Auburn University doctoral grad named semifinalist for 2021 GRAMMY Music Educator Award

Published: November 02, 2020
Updated: November 03, 2020
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Auburn University doctoral graduate Justin Antos recently was named a semifinalist for the GRAMMY Music Educator Award by the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum.

Antos, a 2017 doctoral graduate who teaches at Dwight D. Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, Illinois, made the impressive list of semifinalists not only for his impressive range of accomplishments, but also for his outstanding character. Eisenhower is a Title I school located about two miles southwest of Chicago. Roughly 85% of its students come from low-income households and are eligible for free and reduced lunch.

“This obviously poses a threat to instrumental music classes,” Antos said. “We have a very high undocumented population, and it is not uncommon for my students to have to work full-time or part-time jobs to help their families put food on the table.

“As a result of this, I do my best to structure my classes where I teach the whole child and ensure that my students’ health, safety and happiness are met before any curricular instruction occurs. Despite my students’ obstacles, they are proud of their ensembles and continue to make band and orchestra a priority in their lives. I feel as though I have an obligation to them to be my best every single day.”

The Music Educator Award recognizes current educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools. Finalists will be announced in December, and the recipient will be recognized during GRAMMY Week 2021.

The award is open to current U.S. music teachers, and anyone can nominate a teacher—students, parents, friends, colleagues, community members, school deans and administrators. Teachers are also able to nominate themselves, and nominated teachers are notified and invited to fill out an application.

Each year, one recipient is selected from 10 finalists and recognized for their remarkable impact on students’ lives. They will receive a $10,000 honorarium and matching grant for their school’s music program.

The nine additional finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium and matching grants. The remaining 15 semifinalists will receive a $500 honorarium with matching school grants.

Since joining the Eisenhower staff in 2009, Antos took an instrumental music program of one band of just more than 40 students and transformed it into three curricular bands, two curricular orchestras and a guitar program, now serving more than 300 students. His concert bands, marching bands, jazz ensembles and orchestras have earned numerous top finishes and Division I ratings over the past several years at various state and national festivals. Antos also conducts the school’s award-winning show choir combo, musical pit band, mariachi band and pep band and facilitates 15 different chamber ensembles.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Antos is a respected scholar who has published several articles in practitioner and academic journals and has presented at numerous music education conferences throughout the United States. He frequently performs as a freelance percussionist and studio musician in the Chicagoland area and operates his own home recording studio, where he provides free demo recordings for up-and-coming artists.

For all of his accomplishments, Antos continues to cherish his Auburn experiences.

“My time at Auburn was incredibly rewarding,” he said. “Dr. Nancy BarryDr. Jane Kuehne and Dr. Rick Good, among others, challenged me artistically and academically and helped me realize my potential as a musician and scholar. The beautiful campus, esteemed faculty, electric environment and rigorous coursework helped shape me into the educator I am today.

“I graduated with my Ph.D. in May of 2017 and earned the Distinguished Dissertation Award from the Graduate School that same year. I went on to publish my research, present at several music education conferences throughout the United States, and finish my National Board Teaching Certification. I could not be more proud to call myself an Auburn Tiger. War Eagle!”

Founded in 1915, the Auburn University College of Education enrolls 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students. Four academic units offer 60 degree options in teaching, special education, educational leadership, kinesiology, counseling, adult education, educational technology and educational psychology. The College is committed to diversity and inclusion and maintains a focus on outstanding teaching, consequential research and solution-oriented outreach in order to fulfill its mission of making a better world for all, including those most in need.