Albany Teacher Wins Big Award

Andy Nelson, a band director at North Albany Middle School (NAMS), has been named the first term recipient of the 2012/2013 Education Celebration Award, presented by the Oregon College Savings Plan. Nelson received a $1,500 award for himself, and a $5,000 check for his school today at a surprise afternoon ceremony, where more than 600 middle schoolers cheered him on.

“I feel honored and humbled to receive this award," exclaimed Nelson. "I’ve got a lot of great colleagues in music, teachers everywhere that are fantastic. I also have great kids; every year, I get new students and they always amaze me. You expect them to do great things and they do – and then you feed them more and they just keep eating it up."

Nelson was among nearly 50 nominations received from around the state. He has been the band director for NAMS for 16 years; for eight of those, he also served as band director at West Albany High School. Prior to teaching in Albany, Nelson taught band to grades five through 12 in Weiser, Idaho. He has also served as past chair of the Oregon Music Educators Association District XI, as a clinician/judge for several area band and solo festivals, and as conductor of the Corvallis Youth Symphony Association.

His nominator, Susan South Brennan, has two daughters who have been taught by Nelson; she cited him as a “tireless, fearless advocate for kids. He lifts kids up who have tough home lives, instilling confidence and a lifelong love of music. Even kids who are musically challenged or have a chronic illness or disability have a place in Andy's band.”

According to NAMS principal Jane Evans, “Andy is a kid magnet who has high expectations, and the kids want to meet them knowing that the outcome will be outstanding. Any student who wants to play gets an opportunity, as he finds a way to get an instrument into their hands. He celebrates their accomplishments together and even follows their high school music careers. Andy, like our staff at NAMS, is a teacher that truly does what is best for kids and is an integral part of their success.”

The Oregon College Savings Plan presents the Education Celebration Award to an educator in the Oregon K-12 educational system who has motivated and inspired children to be better students. The program began with the 2011/2012 academic year and featured winners from Roseburg, Halsey and West Linn. In total, the Oregon College Savings Plan has awarded $27,000 to schools and educators since founding the Education Celebration program.

Nominations are now being accepted for the winter term, and may come from any Oregon resident who has the opportunity to observe an effective educator in action; to nominate an educator, visit No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Visit for official rules and prize details. Submit nominations by April 15, 2013.

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