January 05, 2018

Bronx Grammy music educator semifinalist now one of 10

Author: Liza Frenette
Source: NYSUT Communications
music education
Caption: In December, music teacher Melissa Salguero (pictured below) was invited to sing carols with these student members of the P.S. 48 chorus for employees at the VH1 Save The Music Foundation in Times Square. Salguero is one of 10 semifinalists from the entire country for Grammy Music Educator of the Year award. Photo provided.

UPDATE 1/26: Salguero is the 2018 Grammy Music Educator

She did it! Congratulations to Melissa Salguero, who was honored last night with this year's Grammy Music Educator Award.

Here's the full report, via CBS This Morning:


music education

As the new year of 2018 blasts open with January blizzards, Bronx public school music teacher Melissa Salguero is most definitely waiting for the phone to ring — not to hear about school delays or closings, but to see what happens next as one of 10 semifinalists from the entire country for Grammy Music Educator of the Year award.

There is nothing more she can do to prepare for this final other than to wait.

When Salguero received the phone call telling her she was one of 10 finalists, she said she was “overcome with emotion. It was one of the best moments of my life. To be named one of the top-10 music teachers in the entire nation is a huge honor!” she said, adding that she has been “all smiles” ever since.

Ten music teachers from 10 different cities in eight different states have made it to this last cut. Salguero, a member of the United Federation of Teachers, was actually nominated before, but never made this slim list. The winner will receive a $10,000 honorarium and attend the 60th Grammy Awards ceremony Jan. 28 at Madison Square Garden. The winner will also be invited to attend various Grammy Museum events.

By making the top 10, Salguero will be receiving a $1,000 honorarium and her school, P.S. 48 Joseph Drake, will get a $1,000 grant.

When Salguero made the list of 25 finalists, she was in the company of Drew Benware, a music teacher and member of the Saranac Lake Central Schools Teachers Association, and Amy Steiner, a music teacher and member of the Buffalo Teachers Federation. Benware and Steiner will each receive a $500 honorarium with a matching $500 school grant.

“That can be half of a school’s music budget,” said Christina Cassidy, Grammy communications director.

Salguero already has the shopping list for her school’s $1,000.

“Now I can buy microphones and music books!” Salguero said. “”We’ll be getting music supplies we are in dire need of. And band shirts so they can show their pride!

This elementary teacher started the fifth-grade school band seven years ago but, when the 2017-2018 school year began, she was told there was no money for band. Finally, budget items were moved around, Salguero explained, and band has just started up again with 35 students who will meet with her four times a week before the school day begins.

To help plead the case for band funding, she asked each of her fifth-graders to write about why they wanted to join band. Their responses moved her:

“Ever since I was in second grade, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a trombone.”

“I’ve been waiting to be a part of it.”

“I saw my older brother march in band and I want to be in it.”

“It’s very moving to me that they hold it in such high regard,” Salguero said.

Band is more than just playing instruments in a group.

“I work with them on leadership, integrity and teamwork,” she said. “I play games with them that build those skills.”

More good news came her way in December when she was invited to sing carols with 15 members of the P.S. 48 chorus for employees at the VH1 Save The Music Foundation in Times Square, where Viacom headquarters are located. VH1 had previously provided grants to her school for musical instruments.

“They had four days to prepare 12 songs,” she said. They memorized the words and learned choreography for the music. Salguero bought them Santa hats and glued the glittery numbers “48” on each hat.

music education

When she asked her students how many of them had been to Times Square, about half raised their hands. A few said they had seen it on TV. It’s only a few miles from the Bronx, but it’s another world for some of the students.

The morning of the event, Salguero told the select chorus students that they’d be traveling in an old yellow school bus and it didn’t have any heat, but it was important to be grateful for the transportation.

Outside, a limousine bus waited for them! The kids were ecstatic.

The Music Educator Award recognizes educators from kindergarten through college who have made a significant and lasting contribution to music education, according to the Grammy announcement. Grants provided to schools and finalists come from the Ford Motor Company Fund, the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Education, NAMM Foundation and the National Education Association.

music education
Salguero (left) in the limo bus with colleague Regina Glamore, P.S. 48.