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Wade Howles said he didn't become a music teacher to win awards or receive special recognition.

But recently, the Lakeview Band director was honored for his dedication to music education during a conference in Lincoln for the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association. He was one of seven band directors in Nebraska this year to be presented with The Jack Snider Young Band Director Award, established in 1986 by the NSBA Executive Board and Past Presidents Council to commemorate the 25th anniversary of NSBA. The award was named for Jack R. Snider, who retired after a long and distinguished career that included 35 years at UNL

“I figure if you do good things, this kind of stuff will eventually come along. I don’t go looking for recognition for the things that I do. So yeah, it was a little bit of a surprise,” Howles said about the award. “Hard work and a positive attitude go a long way. I think you can do a lot with those two things. You can move mountains.”

Howles took over for Jen Himanga as Lake Community Schools band director in 2015. At the time, the marching band program only had about 20 students but has since more than doubled. In addition, Howles has also started new traditions in the district, such as organizing Columbus's first ever Tuba Christmas last December.

In order to qualify, a person in their third through seventh year of teaching music must be nominated by another person with a submission of three letters of recommendation from an administrator, a student/parent and a fellow music teacher. Howles said Lakeview Music Instructor Jill Goedeken nominated him, with letters written by Columbus High School Band Director Jeff Peabody, Lakeview Superintendent Aaron Plas and one of Howles' senior students.

“I feel incredibly lucky to be where I am and have such great support from my students, from their parents, from the community, from all of the administrators,” Howles said. “It means a lot.”

Peabody said he is impressed with how Howles has grown the Lakeview music program. He said, in his experience, young band directors tend to rush into a program with unrealistic exceptions. However, he noted, Howles has had the patience to build up the program over a long period of time into what it is today.

"My biggest thing about him is that he came into a program that had a little bit of turn over," Peabody said. "He came in with a great attitude, an idea of what he wanted to and do a plan on how to do that."

Lakeview High school Principal Steve Borer said he was happy Howles winning the award, adding he has done a great job at increasing the quality and quantity of students participating in the music program.

“We’re just really excited for Wade. Dr. Howles does a lot of great stuff for our band,” Borer said. “He’s done a superb job of building the band program...There were kids before that didn't think band was cool, and now band is cool.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News-Review.

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