Susan Laushman named NFHS Outstanding Music Educator

Mrs. Susan Laushman, PHS Choir Director, has been selected as the 2020-21 Outstanding Music Educator Award by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The National Federation of State High School Association’s (NFHS) Outstanding Music Educator Award recognizes high school or college band, choral or orchestral directors, supervisors, and adjudicators. It is awarded to individuals whose contributions have impacted high school activities programs. Nominees must exemplify the highest standards of ethical conduct and carry the endorsement of their respective state high school association. Significant and/or long-term contributions to interscholastic high school music activities are important criterion in evaluating candidates.

The award represents NFHS Section 5 (Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.)

In the fall of 1985, she began her teaching career in Pittsburg High School as the vocal music teacher. From 1997-2004, Susan taught vocal music at Carl Junction, MO Junior/Senior High School. She then moved her career back to Pittsburg High School where she currently teaches Vocal Music, Piano Lab and Music Theatre.

In the May 2003, Ms. Laushman prepared an ensemble of 40 Carl Junction High School vocal music students and traveled to New York City to perform with Dr. John Leavitt at Carnegie Hall through Mid-America Productions. The choir was comprised of 250 high school students from across the country. Dr. Leavitt made special arrangements for her to serve as rehearsal accompanist, assist throughout the process, sing with the mass choir for the performance, and was featured pianist with the orchestra during the finale. Once again, in Nov 2005 and May 2008, she rehearsed and prepared ensembles of Pittsburg High School vocal music students who traveled to New York City to perform with Dr. John Leavitt at Carnegie Hall.

Susan’s choral ensembles consistently receive 1 ratings at KSHSAA State Music Festivals. These groups include: Encore (Mixed); Pittsburg Women’s Chorus and the Pittsburg Men’s Chorus. Pittsburg High School annually has 35-40 choir students selected to the KMEA District Honor Choir and 8-14 vocal students selected each year to the KMEA All-State Honor Choir.

In 2009, Ms. Laushman created and developed the Pittsburg Multigenerational Choir program to represent the District’s Mission Statement of partnership with home, school and community that work collaboratively to empower all students to learn while promoting respect for self and others. She also designed the fall curriculum to invite community members into her vocal music classroom three times a week for nine weeks to sing along side her high school students in preparation for a public concert. Susan arranged all the choral music for the group over the summer and the season runs from the beginning of school through October. The choir has exceeded 175 members in recent years, incorporating over 75 high school faculty, parents and community members.

The NFHS Music Association Outstanding Music Educator Award was first given in 1989 when seven individuals received sectional awards. Since that time, 190 sectional and 349 state awards have been presented. Added to those totals for 2020-2021 are seven sectional awards and fifteen state awards. Also, 1989 marked the beginning of an annual selection of a NFHS Citation recipient. The Citation is one of the highest awards presented by the NFHS in the fine arts.

USD 250 extends their congratulations and many thanks to Mrs. Laushman for her award-winning work in our community, with our staff, and students.