Buffalo Grove High School orchestra instructor finalist for Grammy's '2020 Music Educator Award'

BUFFALO GROVE, Ill. (WLS) -- A suburban schoolteacher who's helped put some talented musicians in the spotlight is now taking center stage.

Buffalo Grove High School's orchestra instructor, Elizabeth Bennett, is being honored as one of the nation's 10 best music educators, and could even win a Grammy.

"It is both humbling and exciting," Bennett said.

Bennett, a Northwestern University music graduate, has been nominated as one of 10 finalists nationwide for the Grammy's "2020 Music Educator Award."

"Music that we see in the world doesn't start with a pop star or rock star, it often starts in our educational systems," Bennett said.

The 38-year-old specialist in the bassoon has spent nearly half her life teaching and breaking down stereotypes about what it takes to make a life in music. She said she learned that lesson 20 years ago in Iowa, when she was a part of a high school orchestra that won a Grammy.

"I strive to show that there are so many careers within music, within our world and anyone who wants to can pursue them. You don't have to look a certain way, you don't have to be a certain way," she said.

However, consideration for a Grammy doesn't really happen without the Board of Education and the administration putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to arts education.

Bennett said one of her crowning achievements is a music workshop course at Buffalo Grove High School, which she keeps open to anyone.

"I kept seeing so many students in study hall or hanging out in music area, but they weren't necessarily in our programs and they wanted to be," Bennett said.

"We have been consuming information for a long time, giving them information to take in and regurgitate, and it is time for that to change. And Elizabeth has been a big part of changing that mantra of students are here to create," said Buffalo Grove High School Principal Jeff Wardle.

Bennett stands to win $10,000, both for herself and her school, with a win in New York.

"Every single one of my students has a gift that they can offer to this world and I get to be the one that allows them to share that through music," Bennett said.

Tune in to the Grammy's on January 26 to see if she takes home the prize.
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