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Sue Barre Accorded “50 Directors Who Make a Difference” Award

posted Jan 8, 2018, 7:03 AM by Floyd Wygant   [ updated Jan 8, 2018, 7:04 AM ]
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For two decades, School Band and Orchestra Magazine’s “50 Directors Who Make a Difference” has focused the spotlight on outstanding music educators from each of these United States.

Honored directors were nominated by students, former and current colleagues, band parents, administrators, friends, former band directors who might have even taught them, and sometimes a spouse of a director who admires the hard work and dedication their other half gives to their school music programs.

This year, SB&O pored over 880 nominations, and narrowing it down was as difficult as ever. With the selections made, and with letters and emails sent, we asked each director to tell us of their proudest teaching moments, how they hope to make a difference in students’ lives, and the most important lessons they try to teach their students. Their answers are as varied and wonderful as the words spoken about them by those who submitted them for this recognition.

And with that, SBO presents the 2017 Class of 50 Directors Who Make a Difference.


Susan Brady Barre

Mrs. Barre

Waterville Public Schools, Band 5-12

Waterville, Maine

Total Years Teaching: 26 years

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moments are the “light bulb” moments. The opportunity to see students make a discovery and realize the significance. Over just the last week, I think of the student in 5th grade who began to develop the skill of practicing resulting in measurable improvement or the magic of tech week when the sophomore performs with the pit orchestra for the first time and everything comes together. The spark in the eye that says, “I just did that.” Those moments are my proudest moments, those moments are the reason I teach.

How do you hope to make a difference in your students’ lives?

It is my hope that the lessons that students learn in band, musical and others, result in each one of them becoming lifelong advocates and consumers of and for music and music education. Music Education is a venue to refine musical skills and so many other skills. Students learn to work together towards a common goal, compromise, deal with conflict, overcome disappointment and celebrate success and at times and comfort each other in times of sorrow. Students learn the importance of civic engagement through parades and performances and the significance one person can have within an organization and as an organization. If these lessons are carried forward into their adult lives I feel I have made a difference.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

The most important lesson I try to teach my students is to follow their passion. When we talk about careers after high school I speak to finding something they love to do and then finding a way to get paid for it. I am fortunate enough to still love my job after twenty-eight years. If through my words and action I can teach students that if you love your work it does not feel like work and more importantly that beyond work, family always comes first, then I feel that I have succeeded.

Read more about each state's influential directer at this link: