Smoky Valley IMPACT Teacher Award

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