Sue Ewing

TODA Orchestra Director of the Year - 2013



Sue Ewing retired this year after a remarkable 39 years of teaching middle school orchestra (37 years at Haggard Middle School in Plano ISD).  During her tenure at Haggard ISD, Sue built a program of strong tradition and support in the community, with the addition of a new fine arts wing completed in 2010 that she refers to as the Taj Mahal.  Sue’s dedication to the Haggard music program has earned her great respect from the staff, administration and the students, and the orchestra programs have consistently received Sweepstakes awards at UIL for 35 consecutive years, 13 TMEA MS Honor Orchestra finals placements, and the TMEA Honor Full Orchestra in 2007. 

Middle school students have always been Sue’s motivation and inspiration for keeping young at heart, flexible, and creative, and her students are full of admiration and praise for her. Here are some of their comments:

“ You are my inspiration. You showed me not to be afraid. I feel like you have showed me a second language that I will never forget.”

“I learned so much from you - not only how to play an instrument, but also how to practice and persevere, how to document my work and keep it organized (oh, the folder checks!), and how to be part of a team. For all of your amazing years of dedication, for leading great orchestras, and most of all for caring about us, Thank You!”

“You have changed my outlook on music and taught me that learning is fun. I grew so much with you and you've inspired me to not only be a better musician, but be a better person. You're the best...I love you and will miss you.”

Sue began studying music in third grade with class piano lessons, and in sixth grade found her true love in music – the cello. After attending Southwestern at Memphis (now Rhodes College) as a math/music major for two years, she returned to her home state of Texas and graduated cum laude from the University of North Texas. Sue began teaching in Dallas ISD at the unbelievable starting salary of $6,727.98! In 1976 she was hired in Plano ISD as the third teacher in the orchestra program begun just the year before, and began an amazing journey of developing the foundation for the orchestra program.

Sue has been a mentor to many student teachers, some now teaching in PISD, as well as assistant directors who have become successful head directors in Plano ISD and around the state. One of her former assistant directors calls her “a very supportive mentor who pushes the people that she works with to be the best they can possibly be”; another colleagues states, “Sue is one of those rare directors able to dismiss her own ego and look for the best way to teach her students, in that if a less experienced or less successful director has an idea that she believes will work better, she will use it without hesitation.”

Sue is reflective and methodical in her approach to pedagogy – always have a plan and a process for every facet of classroom instruction.  Her ability to reflect on her goals and achieve a consistent and successful product is one reason she has been chosen the 2013 TODA Orchestra Director of the Year.

When asked about life after retirement, Sue shares the following thoughts about her remarkable career and her plans for the future: “I want to thank my family, friends, students and colleagues for the marvelous retirement celebrations. My heartfelt thanks to the TODA Board and those who nominated me for this award – I am honored and humbled by this recognition.  My retirement plans include no alarm clocks, morning walks, quiet time reading on my patio, playing cello with the Allen Symphony, scuba diving in Roatan, bagpiping in Scotland and time with family and friends. I am excited to begin my new journey, but will always cherish this career that has given so much back to me. “