On March 8, 2017, GCS orchestra teachers Jay Pfeifer and Sean Patrick took a group of orchestra students to visit and perform for former orchestra director Susan Ellington. Susan had been fighting cancer in her retirement, and the teachers and students wanted to brighten her day and honor her.
From the original post:
“It was a meaningful morning for Susan, her family members, GHS teachers and students, and others who gathered to hear the music.
Susan, you have nurtured an orchestra program and planted seeds in the hearts of many who love music. The roots in your orchestra program are strong, and your students will continue to play on.”
Upon Susan’s passing on April 12, 2017, there was another post remembering her life as a teacher:
”On Monday evening, Goshen Community Schools lost long-time orchestra teacher/director Susan Ellington to cancer. There have been many tributes by former students and GHS faculty members on social media, and many expressions of support for Susan’s family. Susan was very special, and she will most certainly be missed. We take comfort in the fact that her love of music and people has been instilled in the hearts and minds of many students, and that her love will continue to grow through others.
Written by GHS graduate Emma Roth.
We weren’t the brightest students in the world, though we liked to think we were. We weren’t the best instrumentalists either. Trust me, if you’ve heard Carmel HS in Indianapolis play at ISSMA competition, you know that to be true. But there is something that we all had that we knew was special. We had Susan Ellington.
In all my years of playing in orchestra in Goshen Community Schools, I never had a director quite like Mrs. Ellington. She was kind, fiercely passionate, and she never gave up on her students. Each one was precious, and each one had a gift. She believed in the power of music to bring students of all backgrounds together. No, we weren’t always perfectly in tune. Sometimes the first violin section would muddle through a phrase of particularly challenging 16th notes and play very confidently on the cadence of the phrase. Mrs. Ellington always pushed us to be the best that we could be, but at the end of the day, we were creating something special together. It didn’t have to be perfect for her to be proud of the work we had done. We were all beautifully flawed people coming together to work towards a common goal.
Mrs. Ellington has done so much for music education, and thousands of students have been impacted by her work. Brava, Susan. You will be missed, but we celebrate your life through song and fond memories.
And then, today, so appropriately, GMS posted this: We miss our GMS students! Here is a message from Mr. Patrick: “Music will always be there for you. Music will be with you in times of joy. Music will be with you in times of heartbreak. Music will be with you when you are lonely or frustrated. Make music.”
So today, during this Teacher Appreciation Week, we honor our amazing GCS teachers. You are planting seeds that will grow in students and make an impact that will continue to grow and nourish the world wherever our students may go.
THANK YOU, teachers. You do critical work that will last long after you retire!