NFHS Outstanding Music Educator Award

The Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) is a state member of the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) and presents this award on their behalf. Nominations are based upon outstanding service and unselfish devotion to interscholastic music by high school or collegiate music educators. The award was first presented in 1989 and the winner is announced each year at NMEA's annual Conference/Clinic.

The 2021 NFHS Outstanding Music Educator of the Year


Dr. Lance Nielsen of Lincoln Public Schools has been named Nebraska’s National Federation of State High School Association’s (NFHS) 2021-22 Outstanding Music Educator of the Year. 

Dr. Nielsen was nominated for the NFHS award by the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) in collaboration with the Nebraska Music Educators Association (NMEA). Nominations are based upon outstanding service and unselfish devotion to interscholastic music by high school or college music educators. The NFHS Outstanding Music Educator Award was first given in 1989.

Nielsen obtained his Educational Administration Certificate and Doctor of Philosophy in Music from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Nielsen’s career began in Kimball Public Schools in 1991 teaching 5-12 instrumental music. His career path includes stops at the Norris School District, Lincoln East High School and Doane College. In 2014 he became the Music Supervisor for Lincoln Public Schools where he oversees the
district preK-12 music programs.

Dr. Nielsen has greatly contributed to music education in Nebraska, nationally and abroad. In addition to anchoring award-winning music programs within his district, Nielsen continues to impact music education as a clinician, speaker, and author. Nielsen is praised for his innovative and servant leadership that drew high remarks during the past year in working through the pandemic. Nielsen was honored with the award at the Nebraska Music Educators Association annual awards banquet held on November 18th.


2002 - Bryan Johnson, Oakland-Craig High School
2003 - Dean Dahlke, Bertrand High School
2004 - Gene Torrens, Elkhorn High School
2005 - Dr. Michelle Bluford, Elkhorn High School
2006 - Fred Ritter, Columbus High School
2007 - Sharon Hoffman, Bayard Public Schools
2008 - Byron Braasch, Lewis & Clark Middle School
2009 - Stan Johnson, Shickley Public Schools
2010 - Dave Klein, Kearney Public Schools
2011 - Cheri Helmer-Riensche, Papillion-La Vista South High School
2012 - William Reichert, Broken Bow High School
2013 - Cheri Helmer-Riensche, Regional Winner, Papillion-La Vista South
2013 - Rita Stinner, Western Nebraska Community College
2014 - Rex Barker, Millard South High School
2015 - Patricia Ritchie, Millard West High School
2016 - Denise Cotton, Lincoln Southwest High School
2017 - Tom Jaworski, Regional Winner, Adams Central High School
2018 - Debbie Martinez, Millard North High School
2019 - Brad Ronne, Scottsbluff High School
2020 - Del Whitman, Lincoln East High School
2021 - Dr. Lance Nielsen, Lincoln Public Schools