ARVADA - Within the halls of Arvada West High School, there is a music program run by Choir Director Chris Maunu who does not believe he is a rock star.
"Whatever small part I can play in elevating my student's experience, that's what it's about," Maunu said.
Even though Maunu is not a rock star, Senior Elena Naccarato believes her teacher should be recognized like one.
"I think the number one thing about him is his heart is all in it," Naccarato said.
Maunu has just named as one of 25 National Semi-finalists for the Grammy Music Educator Award. Another teacher, Kate Margrave, from Colorado Springs is also nominated. Maunu says this award exists because of what teachers did for today's music stars.
"They were once inspired by a music teacher and it's so cool that the Grammys do this for music education and really bring music education to the national stage," Maunu said.
Assistant Principal Shawn Collins says Maunu has put Arvada West on the map.
"I mean every year that I've been here, every single year he impresses us," Collins said. "Just like you know, you have the top football coaches in the state, they expect to win those state championships. Chris is the same with us. We just expect great things from him."
Maunu expects great things from his students. Naccarato says she and her classmates work to rise to the occasion.
"He has this way of making that choir room feel like home and I think that kids can't help but feel like themselves in there and it creates that vulnerability to just be themselves," Naccarato said.
Maunu will find out if he makes the list of 10 finalists in December. The winner will be announced in January and will receive $10,000 for personal use and $10,000 for the school. In addition, the winner will be invited to the Grammy Awards ceremony in New York City.
While the award is nice, Maunu says he doesn't do what he does for the accolades.
"Singing is so vulnerable. It's something that you create from in here," Maunu said. "If you can become a truly authentic person and be confident in who you are, as a person, that's a skill you can take with you, the rest of your life."
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