This award is named for Nellie Tholen, a professor of music and piano at Lewis and Clark College and an avid supporter of OMTA. A leading music pedagogue, who taught and inspired her own students with great skill and passion, she encouraged and supported teachers to become great 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 the region.

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. Any OMTA member or district may submit the name of a teacher for consideration for the Nellie Tholen Award. At least three letters of recommendation are required of all nominations, including at least one recommendation from a student of the nominee. The letters of recommendation should speak fully and directly to the above-referenced ideals.

 A vote by the Board of Directors is required for the honor to be conferred.

The Nellie Tholen Excellence in Teaching Award is not a regularly occurring nor an annual award. It 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.


2023 Jan Mittelstaedt, NCTM, Portland
2020 Mary Hall Kogen, Portland
2018 Dorothy Fahlman, NCTM, Portland
2016 Joan Gathercoal, NCTM, Corvallis
2014 Virginia Buhn, NCTM, Eugene