The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

Annie Ray Winner of the ‘24 GRAMMY Music Educator Award


Today, Thurs. Feb. 1st, AHS orchestra teacher Annie Ray has been named the winner of the ’24 GRAMMY Music Educator Award. Students, Faculty and friends and family of Ray gathered in the auditorium at 8 a.m. to watch the News of Ray’s winnings live on CBS.

The GRAMMYs are recognized as the highest prestigious honor in music worldwide and are known as music’s
biggest event of the year. Each year the award show presents the Music Educator Award which is meant to acknowledge educators from kindergarten up to college level who have cultivated meaningful and lasting
efforts in the music education field and who also demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in schools.

Candidates for the award undergo a rigorous and long selection process with many different rounds of selections including; nomination, quarter-finalist, semi-finalist, finalists, and then the winner of the award. Ray was selected from over 2,000 initial nominees and as the winner will receive a $10,000 honorarium and a matching
grant for their school’s music program.

“There are many rounds of selection and this process has been going on for the past two years. I initially was
a Semifinalist (top 25) two years ago. I was renominated by a colleague last year and there were multiple inter-
views, videos made, observations, panels, etc,” Ray said.

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Ray describes once hearing the news of her advancement as a finalist as feeling completely shocked. “I still feel like I’m processing it. It’s not something I would have ever expected to happen,” Ray said.

Ray’s work as a music educator does not end after school hours, as she has founded and run many programs that bring the opportunity for music education for all in the AHS community.

“Besides the Annandale and Crescendo Orchestras, I founded and run the FCPS Parent Orchestra which has over 200 caregivers learning how to play their child’s instrument each year. I also run the equity and inclusion division for StringRise, am a clinician and mentor, and regular conference presenter. I also gig as a freelance harpist extensively,” Ray said.

Ray’s deep commitment and dedication to these programs helped Ray win the 2023 FCPS Outstanding Secondary Teacher of the Year award. Yet one of Ray’s biggest accomplishments isn’t any award, but her connections with her students.

“Mrs. Ray might be a teacher but she does more than just teach. She provides everyone with opportunities and encourages a better future,” senior orchestra student Marc Akl said.

“I’m lucky because I get a lot of my students for four plus years which is really rare. Because of that, we have
time and space to create meaningful relationships,” Ray said. “I am so lucky I get to teach the coolest students in the
world. It’s truly humbling every day to be on the podium and learn as much from them every day as I hope I teach

Ray’s time as an educator helped shape and deepen her passion for music.

“Being a teacher makes me a better musician. It makes me dive deep into things and see connections. Seeing a spark in my student’s interest makes me more enthusiastic and want to know/learn more myself. Nothing is more fun than sharing things I’ve learned and am excited about with my students,” Ray said.

Ray will be in attendance at The GRAMMY’s on Sun. Feb. 4 in Los Angeles California and will be available to watch on CBS and Paramount+ from 8 -11:30 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Emily Hawkins
Emily Hawkins, Co-Editor in Chief
Senior Emily Hawkins is thrilled to be this year's Co-Editor in Chief of The A-Blast. This is her third year in the program and was previous In-Depth Editor and Arts Editor. When she’s not at school she enjoys listening to music, reading, crocheting or hanging out with friends. She hopes to pursue further education in university and to study communications and journalism. She is looking forward to a great last year on staff!

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