Cathy Fishburn

TODA Orchestra Director of the Year - 2020/2021

Cathy Fishburn received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Sam Houston State University in 1976 and completed her Masters Degree in Music Education in 1979 at the University of Houston.  She taught her first three years in Houston ISD and the remainder of her classroom teaching in Klein ISD for a total of 34 years in the public schools. She is in her 11th year as a consultant/clinician/judge and University Supervisor, thus 44 years teaching Orchestra all combined.

In 1979 when she moved to Klein, Mrs. Fishburn directed the Wunderlich Int. School Orchestra for 7 years.  During that time, the Wunderlich Orchestra won the Astroworld Festival’s “Best in Class” Award three times as well as receiving numerous UIL Sweepstakes Awards.

 In 1984 Cathy became the Director of the Klein Forest High School Orchestra, which she built from 15 students to a large and successful program.  During her tenure there, the Orchestra won several awards at the Buccaneer Days Festival and UIL, as well as “Best in Class” at the Six Flags Over Texas Festival.  During the 1989-90 school year, her Klein Forest Symphony Full Orchestra was chosen as the TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) Honor High School Orchestra of Texas and performed at the TMEA Convention in San Antonio.

 Her heart remaining with young players, Mrs. Fishburn requested assignment as Orchestra Director at Doerre Intermediate where she taught for 20 years.  Under her baton, the Doerre Orchestras earned consistent Sweepstakes Awards at UIL, with 5 “Best in Class” Awards and 9 “Most Outstanding Orchestra” Awards at the Galveston Isle Orchestra Festival. In the 2003-2004 school year, the Doerre Chamber Orchestra was chosen as the TMEA Honor Junior High Orchestra of Texas and performed at the TMEA convention in San Antonio.

In 2000, the Sam Houston State University Music Department awarded Cathy with an engraved plaque for her years of loyalty to the department, dedication and service to the SHSU camps, and overall distinguished work as a teacher, educator and conductor. For eight years, she served as the SHSU Orchestra JH Camp Manager, where several hundred students each summer were under Cathy’s guidance and leadership. In 2010, she was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award for her outstanding contributions to the SHSU Music Department as well as a career of distinguished work as a teacher and music educator in Texas.

Mrs. Fishburn has a true passion for “paying it forward” in the Orchestra world. In November 2001, Cathy co-authored an article in the “Southwestern Musician”magazine (the TMEA state monthly publication) entitled “The Positive Impact of Being a Mentor.”  She has had a total of 27 student teachers from Sam Houston State University, University of Houston and Baylor University throughout her teaching career and thoroughly enjoyed working with and mentoring these young, new teachers into the musical field. In fact, she is currently employed as a University Supervisor by SHSU, which allows her to continue to work with the upcoming young directors who are just stepping into their new careers as music educators.

Cathy received Doerre Intermediate’s 2009-2010 Teacher of the Year award. She believes that much of the success of Doerre’s program was due to the “cluster concept.”   This included not just working at the intermediate school campus, but also teaching her 5th grade students at the Doerre feeder schools in addition to assisting the Klein HS directors and being involved with Klein students in general.

 In 2010, Cathy saw an opportunity to again reach out to KISD students. She initiated the program and was head sponsor for 7 years of the Klein Chapter of TFME (Texas Future Music Educators), a club sponsored by TMEA, that promotes and encourages high school students to pursue music education as a career. She and the former student president of the high school club co-authored an article entitled “Step Up to the TFME Podium” that was published in the August 2011 “Southwestern Musician” (TMEA) magazine.

After 34 years in the classroom, Mrs. Fishburn retired from the classroom in 2010. But she merely considers this a “change of career” as she remains active in the Texas public schools. Cathy currently works as a UIL judge, conducts Region Orchestras, presents inservices, workshops and consultation clinics throughout the state, and is a University Supervisor to SHSU student teachers. She is a member of the Texas Music Educator’s Association (TMEA), Texas Orchestra Director’s Association (TODA), and Texas Music Adjudicators Association (TMAA).

In February of 2019, Cathy was chosen as The 2020 Orchestra Director of the Year by TODA (Texas Orchestra Directors Association). This is the highest honor from your Orchestra peers in Texas that one can receive! She will be recognized at the TODA state convention in the summer of 2020. Update: Due to Covid-19, the Convention was virtual, postponing the presentation until the summer of 2021.

In her “spare” time, Cathy enjoys reading and collecting Danielle Steel novels, making craft projects, being with her husband Dean, co-owner of Fishburn Violin Shop, and playing with their dogs, Aria and Dolce and Puccini, aka “Pucci”.