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Northwest Band Director Receives State Honors

Northwest Band Director teaches class

Northwest High School Band Director Josh Pace instructs his class after returning to in-person learning.

In just three years at Northwest High School, band director Josh Pace has made a lasting impact on students and the program. This spring, the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association (NSBA) recognized Pace with the Jack R. Snider Young Band Director Award to celebrate his excellence.

“I’m really humbled by the whole thing,” Pace said. “I keep telling people this is a reflection of my wonderful students, my wonderful families and my wonderful administration. Without them, I would not be able to be recognized.”

In this year’s virtual award ceremony, NSBA award chair Steve Steager shared highlights from nomination letters by colleagues, supervisors and staff praising Pace’s talent, personality, work ethic and dedication to his students. 

“I just live for the spark in the students’ eyes when they understand something musically,” Pace said. “I can’t play the notes on their instruments, I can’t make them sound amazing. That’s their job, they just need somebody to tell them what they’re capable of. It’s been a joy to be a part of that.”

Northwest Principal Thomas Lee said Pace created a seamless transition when he took over the band program three years ago. His encouraging personality and innovative ideas have engaged and challenged his students.

“He’s one of the hardest-working band directors I have seen. He really has embraced Northwest,” Lee said. “Josh came in and it was like there was no gap. He built those relationships right off the ground. He had the kids out there on the front lawn with the marching band, he brought back flag corps. I can’t say enough about the wonderful work he has done, and he’s well-deserving of that award.”

Pace responded to the challenges of teaching both remotely and in person with creativity, whether it was finding ways to set up the classroom for blended learning or ensuring his students’ hard work did not go unnoticed.

“He did not allow COVID to stop him from getting his kids out there and being visible and being involved,” Lee said. “He has gone above and beyond to make ways for our kids to be successful and to be recognized and be engaged.”

This year, Pace has collaborated with his students to record and mix an album using GarageBand. To wrap up the school year, he has planned a virtual concert with livestreamed performances and an opportunity to share recordings from the album.

“This year has been a struggle, but my students see it as a challenge, and I see it as a challenge,” he said. “We’ve done so many unique things I don’t think we would’ve done otherwise.”

See more about Northwest High School's album recording. Video by students Hannah Dalton and Kierstin Copenharve.


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