VERMILLION COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - There's an old saying that says "music gives wings to the mind."
Those are appropriate words for this Golden Apple winner.
Erika Stepp is a music teacher who's in perfect rhythm with her students.
She will tell you she loves to play music...but she loves to teach it even more.
Stepp is the music teacher at South Vermillion High School in the morning and then at the middle school in the afternoon.
She is teaching talents of all kinds...from beginners to high schoolers.
Between the two schools, Mrs. Stepp received 30 nominations for a Golden Apple.
She's only been teaching for five years.
"She taught me that it's okay to make mistakes and taught me to believe in myself," student Laynie Pitts said.
Laynie was one of the students that nominated Stepp.
"You hope you touch a kid's life every day. You walk in there and you hope you can do something to inspire a kid," Stepp said.
She has improved the program so much, the high school marching band has grown from just 13 students to now placing top five in the state.
Stepp's biggest worry is about the future.
She's concerned music programs will get cut in some schools.
Stepp knows first hand that music can be a refuge.
"It was kind of an escape for me growing up. No matter what was going on at home...I got to school and band was the place I felt really comfortable," she said.
Stepp works hard to get an instrument in the hands of all kids who want to play...regardless of cost.
"I want them to appreciate different types of music. I want them to continue to listen to it and talk about it. But I ultimately want them to be responsible. I want them to be good citizens, so when they go out into the world they're leaders. I want them to be leaders of the next generation," Stepp told us.