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Cool at School: Clark High School Teacher Vies for Grammy

LAS VEGAS - The sounds of a Grammy nominee fill the halls of Clark High School. Dr. Chuck Cushinery is one of 10 music educators nationwide vying for the music industry's top honor.

"I didn't know the award existed until I got an e-mail that said someone nominated (me)," he said.

That someone was his son. For the first time, the Grammy Foundation is awarding a Grammy award for Music Educator of the Year. Out of 30,000 entries, ten nominees remain, including Dr. Cushinery.

"It's wonderful. It's a really interesting experience," he said. "It made me really hone in who I am as a teacher and why it's so important to me."

His son isn't the only one touting Dr. Cushinery's skills. His students also vouch for his excellence.

"He makes it funny. Sometimes, he doesn't take it too seriously, but obviously it can be serious, especially during festival time. But, he does make it pretty fun," said senior Ashley Hill.

"He's kind of like the father of his orchestra students. We can go to him for non-orchestra-related things. He'll help us through that too. It makes him like a family member," added junior Andrew Cruz.

Dr. Cushinery started as a part-time instructor at Clark High School in 1997 with 39 students playing strings. Now, he has more than 400, making his class the largest collection of strings students in Nevada. His class has already made two trips to Carnegie Hall in New York City.

"The pressure on them is different. You really have to get to know them," he said. "I know a lot of these kids for seven years. You get to know them, treat them as individuals and respect them."

Regardless if he wins the Grammy, he says he's already made it big.

"There is no place bigger than Clark High School. The grass is as green as you make it. There is no place I'd rather be," he said.

Dr. Cushinery expects a phone call by next week to tell him if he won the award. The Grammy Awards air on Channel 8 Sunday, January 26 at 8 p.m.

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