ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – A music teacher at Arvada West High School was nominated for the Music Educator Grammy Award – again! This is the second time Chris Maunu has been named among 10 other nominees.

Chris Maunu (credit: CBS)

“Any time teachers can be validated for all the hard work we do, it feels really good,” said Maunu. “It’s a huge honor, there were 3,300 initial nominations. So to be mentioned in the Top 10 is just an incredible honor.”

After losing out on the Grammy two years ago, the students took the loss harder than the teacher. So they decided to nominate him again.

“He has brought so much joy and happiness, he has helped me through so many of my hard times,” said Aryanna Kemler, a senior at Arvada West who submitted the nomination. “He just encourages me every day to become a better version of my life.”

In 2018, the school told CBS4 since Maunu became director in 2006, the choir department has grown from 140 to over 300 members over several different choirs.

Maunu has started to challenge the students with tackling more intense topics including school safety, teen suicide and the refugee crisis.

“Singing is one of the most vulnerable things that we can do. We create this sound from within ourselves and that sound leaves our bodies it’s met with judgment and criticism. So part of what we can do is have kids recognize that vulnerability and support one another in that,” said Maunu. “There’s something connective about music that makes it possible to approach some of these hard topics.”

Maunu says he tries to make the choir room a welcoming place so all singers can be more comfortable while discussing such serious topics.

“I’m able to come into class every day and feel safe and feel like I am able to give my all and be vulnerable in class and try new things. we have learned so much about each other and what it means when we sing this music. We are making a change,” said Kemler.

Each nominee and their schools get $1,000 each. The winner and their school each get $10,000. The winner will be flown to Los Angeles for the event.

Chris Maunu

(credit: CBS)

But Maunu says it’s not about money or awards.

“I think it’s really important for my kids to see hey with hard work and passion and dedication, big things can happen,” he said.

“The annual Music Educator Award recognizes teachers 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,” the Recording Academy stated.

Watch the 62th Annual Grammy Awards live on Sunday, Jan. 26, on CBS4. Learn more about the show on CBSDenver.com.

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