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Annandale HS teacher wins Grammy Award for music education

Annandale High School Orchestra Director Annie Ray with some of her students (courtesy FCPS)

(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) Annandale High School’s orchestra director is on her way to Los Angeles for the upcoming Grammy Awards.

Annie Ray, who teaches music and leads the orchestra program at the school, is the winner of the 2024 Grammy Music Educator Award, CBS Mornings announced today.

Given out by the Recording Academy and Grammy Museum, the award honors music teachers who make 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 schools. It can go to public and private school teachers of students in preschool through college.

Ray’s family, students and colleagues erupted in cheers when her name was announced during a watch party in Annandale High School’s auditorium, according to Fairfax County Public Schools.

“It’s been a whirlwind experience!” Ray said in a press release. “I’m so thankful to all the people who have poured love into me to allow me to make music. I am honored to have been selected from a remarkable group of educators.”

As the award winner, Ray will get a $10,000 honorarium and a matching grant to support her school’s music program. She was chosen from 10 finalists and more than 2,000 nominees.

Recognized by FCPS just last year as its Region 2 Outstanding Secondary School Teacher, Ray’s three-year tenure at Annandale High has already included the creation of a Crescendo Orchestra for students with severe developmental or intellectual disabilities and an FCPS Parent Orchestra where parents learn to play the same instrument as their kids.

The parent orchestra attracts over 150 parents every year, according to FCPS, which describes Ray as a “passionate advocate for universal access to quality music education.”

“Annie is known for her passion, skill, and belief that every student can achieve greatness,” Annandale High School Principal Shawn DeRose said to FCPS. “Her impact and dedication has made a positive difference in the school community. She truly is an inspiration, and we are so proud of her.”

Before joining Annandale High, Ray taught at Glasgow Middle School in Lincolnia and Annandale Terrace Elementary School.

In an interview with CBS News correspondent Jamie Waxman, Ray said playing in Annandale’s symphony orchestra teaches students confidence and gives them the willingness to make a wrong note. Students describe her as a leader “who doesn’t lead” but instead talks to and encourages them.

The show surprised Ray with a congratulations video from British singer-songwriter Jacob Collier, whose song “Little Blue” became a source of solace after a close friend of hers died.

Ray will officially receive the Music Educator Award at the 66th annual Grammy Awards ceremony, which will air at 8 p.m. this Sunday (Feb. 4) on CBS.

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