Teacher inspires inner city children

CHICAGO The effort is rewarding for her, as well as the children she teaches.

Japanese music meets Mexican in Ugaz' class where the Suzuki students learn the songs of Latin America.

"A lot of the parents and a lot of the audiences that we play for recognize the music and they clap and they sing along so we're really about engaging the audience and bridging the gap between the students and their communities," said Shalisa Kline Ugaz.

Ugaz founded the Alegre Strings program, which is based at the Merit School of Music, ten years ago. She is a finalist for the Energizer Bunny Keep Going Award.

"She's going night and day and doing wonderful things at every turn," said Duffie Adelson, Merit School president. "Most noticeably in the way she's brought her music and musical approach to all of these kids."

"Most people don't listen to classical music our age... She makes us play it and enjoy it more," said Kariana Fabian, violinist.

"I think it's kind of a way to connect with your culture and get to know it better and what better to get to know your culture than thru the music," said Ariel Garcia, violinist.

"It's about the students seeing them succeeding and overcoming barriers both with school and economic and all the different things they have to face in their community its just absolutely amazing motivating to me to see them grow up to be well rounded amazing people," said Ugaz.

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