Music teacher Susan McKenzie to retire after twenty-one years


Nia Sterling

Susan McKenzie playing her favorite instrument, the guitar.

Nia Sterling, Staff Writer

Susan McKenzie is retiring from teaching on Nov. 30.

McKenzie is a graduate of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania where she has a bachelor’s in physical education and health. McKenzie has a masters in music from Western Connecticut State University.

McKenzie has been teaching at Danbury High School for twenty-one years. She plays a multitude of different instruments: piano, violin, guitar, bass and vocals. By far, her favorite instrument is piano.

Mckenzie’s music journey began at the age of five: “I had one of those real tiny keyboards. I used to pound on the [piano]. [My parents] decided that I should learn how to play. I had an older sister who played and of course, you want to be like your older sister. She was actually pretty good.”

 She learned to play the guitar fifteen years ago when she received a scholarship for a guitar course at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. McKenzie worked at Danbury High School during her time of study at Duquesne University: “ I had cafeteria duty. I would sit outside the cafeteria, downstairs and play guitar in the hallway everyday, practicing every single day. It was entertaining. The kids loved it.” 

As she was determined to learn this new instrument, the guitar quickly became her strong suit .After learning the guitar, McKenzie started the guitar class at Danbury High School.In addition, McKenzie instituted the National Honor Society for musicians and has been extremely involved in theater production as a director, lead piano player, and conductor. She is photographed on the walls near the library as she had had a prominent role in the musicals. 

McKenzie leaves behind a legacy not only at Danbury High School, but in the world of music as well. She has published and written many pieces. 

McKenzie believes that it was time for her to retire. She has plans to travel the world and explore the oceans: “In December I will be scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. I just passed my scuba diving test. Retiring does not mean that life is over.”

 One former student, Nerissa Begglo, said “I  love Ms.McKenzie’s optimism Music wise, Ms. Mckenzie has taught me the ability to sight read which has improved my overall interest in playing an instrument. Her consistent reminders and repetitions of notes, chords, and mnemonic devices has continued to stick in my mind even a year later. I will miss her happy spirit and structured classes. As a student, an organized teacher is the best teacher. Her class was always something I looked forward to.”

McKenzie will miss teaching her students as she prepares for this new chapter. She is proud to have taught students who are now married and have successful lives. One of McKenzie’s students has won an Emmy and another one of her former students plays in Jason Laurent’s band. 

Music will continue to be a crucial feature in her life as she  “cannot imagine life without music.”