Grammy Music Educator Award Goes to N.C. High School Teacher

Mike Lawson • News • February 15, 2016

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The Music Educator Award is given each year by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation.

In December, “CBS This Morning” announced the 10 finalists for the third annual award, selected from more than 4,500 nominees across the country for their “significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education.”

At the North Carolina School of Science and Math, the stage is full of academic virtuosos — high achievers, bound for America’s best colleges. Their maestro is Phillip Riggs, who is taking top honors as Grammy Educator of the Year, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassman.

“They’re obviously motivated, but one of the challenges I think is how do we put those folks together in two years and make an ensemble that’s challenging but attainable to everybody?” Riggs said.

This public school is unusual: juniors and seniors only and its 650 students live in dorms. Since 2008, the 50 year-old music instructor has taught band brainiacs to read from the same sheet of music and more.

Riggs said it is no easy job, but the best thing about being a music teacher comes down to his students.

“Even when they’re completely tired and mentally they’re drained from all the academic work they’ve done, you can still see in their eyes the fire of, ‘I want to do this well,'” Riggs said.

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