NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Students at staff at P.S. 48 in the Bronx were on hand Thursday night as music teacher Melissa Salguero was given this year’s GRAMMY Music Educator Award.
She started her career in South Florida but came to the Bronx to reestablish a music program in a school that went without one for 30 years.
To see the impact Salguero has had on P.S.48, one simply has to talk to her students.
In sync with the sunrise, if not yet with one another, the fifth graders arrive an hour early for band practice.
“They come in before school, because we have so much need for them to be in the classroom and have them get their math and their English,” she told CBS News’ Michelle Miller. “So band is a before-school activity.”
Believe it or not, progress comes quickly.
“At the end of the day, it’s not going to be Carnegie Hall, but that’s not what we want. What I want is I want the kids to get the experience of working hard,” she said.
“Teaching, this age especially, it has to be something dramatic. It has to be something that is going to grab their attention,” she added.
Making a musical carrot or a keyboard out of bananas can do just that.
“I never had a teacher like this. She’s different in so many different ways. It’s amazing,” student Iseel Sierra said.
Sierra, Rushawn Greene and Luis Galvez are in the fifth grade band and chorus.
“She makes us feel special about ourselves. She doesn’t care how we sing,” said Galvez.
“What we are trying to say is that she makes our day,” Greene added. “She makes us feel great.”
If you’ve ever doubted the power of a great teacher, you should hear Galvez talk about how big a deal Salguero really is.
“Not every day you get to meet a person that is so important in your life and that will teach you a bunch of things about life and stuff,” he said.
P.S. 48 has its challenges. It’s located in one of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods where most families earn less than $25,000 a year and 22 percent of the school’s students are homeless.
“I feel like I was born to teach at this school,” Salguero said.