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Grammy's name Arvada West High School teacher finalist for music educator award

Music's biggest night will mean so much more this year to choral director Chris Maunu.

ARVADA, Colo. — The Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum has announced an Arvada West High School (AWHS) music teacher as one of their 10 finalists for their Music Educator of the Year award.  

The award recognizes educators who have made significant contributions in the classroom and committed to keeping music education in schools. 

“It’s a pretty humbling thing and I’m really proud,” said AWHS Head Choral Director Chris Maunu. “Any accolades or recognition that comes my way is a reflection of the incredible students I have here.”

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He’s been the school’s choral director for the past 14 years and said this school year has been one of the most difficult to stay connected with his students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They need to feel like they belong to something especially in this period of isolation (and) music provides that,” said Maunu. 

Credit: Byron Reed

Maunu said he was nominated by his students and received the news last week that he was one of 10 finalists out of about 1,000 entries from all 50 states.  

All the finalists receive a $1,000 stipend, as well as a $1,000 matching grant for their school’s music program. The winner will receive a $10,000 prize and a $10,000 matching grant for their music program. 

The Music Educator Award will be presented by the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum in January. 

Credit: Byron Reed

“It’s about validation that all of that hard work does really pay off,” said Maunu. “The fact that an organization like the GRAMMYs can recognize that is a really special thing.”

He said he wanted to share the news with his students to serve as a bright spot in a difficult year in education.

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“A lot of teachers are kind of struggling through this time, as are a lot of students, and so I would say anything positive that comes along is a special thing.”

And even though Maunu hasn’t started writing his acceptance speech, he hopes this news will be the key to stay connected with his students. 

Credit: Byron Reed

“Music unites us, it brings us all together and so when we can’t physically be together, we have music to bring us together,” said Maunu. “The award brings the recognizability of the organization, brings music education to the forefront and gets people talking about it and I think that’s a really positive thing.”

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