Band director Mike Wilson was surprised Friday morning at Lewis School in Valparaiso with a $250 “Thank a Teacher” award from HCA Florida Healthcare for his dedicated mentorship and positive impact on students.
- Wilson was nominated by a colleague for the recognition.
Around 10:45 a.m., Wilson was in the teacher’s lounge during his lunch period. There, Lewis School Assistant Principal Amy Morgan and Catherine Card (Public Information Officer for the Okaloosa County School District), Zach McCluskey (CEO of HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital) presented Wilson with the award certificate, $250 check and praised his commitment to student success.
“He is a standout because he always goes over and above. From 5th grade band all the way through 8th grade band. He also works with the high school every summer at band camp,” said Morgan of Wilson’s dedication. “Our Lewis kids are a little nervous about going to Niceville High School but when they show up and Mr. Wilson’s on the field too, they feel so comforted.”
Zach McCluskey, CEO of HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital, read excerpts from Wilson’s nomination letter highlighting his dedication through the band program at Lewis and ensuring students transition smoothly to high school band.
- “Mr. Wilson embodies the qualities of an exceptional educator. His passion for music, dedication to student success, and commitment to fostering a positive learning environment make him an ideal candidate,” McCluskey read. “Mr. Wilson spends countless hours with students after school providing lessons and tutoring. His dedication to his students can be seen all the way through those students that have left Lewis and are thriving in music programs across the district and the state.”
The award is part of an initiative between HCA Florida Healthcare and the Okaloosa County School District to recognize impactful district teachers. More than 100 submissions have been received since its launch in December.
For 10 years at Lewis, Wilson has spearheaded the band program. Additionally, he collaborates across the district to address individual student needs and ensures access to instruments.
- “Even our students who don’t have access to instruments. Mr. Wilson always tells them ‘it’s not a problem. We’ll get it for you,‘” said Morgan.
According to Morgan, even his former students often return to Lewis seeking Wilson’s guidance or to mentor younger pupils themselves. Wilson is known for encouraging school spirit and seizing opportunities to showcase the excellence of the Lewis band program.
“He has compassion for students and a lot of integrity,” added Morgan.