SEMYO Bravura Music Educator Award

SEMYO is pleased to announce that John Adams Middle School orchestra director Dr. Sarah Rusin is this year’s recipient of the Bravura Award for Inspiring Excellence in Music Education. Dr. Rusin was nominated for her musical expertise as well as her kindness, positivity, and willingness to go above and beyond to meet her students’ needs. The award will be presented at the 8th Annual SEMYO It’s Instrumental: An Evening of Chamber Music

event on Friday, October 27 from 6-8:30 PM at the Historic Chateau Theatre in downtown Rochester. In addition to the presentation of the Bravura Award, this event will include dinner, music performances featuring SEMYO students and area musicians, and a dessert auction. Information and tickets for the event can be found at and all proceeds directly benefit SEMYO. 

Dr. Sarah Rusin has taught orchestra in the Rochester Public Schools for ten years: first at John Marshall High School and John Adams Middle School, and now solely at John Adams where she teaches full time after growing the program. In addition to teaching orchestra at John Adams, she plays viola in the Rochester Symphony where she shares a stand with her violist husband Rares Giurgiu. Prior to teaching at Rochester Public Schools, Dr. Rusin taught in Memphis, TN as part of the Gates Foundation to bring music education to low-income students. She says of the program: “through our shared passion for music education, my students developed and improved their cognitive and non-cognitive skills inside and outside of my classroom.” During her time in Memphis, she was a recipient of the Music Teachers National Association Award for State Chamber Music Ensemble, Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts Award for Outstanding Teaching, and Memphis City Schools Level 5 Teacher Rating.  

A native of Wisconsin, Dr. Rusin began teaching in high school when she taught viola lessons and sectionals for youth orchestra. She played in the Milwaukee, Chicago, Appleton, and Green Bay youth orchestras where she “loved meeting new friends and clinicians, participating in stimulating rehearsals, masterclasses, performing concerts, and experiencing summer music festivals.”

Dr. Rusin says she was inspired to discover her passion for music from her early lessons with her Suzuki viola teacher: “I was completely in awe of her! I loved her beautiful tone and natural approach to playing.” She also cites studying with members of the Vermeer (string) Quartet in college as an important influence in her career. From the Vermeer Quartet she learned to “listen, work collaboratively, develop musicianship, and refine her technique” which led to a “deeper learning and a lifetime of friendships!”

When asked why she thinks music education is important, Dr. Rusin wrote:

“I believe music education can be the same vessel and outlet for my students that it provided for me. The music we experience in my classroom can inspire awe, forge bonds, improve our focus and concentration, and teach us to work together. Perhaps my favorite role that music provides is the ability for my students and I to express ourselves very organically and share in an identity that unites us both inside and outside of the classroom. Teaching my students is the best part of my job!”

  • Dr. Rusin is the 8th recipient of the Bravura Award for Inspiring Excellence in Music Education. Past recipients include:
  • Anthony Boldt (Band Director, Kasson-Mantorville High School)
  • Ryan Anderson (Band Director, Dover-Eyota Public Schools)
  • Joseph Mish (Orchestra Conductor, Pine Island Public Schools)
  • Aaron Cole (Band Director, Mayo High School)
  • DeAnn Spencer (Violin Teacher)
  • Amanda Kaus (Band Director, Century High School)
  • Lori Ringen-Poencet (Orchestra Director, Friedell Middle School)

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