The Strings program in Alamo Heights ISD began in 1973 by Margery Keller. Ms. Keller hired Mary Ruth Leonard and her sister Elizabeth Steinberg to be the first teachers in the program, which started with only 18 student musicians. In 1975 The nonprofit The Friends of Strings of Alamo Heights 501(c)3 formed in order to better support the blossoming Strings programs needs.
Ms. Leonard who was the first music teacher was an accomplished musician, cellist, teacher and mentor holding a Master's degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. She was passionate about music, both as a musician and as a teacher. Her lifelong passion for music was recognized by the Friends of Strings in naming the Elizabeth Steinberg-Mary Ruth Leonard Scholarship after her and her sister. It is awarded to a graduating senior at Alamo Heights High School in the Strings Program each year. The 2013 District Festival was dedicated to the memory of Mary Ruth Leonard, who passed away on March 9, 2013.
Since the Strings programs humble beginnings in 1973, it has expanded to an average of 800 students enrolled each academic year across four campuses from grades 4-12. The Friends of Strings continues to support ongoing needs to offset costs that arise throughout the year in order to provide AHISD students with the best possible learning experience and opportunities to participate at both Region and UIL competitions beyond district concerts.