Wednesday, March 1, 2023
During Public Schools Week, we celebrate the lifelong career of an MPS alumnus who has made MPS his home. Congratulations to Ijoister Harris, violinist, performer, and MPS educator and music teacher leader. This year, Harris is taking on the role of String Orchestra Central Music Director and Prelude Orchestra Coach for the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO). He is the first African American and the first MPS educator to serve as a director for MYSO.
Harris is an alumnus of Oliver Wendell Holmes School, Lincoln Junior and Senior High Schools, and the original MPS high school of the arts—Bay View High School. He has served in MPS for 28 years as a general music teacher, band teacher, and orchestra teacher at a number of schools. Harris is currently in his fourth year as the district music teacher leader.
For MYSO, Harris serves as String Orchestra Central Music Director, being responsible for selecting the repertoire for the season, holding auditions, judging a concert competition, rehearsing the orchestra, and conducting a community concert and fall, winter, and spring concerts. In his role as Prelude Orchestra Coach, Harris coaches during orchestra rehearsals and performs with the orchestra during the fall, winter, and spring concerts. His career with MYSO began when he was a student under the organization’s former name, Music For Youth.
Harris has been honored with several recognitions including MPS Teacher of the Year in 2013, and has had an award established in his honor at Golda Meir School known as the Harris Music Legacy Award. In 2011, he was named the Civic Music Association's Instrumental Music Teacher of the Year.
Throughout his career, Harris says that his biggest thrill has been his genuine enjoyment of teaching and engaging students. He encourages anyone with a love of music to become involved at any age. “It is never too late to be what you might have been,” he shared.
Congratulations, Ijoister Harris! You make us #MPSProud!