This award is named for Nellie Tholen, a professor of music and piano at Lewis and Clark College and an avid supporter of OMTA. She was a wonderful teacher who taught and inspired her own students with great skill and passion and who also encouraged and supported others to become great teachers themselves. Nellie Tholen’s generous support of music throughout Oregon and her unstinting commitment to the improvement of music teaching has had an enduring influence on the quality of music and music education in Oregon.

This award recognizes OMTA members who have demonstrated exceptional and inspirational music teaching, who have made significant contributions to their communities and to OMTA, and who have been members of OMTA for at least 20 years.

Teaching Award nominations may be proposed by any OMTA member or district and should include at least one recommendation from a student of the nominee. A vote by the Board of Directors is required for the honor to be conferred.

The Nellie Tholen Excellence in Teaching Award is not an annual award.


This award is not a regularly occurring award and is conferred at the discretion of the Honors Committee and the Board of Directors. If you would like to suggest a candidate for this award, please contact the Honors Chair.


2016 Joan Gathercoal, NCTM, Corvallis
2014 Virginia Buhn, NCTM, Eugene