Monday, October 2, 2023

'It’s not a job to me’ | GHS band director named quarterfinalist for 2024 Music Educator Award


Mario Morales has only been the director of bands at Granbury High School for one academic year — but he has already left a lasting impact that his students will remember forever.

Morales was recently named a quarterfinalist in the 2024 Music Educator Awards.

And no one is more surprised than Morales himself.

“I was like, ‘What?’ like, you know, just surprised,” he said, chuckling. “But I feel honored. The whole point of this is inspiration and motivation, and an impact (that I made on) someone — a student, or an administrator — so I'm very honored and I'm in disbelief.”

According to, the Music Educator 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.

“I have no idea who did it,” Morales said. “It's just one of those things where it could have been a student, it could have been a parent, it could have been an administrator; we won’t know, and they won't tell you. But it's humbling for sure.”

The Music Educator Award recognizes 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, according to the website.

Morales is one of 212 music teachers who were named as quarterfinalists, including 15 other teachers from Texas.

The quarterfinalists — who hail from 197 cities — were selected from more than 2,000 submitted nominations.

According to, one recipient will be selected from 10 finalists and will be recognized for their remarkable impact on students' lives. The 10th annual honoree will be flown to Los Angeles to attend the 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, as well as a range of GRAMMY Week events.

The nine additional finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants.

Fifteen semi-finalists will also receive a $500 honorarium with matching school grants.

Morales, who previously taught as the band director at Kauffman ISD and Castleberry ISD, said coming to Granbury was the best decision he’s made.

"It has been wonderful,” he said. “Everyone's been welcoming. Our students have been willing to work hard for all the new directors. The community members, superintendent, and administration have just been wonderful and really supportive in the arts.”

He said his favorite part about being the band director at GHS is being able to work with students and create music.

“It’s not a job to me,” he said. “Creating music, that’s my entire day.”

Morales said he is all about his students and that their future is a priority to him.

“At the end of the day, I want our students to have fun in band,” he said. “I want them to continue to work hard and learn the skills that they learn in band so when they leave high school, they have the tools they need to be productive and create lifelong memories; just building that culture.”

Semi-finalists for the 2024 Music Educator Award will be announced this September. The ultimate recipient will be recognized during GRAMMY Week 2024.

“I think it’s super cool, and I can’t wait until the next phase,” Morales added. “We’ll see (what happens).”


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