Sara Francis, who leads the orchestra at Edythe J. Hayes Middle School (Fayette County), has been named the 2016 Outstanding Director by the Kentucky chapter of the American String Teachers Association. The honor goes to a K-12 ensemble director who has demonstrated excellence in teaching and leadership.

Francis has taught orchestra in Fayette County Public Schools for 14 years, including 10 at Hayes. Her Hayes groups have performed twice at the Kentucky Music Educators Association’s conference and at the National Orchestra Festival in 2014. She also leads the Hayes Fiddle Club and teaches strings at Athens-Chilesburg Elementary.

“We are so fortunate in Kentucky to have a wonderful network of orchestra and strings teachers that not only are tremendous music educators, but also supportive, caring, genuinely awesome people. It’s an honor to be recognized by them,” Francis said.

Francis graduated from Transylvania University with a bachelor’s degree in applied music/music education and earned a master’s degree in music theory from Northwestern University.

“I love teaching music because it engages students intellectually, creatively, emotionally and spiritually,” she said. “It gives them a chance to see the correlation between hard work and success and how their efforts as an individual can affect a group collaboration. While music is highly valuable for its own sake, music is also a powerful tool that can help students to build a sense of self and a sense of community.”