Robb receives heartfelt recognition with Scottish Rite Educator of the Year honor

Irving Middle School students and staff sang the praises of Mike Robb this spring when he received one of the school district’s most prestigious awards.
Students and staff filled Irving’s auditorium with applause and cheers after Robb was named the 2024 Scottish Rite Educator of the Year. A selection committee recognized the longtime music teacher for his positive educational impact on thousands of Lincoln Public Schools students. He learned he was this year’s recipient during a surprise announcement April 12.
Robb, who has taught at Irving for the past 23 years, was formally honored May 10 during a portrait ceremony. He said he was filled with a thankful heart for being in music education.
“There are so many teachers that are deserving of this award,” Robb said. “To be one of the ones who have received it is a huge honor, and I’m very grateful.”
Katie Robb said it has been inspiring to watch her husband devote his life’s work to helping others. She has seen him leave for school well before dawn and sometimes not return until after sunset. The hours in between include general sixth-grade music classes, choir classes and lessons for students in grades 6-8, practices for all-school musicals and introductions to ukuleles, drums and guitars.
“He has a gift, and I’m grateful he uses it to impact students,” Katie said. “I think there are kids that I know that don’t look forward to coming to school. There’s got to be one thing that motivates them to do it, and he does a great job of impacting kids and making them feel part of something.”
Lincoln Board of Education member Piyush Srivastav has also seen firsthand Robb’s dedication. Both of Srivastav’s daughters attended Irving and learned about melodies and harmonies from the veteran teacher.
“He finds their voices and lifts them up,” Srivastav told the Irving audience. “He has earned the respect of his students, colleagues, families and community members, and that is why we are honoring him today with this award. We are proud of the work that you do and your passion and dedication in serving others, and for igniting the passion of music and the arts in our students.”
Sometimes referred to as the Heisman Trophy of teaching at LPS, the Scottish Rite Educator of the Year honor is given to only one teacher annually. Robb’s portrait will be featured alongside past winners on an interactive display at the Steve Joel District Leadership Center.
The Lincoln native sang a solo in his first middle school choir concert, and he has remained in a musical mood ever since. He performed in Nebraska Wesleyan University choirs and earned a degree in music education in 1997. He taught elementary music classes in Bellevue for three years before arriving at Irving.
Robb said he feels blessed to spend his career helping youth learn about the power of music.
“To be able to share that gift every day with students is an honor,” Robb said. “It’s definitely a passion of mine. It’s part of who I am and I love doing it every day.”
His enthusiasm has cascaded across Irving’s entire music department. Allison Linton is in her first year leading the school’s band program. She said Robb has been a valuable mentor as she plays the first notes of her own career.
“Anytime I have a question, he’s more than happy to answer it and give me all the information I need,” Linton said. “With being a first-year teacher comes a lot of new opportunities and new experiences, and Mike has been really great in walking me through those as needed and just giving me all the support I could imagine.”
Austin Hegert guides Irving’s orchestra department and has worked with Robb for four years. He said it is impressive to watch Robb’s leadership abilities.
“Mike is one of the most fantastic teachers I’ve ever seen at developing relationships with the kids,” Hegert said. “There’s a level of respect that I aspire to build in my classroom. The kids are so open to being themselves in his room, and you see it anytime you get to see his classes.”
When Robb’s name was announced, the decibel level skyrocketed inside Irving’s auditorium. Hegert and Linton both said they were proud to hear that amount of applause.
“I mean, we were excited to hear Mike’s name, but I don’t know if any of us that know him were surprised,” Hegert said. “If there’s anyone in this building that embodies that award and that level of work and that professionalism, it’s Mike.”
“Band and music in general takes so much trust to do silly things and things that you may not be comfortable with,” Linton said. “And Mike is just so good at making the students feel like that’s where they belong in the choir classroom. And he just gets so much respect out of the students that it’s very, very well-deserved.”
LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman said it was appropriate to sing Robb’s praises for everything he has accomplished at LPS.
“I am so glad that we are honoring a music teacher with this award, because the arts bring all other subjects together,” Gausman told Robb. “The arts are mathematical, scientific, they are language, they are historical. You do that work with such positive energy, and we are really, really proud of you.”
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Published: May 16, 2024, Updated: May 16, 2024

Irving Middle School music teacher Mike Robb smiles with his wife Katie at the Scottish Rite Educator of the Year portrait ceremony May 10. Robb received the 2024 Scottish Rite Educator of the Year Award. He was honored for helping hundreds of Irving students during his teaching career.