(WIVB) – A passion for music and a love of Lancaster brought Lynne Ruda to the position of director of orchestras at Lancaster High School.
“Once I started going for music, I wanted this to be it,” Ruda said. “I didn’t just want to be a music teacher, I wanted to be a music teacher at Lancaster High School and work with high school students.”
Ruda, who is in her 12th year of teaching at Lancaster High School, is one of only ten finalists in the country for the 2020 Grammy Music Educator Award.
She was nominated by a former student who is now a music education major at SUNY Fredonia.
“It’s pretty amazing- definitely humbling,” Ruda said. “It’s really exciting that the GRAMMYs think about music education, and I think it’s an important thing to recognize.”
The GRAMMY awards will be held on Jan. 26. Ruda said there’s not yet a timeline of when the winner of the award will be announced.
The winner will be flown out to LA for the award ceremony.
The other finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium and their schools will receive a matching $1,000 grant.
“I’ll be able to come up with something cool for the orchestra to use that funding for,” Ruda said.
Ruda is a Lancaster High School grad herself, from the class of 2004. She started out studying forensic science at the University of Central Florida before switching keys and pursuing music education at SUNY Fredonia.
She was hired at Lancaster High School “about two weeks” after graduating and received her Master’s degree from SUNY Fredonia as well.
In addition to teaching, she’s also a volunteer firefighter and a board trustee for the Village of Lancaster.
She’s the adviser for the schoool’s First Responders Club and senior class adviser.
“I get to know my music students but I also get to know students across the building,” Ruda said.
Lancaster High School senior Genevieve Fontana has known Ruda since seventh grade, when she started taking private lessons from her.
“She’s passionate, dedicated to her job, a breath of fresh air,” Fontana, a cello player, said. “She’s such an inspiration both inside the classroom and out.”
Maya Anna, a junior who plays violin, started in LHS’ symphony orchestra as a freshman.
“She really helped me come into my own with music,” Anna said. “She’s made me realize how meaningful it can be, and how stressful it doesn’t have to be.”
Ruda says the most rewarding thing about teaching music is her students’ enthusiasm.
“Sometimes they will stay after school or come in before school, working on music,” Ruda said. “I think them finding themselves through music is the best thing I can see as a teacher.”