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Congratulations WPS Band Director Jason Smith: recipient of the 2021 Nebaska Music Education Association's "Outstanding Music Educator" Award!

WPS Band Director named 2021 NMEA 'Outstanding Music Educator'!

Mr. Smith honored for his passion & non-stop devotion to music instruction

"Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul." --Plato

No one understands or appreciates that more than music teachers, and the Wahoo Public Schools are blessed to have some of the best!

Each year the Nebraska Music Educators Association (NMEA) presents several awards at their annual banquet. One of these awards recognizes one Nebraska teacher as the "Outstanding Music Educator" of the year. Nominations for this award, which was first presented back in 1989, are based upon outstanding service and unselfish devotion to interscholastic music by high school or collegiate music educators.

For 2021 the winner is our very own WPS Instrumental Music Director Jason Smith!

Smith will receive his award at an upcoming banquet, as part of the NMEA annual Conference/Clinic in Lincoln in November.

"During his time in Wahoo, Jason has focused on developing a band program that implements foundational skills in the later elementary grades, builds upon these skills in the middle school program, and showcases these skills in the high school," WPS Director of Learning Dr. Josh Snyder said. "Mr. Smith develops these skills through a commitment to growth and development of each band member. This growth and development is nurtured through his interactions with families and helping them acquire instruments, through individualized instrumental lessons, and through helping students expand their instrumental repertoire in the later years."

Snyder added that the positive connections Smith makes with both students and families last far beyond their time at Wahoo Public Schools. The energy, encouragement and enthusiasm he brings to the band room and Performance-Learning Center for each performance is positive and focused. All members of the band share in the success of the performance and each member knows they are an important part of that overall success.

Former WPS Creative Services Director John Harris, who nominated Smith for this award, agrees.

"Mr. Smith empowers his students to lead, to take musical risks and to grow in the understanding that successful participation in music isn’t just for those who can play all of the notes on the score correctly," Harris commented. "I often have students tell me that he is a teacher whom they can trust to help them, listen to a personal concern or just someone who can laugh with them. His bands are like a second family to many of our students."

Smith's commitment to music advocacy and his invaluable contribution to the Wahoo Music Program make him an ideal candidate for this award, and while receiving accolades from the NMEA, the administration, and peer educators is certainly worthy of a press release, it's the praise of his students that stands out above all else . . . and there is no shortage of that.

“Mr. Smith is never short on advice, whether it be about higher education, health or just life. We have a saying in the band program - ’That’s not just a band thing, that’s a life thing.’ - and I never fail to remember that," said WHS senior Maya Foxworthy.

"One of Mr. Smith’s best strengths is his ability to communicate complex music theory in an easy-to-understand and fun way for students," WHS Alum Katie Pace commented. "The one that comes to mind is the time he taught us about Lydian scales by using the Simpson’s theme song. The concepts I learned in high school band have helped me succeed as a member of the Cornhusker Marching Band."

Smith is now in his tenth year of teaching at WPS, and taught for two years prior at Bancroft-Rosalie. A native of Ashland, he completed his bachelors degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 2009, and received his masters degree from Wayne State College this past May. His 2021-2022 school year is off to a great start, as his Warrior Marching Band has brought home a "Superior" rating from every competition so far this semester!

Smith's NMEA award comes on the heels of another prestigious award from April, when the NAMM Foundation awarded the entire WPS Music program with the designation of a 2021 "Best Community for Music Education." An article about that honor is posted at https://www.wahooschools.org/vnews/display.v/ART/60706239b7bee.

Reflecting on the award, Smith shared: "I am beyond grateful for the numerous mentors and experiences I have had in music education. I am thankful to have worked in districts and communities that are incredibly supportive. Over the years I have had outstanding students that were willing to take risks and do incredible things."

Congratulations Mr. Smith on this well-deserved honor!


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WPS Band Director named 2021 NMEA 'Outstanding Music Educator'!

Chris Cejka
WPSFood Director WPS

Oct 21, 2021

Way to Go Jason!!!!!!!!!!!
Barb Shanahan

Oct 21, 2021

Congratulations, Mr. Smith!! A well deserved honor!! We are lucky to have you as part of our WPS family!

Nov 01, 2021

That is a very amazing award Mr. Smith. I hope next year ad more years to come that you earn this award. I am very happy that you taught me in fifth grade all the way to now how to play the trombone and connect me with a lot of other amazing kids. Thank you so much and keep up the hard work that I know you do.
Ryan Mueller
Logan, UTTeacher

Nov 01, 2021

Awesome job Mr. Smith! A well deserved honor for an amazing educator!