January 26, 2018

New York teacher wins GRAMMY prize

Author: Liza Frenette
Source: NYSUT Communications
melissa salguera
Caption: Melissa Salguero inspires a young trombonist. Video screen capture via CBS This Morning.

What kind of sound should celebrate New York City teacher Melissa Salguero, winner of the GRAMMY award for Music Educator of the Year? Horns? Intense drumrolls?

Or, how about trumpets of resurrection?

Because that is, after all, what this apparently sleepless Salguero did. And continues to do. She resurrected a music program that had gone missing in the financially beleaguered P.S. 48 Joseph Drake public school in the Bronx, where 22 percent of the students are homeless.

Salguero, who bested 2,300 other contenders for this high-octane honor, teaches vocal and music classes using a mix of science, creativity and circuitry to show how music can come from many sources. She also restarted a school band.

The music students were on hand for this week’s announcement of their teacher’s huge accomplishment, cheering her on. The rest of the weekend will likely be a blur for Salguero. The United Federation of Teachers member is on the invite list for a range of GRAMMY music and museum events, and will also be in attendance at the star-studded GRAMMY awards ceremony Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

By next week she’ll likely be back to her normal routine, where she rises in the dark every day and meets with the 35 students enrolled in the school band to practice. The group almost didn’t happen this year. Budget constraints initially eliminated the band. Salguero had her students write letters and plead their case. Changes were made and band was restored. It’s not the first time the music program — or Salguero’s students — have faced adversity.

Salguero began the program seven years ago. Most of her students cannot afford to rent instruments, so she is always trying to build a supply. She also helps students learn to play music using computers and tablets.

In 2011, her students won a music video contest through “Glee” Give A Note, garnering a $50,000 prize. After vandals broke into the school and stole or trashed most of the instruments, her students wrote a song, “We Will Rise.” That song built a following and earned Salguero an invite to the “Ellen” show. Ellen DeGeneres and Shutterfly gave the school $50,000 and about $20,000 worth of new instruments.

Salguero’s recognition by the GRAMMY awards comes with a $10,000 prize for herself and $10,000 for the school.

Nominations for the GRAMMY Music Educator of the Year were submitted on behalf of teachers in all 50 states. For more information on the award, visit www.grammyintheschools.com. Grants provided to schools and finalists come from the Ford Motor Company Fund, American Choral Directors For more Association, National Association for Music Education, NAMM Foundation and the National Education Association, a national affiliate of NYSUT.