, and efficiency in managing her staff. When tackling her schools' profitability challenges in 2018, she began working with Mike Michalowitz's team of coaches and became a Certified Profit First Professional. As such she is trained to implement innovative financial strategies that ensure financial health and longevity of the organization. Natural understanding of math and numbers is a common positive "side-effect" of music education, as is the case with many highly trained musicians. While growing and developing her businesses, Valentina has worked extensively with all members of her team to infuse the work environment with new research in psychology, brain development and best management practices. On many levels, this process has been transformative for her businesses but has also shaped Valentina's approach as a coach and mentor of other professionals. The educational philosophy of the schools she owns is influenced by the "Multiple Intelligences" theory, which was first developed by Professor Howard Gardner at Harvard University. While refining the school's special adaptation of the Multiple Intelligences concept, Valentina consulted with Professor Branton Shearer at Kent State University, who is one of the leading authorities in applying Gardner's theories to various educational settings.
Awards and Honors: In recognition of her many successes, especially with Hunterdon Academy of the Arts, Ms. Jotovic was named "Entrepreneur of the Year" 2016 by the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce, and one of the Top 10 Hunterdon County Movers & Shakers of 2016 by Hunterdon Happening. She has been featured as a special guest on the "Talented People" and "Raising Conscious Kids" shows of the Hunterdon Chamber Radio.