A plaque commemorating the outstanding career of a retired music teacher is now hanging in the Corry Area Middle-High School band room.
Ronald Rairie, 87, who was inducted into the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Hall of Fame in April, was the center of a special reception and presentation ceremony coordinated by the Corry Area School District that took place Monday night.
"We are so proud of Mr. Rairie and all he has done for our school district," said Doris Gernovich, president of the Corry Area School Board. "It was an honor to recognize him and all of his accomplishments."
Former colleagues, students, family members and friends attended the reception, which was held prior to a regularly scheduled school board meeting. Punch and cake were provided, along with the opportunity to congratulate Rairie.
Immediately after the board meeting began, a special plaque presentation was held. The plaque — which featured a front page article about Rairie's induction into the hall of fame and an outline of his career and personal accomplishments — was donated by The Corry Journal.
Bob Williams, publisher of The Corry Journal, presented the plaque to middle-high school band teacher Heather Yeager and high school Principal Kelly Cragg. The plaque now hangs inside the middle-high school band room.
"Thank you so much, this is just truly special," Rairie said during the presentation. "Thank you to everyone who took the time to come and wish me well. And thank you to the board and the district for hosting this. This is where it all began."
Rairie, who is originally from DuBois, worked for CASD from 1954 through 1993.
He was given his first instrument, a cornet, in fourth grade by his father. Rairie was involved in music throughout the rest of his elementary, middle and high school career, and decided to pursue musical education in college.
He attended two years at a DuBois branch campus of Pennsylvania State University and then finished his degree at the main campus.
Rairie was hired as a junior high music teacher at CASD in 1954. In 1968, he took over the high school band program and taught at the senior high level until 1986, when he decided to move into the elementary level. Rairie eventually retired in 1993.
During his years with CASD, Rairie hosted dozens of PMEA festivals for senior district bands, district jazz bands and junior district bands. He was also the co-host of one of the first PMEA Junior District Bands in the state.
Rairie's concert bands received outstanding ratings and his marching band received many first place awards.
He took band students to Disney World and Mardi Gras to perform during the mid 1980s.
Rairie married his wife of 65 years, Leona, in 1954, and the couple have three children Sue, Joan and Ron Jr.
After Rairie's retirement, he returned to help and mentor many new CASD directors and played in a 40s Plus Big Band up until about five years ago.
Today, Rairie is still tuning pianos, a skill he learned in 1972 from a colleague.
Rairie was nominated for the PMEA Hall of Fame by by Brian Gresh, a former band teacher and director for the Corry Area School District, who is now an elementary music teacher for the Harbor Creek School District.
PMEA is a nonprofit organization of more than 4,500 members dedicated to promoting music development in Pennsylvania. The Hall of Fame honor was established in 2008 and seeks to recognize the most highly regarded professional leaders in music education.
A reception was held by PMEA in Pittsburgh on April 6 in honor of Rairie and two other individuals who make up the 2019 class inducted into the Hall of Fame.
"This is a very special evening for me as it was in Pittsburgh when they took me into this organization," Rairie said on Monday. "But, this is even more special. Thank you so much."