Roger Groth, Westside High School. 2010 Lentz Award Winner

The Nebraska State Bandmasters Association presented their highest honor, the Donald A. Lentz Outstanding Bandmaster Award, at their annual awards banquet on March 2nd. The award was presented to Mr. Roger Groth from Westside High School in Omaha.This award is named after Donald A. Lentz of Lincoln, who was Director of Bands at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1937-1974 and remained active as a clinician and adjudicator throughout the state until his death.

Roger has taught instrumental music in District 66 for 35 years, starting in the elementary and middle school, and serving as Director of Bands at Westside High School since 1981. Roger, a 1969 graduate of Westside High School, began his eventual career as a band director serving as the student director of the high school jazz band while under the direction of Mr. Darwyn “Tony” Snyder, the 1991 recipient of the Donald A. Lentz Outstanding Bandmaster Award. Forty-one years later, he is still working with the young musicians at Westside High School, providing outstanding instruction as well as a dedication and commitment to each individual student’s musical and personal development.

His nominator states, “Roger knows all too well the many benefits beyond musical knowledge his students obtain from their participation in music. The basic areas necessary for success in music – self-discipline, perseverance, problem solving, diligence, teamwork - not only produce great musicians, which in turn produce great bands, but they also serve to provide young people with a set of life skills that will serve them well regardless of which career path they choose to pursue. He takes a personal interest in each and every student, encouraging them"
"to work towards their goals and to pursue their dreams and interests. The number of former students that maintain communication with Roger speaks to his personal impact on them as a mentor and as a friend.”

Mrs. Pat Hutchings, Principal of Westside High School stated, “Roger Groth teaches his students the three C’s - commitment, confidence, and character. Equally important, they will tell you that he cares deeply about each and every one of them. He models respect, caring, and helpfulness. He has also had a remarkable number of graduates who have chosen music as their college major or vocation, and they credit Roger as their source of inspiration and dedication to music. Roger’s influence as a music educator has extended far beyond the walls of Westside.”

Music Director for the Omaha Symphony, Thomas Wilkins states, “While I am sure that his track record in the area of producing fine ensembles on a continual basis is obvious, I am also certain that my wife and I could not have chosen a better human being to surround our children, and help us launch them as whole, emotionally healthy, confident young women. He is quite simply the best.”

Finally, Ken Molzer states, “Roger’s groups have been outstanding during his tenure at Westside. The jazz bands have been considered some of the best in the nation and have performed nationally receiving top honors. The Warrior Marching Band has competed in numerous contests and have been rated Superior many times. The Concert Band program performs a variety of music and is one of the best in the state. I believe Roger Groth has shown, with his years of service to music education that he exemplifies what a master teacher and music education leader should be.”

Roger’s individual honors include: 1982 Arbor Heights Junior High Outstanding Teacher of the Year; 1987 Outstanding Jazz Educator - National Band Association; 1988 Outstanding Jazz Educator - International Association of Jazz Educators; 1990 nominated for the Omaha World Herald Outstanding Nebraska Teacher; 1991 Finalist for Outstanding District 66 Teacher of the year; Listed in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers” in 1993, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008 & 2010; recognized in 1994 at a Presidential reception at the White House as a Distinguished Teacher of a Presidential Scholar; named the Omaha Arts Society & the Omaha Chamber of Commerce Music Teacher of the year in 1997; named a Milken Education Award recipient for the State of Nebraska, 1997; 1999-2003 four time Walt Disney American Teacher Award nominee; one of five finalist for Nebraska Teacher of the Year for 2003; one of four finalists for Nebraska Teacher of the Year for 2004; Nebraska Excellence in Teaching Award for 2003 & 2004; district 66 and Terri Schrager “Excellence in Teaching Award” for 2004, 2005 National Band Association Outstanding Jazz Educator of the year, and recognized in the “Presidential "Who’s Who” in the professional arena from 2008-2011.