Scott music teacher honored with Scottish Rite award

It was not your typical interlude between musical numbers at the Scott Middle School band concert Thursday night at Lincoln Southwest High School. After the jazz band finished “Tyrannosaurus Charlie” and before the sixth-grade musicians settled in for their first song, Scott music teacher Jacque Rush was the honoree in a surprise award ceremony.

Rush was named the 2019 Scottish Rite Distinguished Teacher of the Year, a prestigious award presented annually to a Lincoln Public Schools teacher. It comes with a cash prize of $7,500, donated by the local chapter of the Scottish Rite organization.

Rush was surprised - to say the least.

“That was just mind blowing - I had absolutely no idea,” she said afterwards.

Many of Rush’s colleagues, family, friends, LPS administrators and Scottish Rite representatives - not to mention an entire middle school band and hundreds of audience members - were on hand Thursday for the announcement. Dale Lueders from the Scottish Rite presented Rush with the award and the check. LPS Associate Superintendent for Human Resources Eric Weber and Superintendent Steve Joel spoke of the significance of the honor and how fitting it was that Rush was its latest winner.    

Rush described winning the award as “overwhelming” and “everything.”

“I’ve worked so hard and I just love teaching,” she said. “This is just amazing to be recognized for that but honestly I don’t think I do anything different than any other teacher.”

Rush has taught music for more than 40 years and at Scott since the school opened in 1996. Scott typically has more than 300 students enrolled in its instrumental music program, making it the largest in LPS. Since 1997, more than 2,300 of her students have earned individual superior ratings in solo and ensemble competitions. Rush has former students who are now music educators in Lincoln, across Nebraska and nationwide, as well as others who perform professionally.

But her impact goes far beyond her impressive resume. In his nomination letter, Scott Principal Marco Pedroza wrote this about Rush: “She has truly enriched the lives of thousands of students through the years by giving them a great music education...Her strong work ethic combined with her high expectations help develop lifelong skills in all of her students...She spends countless hours working with students teaching them not only music but life skills.   Through her work with her students she engages and connects them to the school community.”

Beyond LPS, Rush has volunteered on committees with the Nebraska Music Education Association (NMEA) and the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association (NSBA). Her bands have been asked to perform at the annual NMEA conference, annual NSBA convention, State Capitol assemblies and Worlds of Fun. Rush also received the prestigious Jack R. Snider Young Band Director Award from the NSBA.

Rush will be honored again during a special event in the fall at LPS District Office, where she’ll be featured along with past winners in an interactive display located outside the boardroom.

Published: May 2, 2019, Updated: May 3, 2019

“She has truly enriched the lives of thousands of students through the years by giving them a great music education..."

Marco Pedroza, Scott Middle School principal