Teacher Who Created Orchestra For Students With IDD Wins Grammy

Annie Ray attends the Special Merit Awards Ceremony, part of the Grammy Awards, in Los Angeles. (Anna Webber/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

The Grammy Awards aren’t just for people like Taylor Swift and SZA. A high school music teacher who founded an orchestra for students with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities also took one home.

Annie Ray, conductor and head of the performing arts department at Annandale High School in Virginia, last weekend received the Music Educator Award, an annual honor given by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Museum to recognize those who have made a “significant and lasting contribution” to the field of music education.

Ray was selected for her work promoting universal access to music education, particularly for creating a parent orchestra that allows nearly 200 caregivers to learn to play an instrument alongside their children and the Crescendo Orchestra program, which teaches students with disabilities to play music.

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The award was presented to Ray at the Recording Academy’s Special Merit Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles. He also attended the Grammy Awards where he rubbed shoulders with music industry stars.

“This award is 100% my students’ award,” Ray said during an interview backstage at the Grammys. “They are the coolest kids in the world at Annandale High School.”

Ray will receive a $10,000 honorarium and a matching grant for his school’s music program.

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