Susan Laushman, choir director at Pittsburg High School for the past 16 years, has been selected as the recipient of the 2020-21 Outstanding Music Educator Award by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The award, which represents Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, was announced this week by the Kansas State High School Activities Association.
The award recognizes high school or college band, choral or orchestral directors, supervisors, and adjudicators, and is given 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.
Laushman began her teaching career at PHS in 1985 as the vocal music teacher. From 1997-2004, she taught vocal music at Carl Junction, Missouri, 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 May 2003, she prepared an ensemble of 40 Carl Junction High School vocal music students and traveled to New York City to perform with John Leavitt at Carnegie Hall through Mid-America Productions. The choir was comprised of 250 high school students from across the country. 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.
In November 2005 and May 2008, she rehearsed and prepared ensembles of Pittsburg High School vocal music students to travel to New York City to perform with Leavitt at Carnegie Hall.
At PHS, her choral ensembles — including Encore (mixed), Women’s Chorus, and Men’s Chorus, consistently receive 1 ratings at KSHSAA State Music Festivals. PHS annually has 35 to 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, Laushman created and developed the Pittsburg Multigenerational Choir program to represent the district’s mission statement of partnership with home, school, and community. She designed the 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, and she arranged all of the choral music. The choir has exceeded 175 members in recent years.
She was awarded Music Educator of the Year by the Kansas Federation of Music Teachers Association in May 2007, and received the Pittsburg USD 250 Globe Award for 2006-07. In 2012, she was named KMEA music educator of the year for the State of Kansas.
Alumni of her program have said they consider the experience to be among the most memorable of their high school career.
Laushman is a graduate of Pittsburg State University.