Julia Wayne is the Martins Ferry High School band director and she also leads the choir, percussion ensemble and jazz band, and teaches musical theater and music theory.

She smiles as she admits she IS the high school music department.

But she was nominated for lifting her students beyond the classroom and into a better place in their own lives.

In fact, she was nominated by a former student who is now a proud member of her family.

This student, Dakota, was a young man with a hard life.

Julia Wayne and her husband took him under their wing.

And HE adopted THEM.

“So he had his name legally changed,” Julia said. “And now he’s legally a Wayne. And he’s just a part of the family.”

They’ve taken in several students having hard times.

“But again, they just needed love and compassion and someone to care about them,” she said.

“I know a lot of kids who go to Mrs. Wayne before they go to anyone else with their problems,” said Jude Kutay, junior percussion student at Martins Ferry High School.

“She has a good personality—loveable, sarcastic!” added Meghan Mahan, senior saxophone student.

“She’s a good teacher when it comes to music and a good teacher when it comes to life lessons,” said Julia Buck, junior trumpet and dance line student. “Just anything you need to ask her. The reason I come to school every day is because of the music department.”

Julia created a device that allowed Hannah Patterson, a student with cerebral palsy, to march with her instrument.

“We developed a device to put her in to help her be able to maneuver around the field and use both her hands on the bass drum,” Julia recalled. “And it was maybe the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”

She gave another student the opportunity to play the cymbals on the field in her wheelchair.

“When they come through the doors of the music department, they are who they are and we love them for who they are and they won’t be judged here,” Julia said. “They can be themselves.”

“It doesn’t surprise me that she’s up for this award,” said Jim Fogle, Martins Ferry Schools superintendent. “It’s a testament to who she is. We see that daily.”

“We love her, she loves us back, it’s all good,” said Wyatt Hercules, junior trombone student.

She teaches the students to love themselves for who they are.

“And the music just assists us in that,” she said.

“And I think that makes Mrs. Wayne just a wonderful person,” said Jude Kutay.