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Alum fosters appreciation for music

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As a music educator, Ruth Ann Stephens Schoenhoeft (61) spent half a century composing quite a career.

A native of Grayson, Ky., Schoenhoeft graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Music. After two years teaching in Clermont County, Ohio, she found a permanent home with the Oak Hills School District in Hamilton County in 1963.

As an elementary school teacher at C.O. Harrison Elementary, Schoenhoeft made contributions that greatly impacted her school district. She began an elementary band program and was intent on providing performance opportunities for her students in grades 4-6. Through purchasing and later writing ambitious shows to teach students about famous composers and current events, she staged tributes to Irving Berlin, Walt Disney, George Gershwin, Rodgers & Hammerstein and others to help her students develop music appreciation for different eras.

During her time as a teacher, Schoenhoeft received numerous honors for her work. After conceiving annual Veterans’ Day programs at C.O. Harrison Elementary in honor of her late husband and Marine Corps veteran, Gene Schoenhoeft, the local Order of Purple Heart veterans gave her a special honor for her dedication to honoring veterans.

She and her students were invited to perform a program she developed to educate children on the steamboat era at the Tall Stacks Music, Arts and Heritage Festival in Cincinnati in 1992. Her school was later invited to repeat the performance three more times in later years and the script was revised to accommodate special talents as well as the Ohio Bicentennial in 2003.

As a member of the Beta Nu chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, an honor society of key women educators, Schoenhoeft was one of only 53 educators across the country to receive a National Endowment for the Humanities grant.

A special thanks to Mrs. Barbara A. Reif for sharing the story of Ruth Schoenhoeft, who made teaching her life and the lives of her students better for her efforts.

“Ruth did more than just teach music for 50 years,” Reif said. “She was always actively involved in the life of the school.”

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