Beloved orchestra director Ed Zunic will leave the district at the end of the year to pursue a Ph.D. at Case Western Reserve University.


Ed Zunic is the head orchestra director in UA Schools. Zunic announced his retirement at the end of this year and plans to enter a Ph.D. program at Case Western Reserve University.

This has been a long journey for Zunic, beginning over 20 years ago. 

“I had spoken with [Case Western Reserve] back in 2001. They had made some changes but I had literally just been hired by Upper Arlington, and there was no way that I was going to pick up and leave,” Zunic said.

Last year, one of Case Western Reserve’s professors heard the orchestra groups at UAHS play, and Zunic restored their relationship.

“Afterward, we had a conversation and a cup of coffee and we started emailing each other over the summer, which is when I really started working on the application,” Zunic said.

He compared it to the process for seniors applying to college, saying that “it wasn’t really different for [him] than it was for any of the other seniors.”

Prior to this, however, Zunic had been a teacher for many years. 

“I started in Odessa, Texas, at Permian High School, and then I left Odessa and went to grad school, got my master’s at Bowling Green in education, and then went to Lima. I spent one year in Lima and then five years out in Newark,” Zunic said.

Zunic was asked to join Upper Arlington after helping produce one of the largest groups that Newark had ever had in their high school orchestra. He was hired as a low-string specialist, as well as an orchestra teacher and director.

“When I started here, I had two elementary schools- Windermere and Greensview were mine. And I taught two classes a day at Hastings. And then I taught one orchestra here at the high school and was an assistant here at the high school,” Zunic said.

Over time, the job has culminated into him overseeing over 200 orchestra students at the high school, in six different groups. The six groups are Concert, Symphony, Vivace, Bel Canto, Intermezzo and Arioso. Zunic works alongside Chris Lape, Jordan King and Gretchen Zunic, his wife, to manage these groups.

Zunic has played a formative role in the musical careers of students like senior Alana Sayat.

“He’s been a really big part in helping me through my experiences as a violinist, and I’ve gotten to play in so many different capacities because of him, and learn so much,” she said. “So it’s been a really great opportunity to get to work with him, and I feel very grateful for the chance.”

Senior Taylor Speas echoed this sentiment.

Zunic, he said, has “giv[en] us a wider idea of what we can do with music in our lives.”

After leaving UA, Zunic will still be teaching.

“Part of my [new] job will be to work with undergraduates and graduate students. I’ll be teaching classes,” he said.

Zunic said he will deeply miss UA.

“The other stuff that allows me to do my job, the meetings or the emails, I won’t miss any,” he said. “But I don’t know how to put it: the job is the best part of the job, and it’s amazing.”