CASPER, Wyo. — Natrona County High School Choral Director Steve Grussendorf has been named one of the 2021 “Outstanding Music Educators of the Year” by the Wyoming Music Educators Association.
The honor is bestowed upon music educators “who serve their students, schools, and communities in an exemplary way,” according to the Natrona County School District.
“Mr. Grussendorf began his music education career in 1985, spending his first four years teaching at nine elementary schools in Natrona County School District,” NCSD said on Friday. “In the fall of 1996, Mr. Grussendorf found his forever teaching home at Natrona County High School.”
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Grussendorf said he feels honored, particularly since he says Wyoming has a lot of great music educators.
“We have so many music educators who do great work, and I thought they should have picked one of them,” he said. “In a way, it validates what you do, knowing that your colleagues noticed.”
Grussendorf said that some highlights of his time working with students have been field trips. He and his students have traveled to places like New York City for performance showcases at Carnegie Hall. They were able to attend Broadway productions.
NCSD said that one of Grussendorf’s “favorite memories as a music educator is in the simplicity and beauty of home – the old Auto Shop at Natrona County High School.”
“During renovations at NCHS, the choir classroom moved to the Auto Shop for the school year, presenting many fun and unique challenges in adapting to a new environment not created for musical performance,” NCSD said. “Not one to step down from a challenge, Mr. Grussendorf used his creativity and diligence to create an exceptional learning environment for his students, making it, in the end, one of his favorite teaching memories.”
Grussendorf encourages students to follow and cultivate their passions. When students tell him they want to become a teacher, Grussendorf says: “I ask them, is there anything you could think of that you could do (besides teaching) that would make you happier? If they can think of something, I tell them to do that. If they cannot, then I tell them to be a teacher. I think schools should be filled with people passionate about teaching.”