WPS Band Director receives honors as 2023 VFW "Teacher of the Year" . . . x3!
Mr. Jason Smith sweeps local, district, and state awards for grades 6-8
WPS Instrumental Music Director Jason Smith and his student musicians are no stranger to accolades, and recently a trifecta of honors has been added to the list!
Smith was recently presented the 2023 Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) "Teacher of the Year" Award for grades 6-8! This first award was given earlier this month at the local level, and it didn't stop there. Since then, Smith has also been deemed the 6-8 "Teacher of the Year" winner at the District and State levels as well!
"Without our nation's veterans, America wouldn't be the great nation it is today," states the VFW on their Teacher of the Year webpage. "Our youth deserve to learn about our rich history, traditions, and the role of our veterans in creating and shaping America."
Great teachers like Smith understand the academic value of weaving history and music together in their instruction, especially when studying patriotic themes, and the powerful role that plays in fostering an appreciation for those who have fought for our country's freedoms, and inspiring students to respond in kind by honoring those sacrifices and by simply being good citizens.
Patriotism is a common element in the WPS Music Program, as students work diligently to master the playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner," which is performed both vocally and instrumentally at multiple events throughout the year. Smith's band students also learn the fight songs of every branch of the U.S. military, which are performed at the annual WHS Veterans Day Assembly, and they perform patriotic selections yearly at Wahoo's Memorial Day Cermony at a local cemetery.
"This award is a direct reflection of Mr. Smith's efforts to build an amazing fine arts program at Wahoo Public Schools," commented Wahoo Middle School Principal Marc Kaminski. "He knows how to not only develop students' instrumental music skills at the middle level, but also develop interest. He builds interest, skills, and positive relationships with our students, which is why his program excels."
Smith received his local award on Jan. 26 (over a week late due to weather) and his district award on Jan. 22. Both ceremonies were held at the VFW Club in Wahoo. Smith will be presented with his State VFW Teacher of the Year Award on Friday, Feb. 3, as part of the Nebraska Veterans of Foreign Wars Mid-Winter Conference banquet at the Cornhusker Marriot Hotel in Lincoln.
Last year Smith was named the state's "Outstanding Music Educator" by the Nebraska Music Education Association, and WHS music students have brought home multiple honors during his tenure at WPS, including many "Superior" ratings at competitions and All-State honors. The WPS Music Program, as a whole, has also been recognized by the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association (NSBA) in recent years for a high level of participation and the impressive academic achievement of its students (average GPA in excess of 3.5 among all music students).
The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation has also taken note, listing Wahoo Public Schools among the "Best Communities for Music Education" in the country . . . for the past two years!
Music is a vital part of education, and WPS is proud of the program that has been built by our fine arts teachers. Congratulations Mr. Smith on this impressive honor!