WHO 13 NEWS – Hundreds of students filled Wells Fargo Arena to watch basketball on “Education Day” at the Iowa Wolves game. Only one teacher was recognized for her role as an educator.

Lise Nelson has been the band teacher at Moravia Schools for the past 42 years and was awarded the Golden Apple.

“This is something I’ve seen on TV, and I know it’s like the biggest honor a teacher could get,” Nelson said. “So, Moravia, I love you.”

Moravia Schools in southeast Iowa is a small district, but their band has seen huge success. It’s all thanks to Nelson who’s dedicated her life’s work to teaching kids how to play music.

“Mrs. Nelson’s kind of like my second mom,” Elizabeth Cremeens, a senior at Moravia, said. “She does everything for the band, makes sure the uniforms get cleaned and makes sure if we need a loaner instrument, we get those instruments.”

“A go-getter. Strict and fun,” Matthew Seals, another senior at Moravia, said. “And she likes to win, she doesn’t like to lose.” 

Trophies fill the band room in Moravia, but Mrs. Nelson’s success is measured beyond ratings and awards. She teaches students from when they’re in fifth grade to seniors in high school.

“I watch them grow up,” Nelson said. “They’re 10 and then when they’re done, they’re 18. You watch them develop as musicians. You teach them how to hold their horn, where their fingers go, and then you watch them perform and improvise solo at a jazz festival and you kind of think whoa. Look what they took. They took it and ran.”

It didn’t take a Golden Apple to know Nelson was dedicated.

“Everything that she does and she goes above and beyond,” Kevin Cochran, principal at Moravia, said, “because she probably spends more time at the school outside of school hours than she does inside school hours.”

The 81 nominations definitely showed her how much her efforts are appreciated.

“Thank you so much, everybody. I never dreamed in a zillion years I would get anything like this,” Nelson said. “I do my job, and I love it. So go blue!”

There are 380 students in Moravia Schools, and 59 students are in band grades 7-12.

You can watch the full interview with Mrs. Nelson below:

Check out more Golden Apple Award winners here.