"I love my job. I love teaching kids. It’s what I was sent here to do," said Teri Gray, the Columbus Symphony’s 2009 honoree for Elementary Music Educator of the Year.
Gray teaches general music to third- through fifth-graders at London Elementary School. The symphony called her on March 20 to inform her of her selection for the award.
"I was bawling," Gray said of her reaction.
Debby Rosenthal, the symphony’s director of education and community outreach, said those phone calls are one of the best parts of her job.
"She was truly speechless," Rosenthal said. "Based on the work Teri has done in the school and what her nominators had to say about her, the selection committee thought she was deserving."
Jennifer Minner of London nominated Gray with help from Gray’s sister, Sue McClelland, and substitute school nurse, Valerie Peart. Minner and Peart both have children who attend the elementary school. Rosenthal said nominations were accepted from Franklin County and surrounding counties.
Gray will be honored at a ceremony on April 19 at the Hyatt on Capital Square in Columbus. She will share the spotlight with the symphony’s selections for Secondary Music Educator of the Year and Community Mu-sic Leader of the Year. Following the ceremony, she and eight guests will attend the symphony’s afternoon concert.
Gray also will receive a grant to buy materials for her classroom. Rosenthal said the exact amount has not been set, but that it will be in the thousands of dollars. Gray said she would use the money to replace rhythm instruments and build a music library.
Gray’s teaching career spans 26 years, starting with kindergarten through fifth-graders at Madison-Plains in 1983. She later spent seven years at Franklin Alternative Middle School in Columbus before coming to London City Schools. She taught at the middle and high schools for five years before landing at the elementary.
She is especially proud of the cross-grade level choir she helped to establish a few years ago. The group of 200 students meets before school starts to rehearse. They are capable of three-part harmony.
"I absolutely love the kids, and the parents are just as wonderful. To come in before school really shows dedication. I am overwhelmed by that," Gray said.