Colleagues and students reflect on Rice’s service to BUHS

Mitch Davis

BRATTLEBORO — Music teacher/band director/choral director, Brattleboro Union High School and Brattleboro Area Middle School, 1974–2004

I had the honor of working with Steve Rice for 17 years, and it was the highlight of my teaching career.

Steve did his student teaching semester at BUHS in the spring of 1987 under the supervision of then–band director Juli Holmes and he was hired to replace her in the fall of 1987. I was his supervisor and colleague who shared a whole lot of concerts, fundraisers, festivals, trips, and conversations for a whole lot of years.

Steve is a wonderful, caring, nurturing professional and person, and he brought many new ideas to the music program, which evolved for both of us over the years.

While we shared many wonderful musical performances over the years, I will always treasure Steve as the person who enabled me to become a better colleague for the long term. He will be missed.

Bob Kramsky

Retired English/theater teacher, Brattleboro Union High School

I worked with Steve Rice for 35 years and - besides his professionalism and his many talents - what always impressed me the most was that everything he did and all of the work he took on was always for the kids and their education.

I remember when we produced Rent at the high school, Steve was instrumental in bringing in members of the AIDS Project of Southern Vermont to meet with the kids to give them firsthand experiences talking with people who had AIDS and had lost loved ones to AIDS. It made a lasting impression on the kids and brought tremendous depth and sensitivity to their performances.

Sure, he wanted to put on great shows, but beyond that, he wanted the kids to learn important life lessons from the experience. And they did!

Tom Nasitaka

Band director/music teacher, Brattleboro Area Middle School

It's impossible to summarize Steve Rice in two to three sentences!

He leaves a legacy of excellence that's woven deeply into the fabric of our arts-rich community and provides a beacon of what's possible when student musicians are held to high standards while being shown compassion and understanding.

As a role model and friend to me over the last 15 years, I know that I'm a much stronger teacher and colleague because of him.

Rebekah Kersten

English/theater teacher and musical director, Brattleboro Union High School

Steve Rice has a unique ability to identify student leaders and foster opportunities for their growth, a quality that will have a lasting impact on BUHS music long after he retires.

I've been personally impacted by this twice: first, as a student musician who served as the drum major of the BUHS Band during my senior year, and second, as a theater educator chosen to serve as director of the BUHS musical, stepping into a position known for high standards of excellence.

Steve's belief and faith in me as a leader has meant the world to me. I have been honored to call him both a colleague and one of the teachers who has shaped my outlook toward and work ethic in the arts. His professionalism, drive to achieve excellence, and passion have created incredibly tight bonds within the music community at BUHS, and, indeed, throughout the community as whole.

Michelle Page

Math teacher, assistant theater director, and musical producer, Brattleboro Union High School; president, Vermont Theatre Company

Steve Rice worked on and later ran the BUHS musical for almost three decades, a true testament of his patience and bravery.

He brought a calm presence to the otherwise chaotic world of theater and the orchestra was always phenomenal under his direction.

Steve will be greatly missed in the BUHS auditorium next year.

Julie Ackerman-Hovis

Choral director/music teacher, Brattleboro Union High School

It has been a real pleasure to work at the high school with Steve Rice these past two years and learn from him. It's been especially exciting having my own children in the band and jazz band during this time and watching them grow as musicians under his leadership.

Steve is a truly inspiring educator whom I feel lucky to have worked with, even for this short time.

Patty Meyer

Music teacher, Green Street School; former choral director/music teacher, Brattleboro Union High School

Steve Rice was inspiring to work with. The high standards he held himself to were contagious.

Eugene Uman

Director, Vermont Jazz Center

Steve Rice is an excellent educator. He is a wonderful musician who understands how to communicate and be real with his students.

There's no pandering - Mr. Rice's students realize that he's an authentic person who believe in his mission to give them the tools to create and be part of a larger community.

Mr. Rice commands respect because he walks the walk and talks the talk. Students can sense that right away. Furthermore, he has been able to establish a fun-yet-controlled environment where young people feel safe and comfortable.

Because of his talent and supportive, generous attitude, Steve Rice's students are eager to work diligently and achieve high levels of accomplishment and work together in a group setting.

It's a beautiful thing to be present at the concerts he produces and feel the joy of the students as they join together to create beautiful music that they understand is greater than the sum of its parts.

I have always been grateful to Steve for his willingness to collaborate with The Vermont Jazz Center; from my first days on the job (25 years ago) I knew he was an ally. He encourages his students to attend concerts, and has always been actively involved with the clinics and student presentations that occur during the VJC's Emerging Artist Festival. Now some of his students work for the Jazz Center in various capacities.

He has also been welcoming in cultivating relationships with BUHS students and the Jazz Center Summer Workshop. One of the highlights of each summer program is to hear and feel the enthusiasm that the more ambitious BUHS students bring to the workshop, thus enhancing our attempts to engage more youth in the amazing richness of jazz music and to then bring them into our audience on a more permanent basis.

Wyatt Cudworth

Percussion, band and jazz band; All State musician; BUHS class of 2024

Steve Rice taught me that you have to earn your keep; you have to work for everything. Nothing is given to you.

This made me realize what I want in life and what I need to do to work towards it.

Benson May

Trumpet, band and jazz band; All State musician; New England Musician; All Eastern Musician; BUHS class of 2013

Steve Rice inspired me to test my trumpet playing and to always strive for better performance.

He was instrumental (no pun intended) in the formation of my ear for tuning, attention to dynamics, and love of big brassy marches.

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