Bill Reichert, Broken Bow High School, 2011 Lentz Award Winner

Since 1974 Bill has been teaching band in Broken Bow.. He once commented that he is now teaching grandchildren of some of his former students. What a commitment that is to education and our community! As we gathered letters of support for this award it became very obvious Bill has influenced many, many people. Letters came from all across the US and overseas and from as many diverse vocations. Letters came from former students, from parents or grandparents of students, and community members whose lives he has enriched.

Recently I was talking with a travel agent friend who had the job of taking the Broken Bow students on a band trip to another state. She commented what wonderful students we had in Broken Bow. They listened to instructions, were polite to other students and adults alike, were complimentary and respectful. We hear these type of comments a lot about the Broken Bow music students and that, I believe, is a reflection of their teacher. Bill Reichert is respectful of his students and in return expects the same from them along with their commitment to excel and be the best they can be. He teaches them how to be good citizens and leaders by the examples he exudes. And boy does he give them examples. He: sings in a local men's trio; organist at his church, accompanist for his church's choir and when they couldn't find a choir director he took over that role as well as continuing as accompanist. He was a charter member of the Custer County Friends of the Arts, sang in the Custer County Chorale and when there was no one to direct the choir he took over those duties revitalizing that choir of over 50 people who come from all over the county to "sing with Bill". He accompanies for weddings, funerals, provides music for special business events, - well, you get the idea. - Bill is "The Music Man" in our community.

Bill's philosophy of fair, consistent teaching using visionary teaching methods -while respect and commitment are given to and expected from his students - is what makes Bill such a special band teacher. Bill epitomizes the expression "Music as a Lifestyle", not just a job. He has dedicated his life to not only making music a vital part of the Broken Bow students' lives - but has enriched the entire community by his sharing of his talents,

Bill is one of those teachers who makes every child feel like he/she is the most special kid in his classroom. He knows how to make the child excel and do his/her best while still making it fun and 'cool' to "be in the band". His students respect him and that lasts even beyond their high school years. Students home on break from college have been known to bring their band instrument and stop in and play pep band with Mr. Reichert at the home sporting events. He is an excellent teacher, constantly encouraging his students to excel. He has paid, out of his own pocket, for underprivileged students to attend honor ensembles and summer band camps. He has driven hundreds of miles to another state to watch a former student play in a special college concert - just because he cares about the student and knows the student "needs the 'support'". His devotion to his students and teaching is very special and the community knows that. Just this past weekend the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce presented Bill with the Citizen of the Year Award.

In my position as Executive Director for Nebraska Music Educators Association and as having served on the National Executive Board for MENC: The National Association for Music Education I've come to know and observe many music educators. Bill Reichert exhibits those qualities shown of the finest music educators anywhere, and the thing that just makes it even better is that he has one of the nicest, humblest, honest personalities to go with it.

So, Bill, I've helped with nominations for your Broken Bow Teacher of the Year award, the Gary Fischer Outstanding Rural Educator Award, Broken Bow Citizen of the Year and this NSBA award - I'm all out of any more nominations but I'm hoping I can play the guilt card frequently whenever I need extra help.