An auditorium at Brentwood High School has been renamed to honor Joel Ratner, the school district's coordinator of music and fine arts, who died Feb. 23.
The Sonderling Auditorium at the high school on Sixth Avenue is now the Dr. Joel Ratner Auditorium, according to school board president Helen Moss. Ratner, of East Meadow, died in his sleep, officials said. He was 56.
A tribute concert, with 10 music groups including nine student jazz groups and one group of which Ratner was a part, was held in the auditorium Wednesday night in celebration of Ratner's achievements throughout his years in the district.PhotosRecent notable deaths See alsoSee more LI, U.S. obits
Moss said Ratner was "pleasant" and "mannerly" and "made great advancement with our music programs."
"He's such an inspiration for all the staff and students," Moss said. "He was very dedicated and worked tirelessly to promote music. Everyone just loved him."
Ratner, who was a trumpeter, became the district coordinator of music and fine arts in 1996, according to district officials. He led students in the Green Machine marching band state championships in 2006, 2007 and 2010; served as president of the New York State Council of Administrators of Music Education from 2008 to 2009; and was 2000-01 president of the Suffolk County Music Educators Association.
The high school choir was selected under his watch to sing at Carnegie Hall in 2003, and he received a special merit award from the national Grammy Foundation in 2002 for the high school's music program.
Starting in 2011, Ratner was a member of the New York State Regents Task Force for Teacher and Principal Effectiveness. At regional conferences and workshops, Ratner spoke of the importance of music and the arts, which were among programs hit hard by budget cuts in recent years.
"We're honoring his love of music, his love for the Brentwood school district and his dedication and inspiration to all the kids . . . his shoes are very hard to fill," Moss said.