Lindsborg, Kansas, November 8, 2021 – Lori Nelson, a music teacher at Soderstrom
Elementary School, is the 2022 Smoky Valley IMPACT Teacher.
Nelson received the award after being nominated by a district colleague. Glen
Suppes, superintendent of schools, stated that “Lori’s passion for children and
music create a wonderful foundation for Smoky Valley students. Our kids couldn’t
have a better mentor and advocate for the fine arts than Mrs. Nelson!”
The IMPACT Teacher award is intended to honor members of the Smoky Valley
educational staff who are outstanding teachers and have demonstrated leadership
and support of the district’s mission. Recipients also exemplify service outside of
the school system through volunteerism and advocacy in the Smoky Valley
community. The award is a joint project sponsored by USD 400 Smoky Valley and
the Smoky Valley Education Foundation.
Nelson earned her BS in Music from Fort Hays State University and her MS in
Education at Baker University. She has twenty-eight years of teaching experience
and began working in the Smoky Valley school system in the fall of 1998. Her prior
teaching duties were in USD 429 Troy as a music teacher at Troy Grade School and
Troy Middle School. At Soderstrom Elementary School, Nelson leads the general
music instruction and programming for PreK through 4th grade students.
As an elementary music teacher, Nelson recognizes the importance of providing
positive experiences for her students as a springboard for future growth and
development in the arts. The foundation created in the elementary years is an
important factor in the success of the middle and high school music programs.
Those who are familiar with the quality of the Smoky Valley music programs will
easily connect Nelson’s influence and impact on this tradition. Nelson commented,
“One of the main reasons I wanted to teach at Smoky Valley many years ago was
because I wanted my students to be a part of a wonderful music program at the
middle and high school when they left me. I wanted those that made a connection
to be able to continue with future great experiences.”
Nelson credits her relationship with her sister, also an elementary music teacher, as
a contributing factor in her growth and development as a teacher as well as being
part of a very strong music education department at USD 400. While she is known
as the Soderstrom music teacher in general, many community members see
Nelson’s impact outside of the school system. Nelson is an integral volunteer at a
number of local festivals and programs, including Svensk Hyllningsfest, the St. Lucia
Festival, McPherson County All Schools Day, Broadway RFD and many others. If you
have enjoyed watching Smoky Valley youngsters sing and dance at these festivals,
you have witnessed Nelson’s hard work and dedication to the community.
Professionally, Nelson currently serves on the board of the Kansas Orff Chapter and
is a member of the American Orff Schulwerk Association, the Kansas Music
Educators Association and the Kansas National Education Association. Nelson has
made presentations to colleagues at the Kansas Music Educators Association
conference. In 2015, Nelson received the Outstanding Elementary Music Educator
Award for South Central Kansas and in 2016 was honored by Baker University with
the Educator Wall of Honor Award.
As part of the Smoky Valley IMPACT Teacher Award, Nelson is provided a Classroom
Learning Grant in the amount of $500 from the Smoky Valley Education Foundation.
This grant will enable Nelson to select supplies, equipment or other learning tools
for her music classroom that will benefit her students. Nelson is also eligible to
apply for the Kansas State Department of Education’s Kansas Teacher of the Year
(KTOY) program as the district’s nominee. The KTOY program provides public
recognition, professional learning and leadership development for selected
teachers across the state.
Nelson’s award was presented in front of family, friends and colleagues at the
November 8, 2021 USD 400 Board of Education meeting. A plaque was presented
to her in recognition of her talents and service