“If you’re lucky, there is a teacher at your high school that changes your life. Scott Rush was that teacher for our kids at Wando,” said Wando Band supporters Ann and Jeff Evans.
“Obviously he’ll be missed, but we’re happy that he’s found a great opportunity in the community.” This came at the heels of his announcement to accept a job with Dorchester District II.
After 15 years, Wando High School band director Scott Rush has announced his departure from the school to pursue other activities. He made the announcement public last week.
With a heavy heart, he said the end of this school year would mark his final days at Wando. “It is with a tremendous amount of excitement that I announce that I’ll be joining the amazing team of arts educators in Dorchester District 2 as Director of Fine Arts,” he said. “Words cannot adequately express my gratitude to all of my students, past and present, and to all of the wonderful people and staff who have shared in the Wando journey. There is no way that I can personally thank everyone in the Wando family, but I’m going to spend the next few weeks trying to do so. Wando is a very special place and I will always treasure the heartfelt music making and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the finest young people anywhere. As I close one chapter and start another, I am renewed in my passion to further the cause of arts education and hope to serve others as a mentor, pedagogue, advocate and friend.”
He is director of bands. Under his directorship at Wando High School, Rush’s bands have received consistent “Superior” ratings in the areas of concert and marching band. The Wando Symphonic Band performed at the 2007 Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic and were the 2007 recipients of the Sudler Flag of Honor, administered by the John Philip Sousa Foundation. The Wando marching band was named a finalist at the Bands of America Grand National Championships in 2009.
In his new position, he said he will be exponentially helping more folks. And as the author and co-author of five books for music educators, that is one of the reasons this new job was appealing. “It is the opportunity to also positively affect teachers,” he said.
“Scott Rush is an incredible teacher and music professional who has provided extraordinary leadership at Wando since 1999. He is the author of three books used in colleges and universities on how to be a successful band director,” said Wando Principal Lucy Beckham. “He has not only written about it but has done it. Through the years, he has grown and developed the Wando Band into one of the premier programs in the nation. We are certainly sorry to see him move to a new position but understand that it is a new challenge with financial benefits which he needs to accept. He has assured me that we will have many talented candidates from across the country apply for the Director of Bands at Wando and will assist me with that search.”
Nancy Oxendine, a mother of two band students and a volunteer, said, “He challenged his students to be the best individuals they could be. To work hard, strive for the best possible performance the individual is capable to do, be a good example to others, and it’s never about winning because it was about doing one’s best. I wish him continued success in raising the arts and music education program to higher awareness at all level of a student’s primary and secondary education. And that he will continue to influence the school board, administrators and teachers about the importance of arts education.”
“During my time here, we won nine consecutive state marching band championships. We performed at the Midwest International Orchestra, which was the pinnacle of what we do in a high school band program. We were awarded the Sudler Flag of Honor in 2007 and in the last 14 years, had the most number of students in the South Carolina All-State Band,” he said.
“All of those accomplishments, the students worked hard to achieve and that sets goals for the program in those beginning years.” Rush explained that the students and the band directors set goals together. “I’ve always believed that the teacher provides the information. It’s up to the student to decide if it is relevant information.”
He said the last 15 years have been a wonderful situation where a lot of things came together to make for a good thing. “We’ve had amazing support from the band parents, the booster organization, the administration and the community. All of those folks had a hand in it. And we have amazing middle school feeder programs. We wouldn’t have the successes we had if we didn’t have that.”
In his new role as Director of Fine Arts for Dorchester District II, his role is to do several things. One is to be a mentor and an advocate for arts teachers in the district in all areas and on all levels. He’s going from positively affecting 260 students to 24,000 students.
“I will do everything I can to further arts education in District II from securing funding through grant opportunities to the myriad of day-to-day responsibilities,” said Rush.
Of course, what he’ll miss most about Wando is the interaction with the students and “the ability to stand in front of wonderful young people who love making music.”
When Rush came to Wando, the band director before him grew the program to an incredible level of music making. Rush then grew the program from 104 students to 260. The accolades have happened because of the students’ desire to work hard, he said. Rush said that because Wando is a nationally recognized band program, whoever takes his place will be fantastic. “I’m not worried about that. I think that person is going to continue to grow and prosper the band program.
“In the world of software, key developers who enable a company to grow to the billion-dollar level are called ‘10Xers.’ Scott Rush is the 10Xer of music programs,” said Chris Starr. “South Carolina is lucky to have kept him in the state. Opportunities abound for his leadership and faculty expertise in secondary and university settings. Scott Rush is a leader of leaders. He has taken the Wando HS music program to the national level by setting lofty expectations and providing the motivation to reach them for engaged students.”
This year’s final concert (and Rush’s last) will be Thursday, May 15 at 7 p.m. in the Wando Performing Arts Center.