Dr. Dorothy Sobieski, All-Divison Orchestra Director & Ranney Parent
I joined the Ranney School faculty in the fall of 2008. I clearly remember the day of my interview—the campus was bursting with a contagious energy, radiating with the smiles of students. I was astonished by the ambiance and aura of the campus as well as the students’ school spirit as they cheered on their fellow athletes during a pep rally. Their joy impressed me, and it was at that moment that I felt my first connection with the Ranney community. This bond has further developed over the years and drawn in my loved ones as they too have become part of Ranney School.
My unique perspective of the Ranney community is rooted in the specific character of the school’s orchestra program, which I have helped to establish and develop over the past 8 years. Each day, I have an exceptional opportunity to work with students from all three of our divisions, beginning with our youngest string players in the second grade, and watching them grow through the Lower and Middle Schools, all the way to their senior year in the Upper School. The strong, unmatched bonds that are built between Ranney students and faculty are a direct result of the school’s commitment to continuous development and education of the whole child. Faculty members teach compassion and tolerance, offer meaningful leadership experiences, promote excellence in academic achievement, and most important to me personally, recognize, cherish and work to develop each child’s creativity and musical aptitude. This community’s character allows Ranney School to be one of the most desirable places to work and to learn.
I feel lucky to experience first-hand my students’ small and large personal triumphs as they learn to master their instruments, decode music notation, and make connections between science, visual arts, language arts and music compositions. Since 2011, more and more of our Lower School musicians have been selected to the Central Jersey Music Educators Association (CJMEA) Elementary Honors Orchestra. In 2016, 13 Ranney students are representing our program at the CJMEA event. Our Middle School Orchestra has been recognized and awarded at the regional Music in the Parks Festival for several years now, winning their category and earning Best Overall Orchestra Awards in 2013 and 2015. Our young Upper School Orchestra earned Silver Medals at the last two Heritage Festivals (2014 & 2015), as well as the Top Award at Monmouth County’s Teen Arts Festival, and a Basie Nomination for their first attempt at the pit orchestra in the 2015 production of Fiorello! The enthusiasm for music performance grows on campus each day. Students in Choral ensembles, Jazz Band, Middle and Lower School Bands, together with our All-Division Orchestras, continue to collaborate on projects, community service tasks and learning enterprises. Our school’s musical-rich life enhances the whole community and deepens the bonds between us all.
Today, all three of my daughters are students at Ranney School (Danielle ’16, Allison ’18 and Adele ’23), I cannot imagine them anywhere else. The experience of being an AP/Honors student as well as a three-season Varsity athlete (Allison), mastering one’s organizational skills as a team manager, club secretary/treasurer (Danielle), or aiming for one’s very first role in a musical (Adele), all a while performing in the school orchestra, is precious. Nowhere else can I envision my three girls getting ready for school each morning with that same excitement, radiating smiles and the same energy I experienced on Ranney’s campus the day of my interview … Being a part of this community as a faculty member and a parent is indeed special. To join it in 2008 was undoubtedly the best decision I made.
In addition to directing Ranney School’s Lower, Middle and Upper School Orchestras, Dr. Sobieski also advises the Tri-M® Music Honor Society, Upper School Chamber Music Club and after-school orchestra/string activities. She is a faculty member of the Judicial Review Board as well. Outside of Ranney, Dr. Sobieski has served as a judge for the Central Jersey Music Educators Association (CJMEA) regional auditions, New Jersey MEA All-State Auditions, and for the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra. She has been invited to conduct the CJMEA Elementary Honors Orchestra for three years in a row, including 2016. She is the recipient of the Art Scholarship Award from the Polish Ministry of Culture as well the International Primus Inter Pares Award, President of City of Warsaw Scholarship Award, and Best Soloist Award for International Music Impressions of Bydgoszcz. She was recently inducted into Ranney’s Cum Laude Society chapter. View Dr. Sobieski playing the viola at the 2016 Cum Laude ceremony here.