Joann Couton, Wahoo Neuman High School, 2014 Lentz Award Winner

The recipient’s band program has proven itself to be an outstanding one in all areas: concert band, marching band, jazz band, solos and small ensembles and honor band participation.  A listing of awards and honors include but are not limited to the concert band earning superior ratings at District Music Contest in 7 of the last 10 years, including straight ones several times and being the only band in their class to receive a superior, sometimes competing in a higher class.  The marching band has competed at the various marching contests over the years, including NSBA.

This year’s recipient received letters of recommendation from 48 people.

A fellow educator states ”the recipient exemplifies the band director, teacher and community leader that each of us inspires to be.  This person exceeds the standards that have been set for this honor, having the opportunity to be able to watch up close for most of my career, I have come to respect the dedication, success and selfless pursuit to insure the success of all students in the program”.

A fellow teacher wrote “When the recipient came to our school, our instrumental program was at a low point.  The recipient turned the program around, starting a fund to help families in financial difficulties to obtain instruments.  The recipient is supportive of other teachers and generous with their time.  I enjoy working with this person on committees because of the recipient’s excellent analytical mind and being capable of seeing factors that most of us tend to overlook.

A Colleague wrote “I have been a fellow conference member of the recipient for 25 years and I can tell you that this person is undoubtedly our finest director in the conference.  Very dedicated and is constantly a source for other directors to call upon.

One of the recipient’s administrators states “I dread the day we will have to say goodbye to our director.  I cannot think of a person more deserving of this award”.

Another administrator states “While always being a team player, the award winner is also protective of our school’s music program.  Our schools bands consistently perform at an excellent or superior level”

Another fellow teacher said “the Nominee’s attention to detail is second to none, even the band room, on a normal school day, resembles a well-rehearsed marching formation.”

A current student said “our director is truly an inspiration, I hope someday the winner realizes how much they have affected my life and the lives of all the students in band”. 

Another current student said, Above all, the award winner’s connection with all of the students is beyond description.  The recipient tells us how much we are appreciated for our hard work, our dedication, and our striving to be the best that we can be.  But the truth is that students will never do those things, unless they have a teacher for whom they are willing to do them.
Another student writes “To say that our director just a band director would never do justice.  Our director is a joker, listener, a teacher, a parent, a musician, and most importantly, a person of faith who has dedicated their entire life for the advancement of music by students and peers.

The recipient has had numerous students that have earned positions in various honor bands across the state, including;  NMEA All State, Class B and C All State, Conference, Doane, Wayne State, UNK, Waverly, Blair, and 8th Grade All State. 
A former NSBA President stated “the recipient is able to grasp and understand the issues that would come before the board and was able to offer insightful observations and suggestions to help resolve issues, always in a tactful, calm way”.

TO ASSIST IN PRESENTING THE AWARD, I WOULD LIKE TO ASK STEVE STEAGER, NSBA PAST PRESIDENT, TO COME TO THE STAGE TO PRESENT THE DONALD A LENTZ AWARD.

A few more items of interest:

This recipient’s High School band has earned the –Academic achievement award  for having a cumulative GPA of over 3.5, they have earned this award for 11 years straight

The recipient has had 5 students receive outstanding soloist certificates at District Music Contest in the last 4 years, including last year when they competed in class B, but were actually a class C school. 

A current student stated, When my brother was a senior, she presented him with the John Philip Sousa award, while she was describing the award, and the reason why he was getting it, she started tearing up.  I will never forget her excuse for crying, “My eyeballs are sweating”
Another student said, “I tease her, that the one thing that will stay with me forever is that she taught me how to hang up my band uniform pants.

She started the National Anthem Singers, a small group that has performed for several state championship games and the college world series.   She plays a very important role in the music program at her church, setting a fine example for her students.

She has served NSBA as Public Relations chair and as Treasurer, now in her 4th term.  She lives her faith through her teaching.  Not many of us can or are allowed to do that in the public school arena.

Mentioned in several letters including band parents, Past Presidents, and officers of NSBA, In July of 2010, 2 days after the death of her husband, she was marching with her students at the County Fair Parade”.

Her daughter, a music education major, wrote this, “As I continue to admire this rock from which I’m hewn, I find great joy knowing that my teacher, my mentor, my mother, is fit for this prestigious award, and such that, if I am molded to resemble her in the slightest, I too can feel confident of my imminent impact on students for years to come as a music educator!”

At this moment it is my honor to present the Donald A Lentz, Outstanding Bandmaster award to The band director from Bishop Neumann High School, Joann Couton