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Park Spanish Immersion Elementary music teacher selected as a Grammy semifinalist

General music teacher, David Davis, has been selected as one of 25 semifinalists for the Music Educator Award™ presented by the Recording Academy®. This award recognizes current educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution in music education. Mr. Davis has been a music educator for more than 12 years, and he joined St. Louis Park Public Schools to make music more accessible to all students.

“I always felt like in the band and orchestra world, I was in this box. I was pushing against the traditions and norms, and my goal was to teach everyone. I wanted to teach 100 percent of the students, but the system didn’t let me,” said Mr. Davis.

Mr. Davis’ has a rich background in instrumental music, and he plays saxophone locally. He started his teaching career as a 5-12 grade music instructor. He noticed barriers in instrumental education, and as he grew as a teacher, he wanted to find ways to provide equitable access to students. This led him to general music. 

General music showed new challenges and opportunities for Mr. Davis, but he still finds ways to be creative in his teaching. He incorporates instruments and uses his students’ interests to build his classes. He hangs up pictures of inspiring artists that his students recommend, and he introduces new genres of music at the start of every class. 

“To center student voice, he is working to embed more project based experiences that resonate with our children within the music classroom. He is also collaborating with others to provide special events at different grade levels,” said Corey Maslowski, principal at Park Spanish Immersion Elementary School.
One of his ideas was to teach students using groove boxes, an electronic platform for students to make music. In the spring of 2022, Mr. Davis applied for a school grant from the Park Public Schools and Community Foundation, which enabled him to purchase groove boxes to be used in his classes. 

“We love when we get creative and innovative ideas, and we love when grant proposals have a broad impact. We get lots of applications, but he hit the nail on the head. This is an innovation that is so exciting to us,” said Ingrid Culp, co-chair of the Park Public Schools and Community Foundation. 

Students are already showing great interest and excitement as they share their music with classmates. One student started class saying “I’m not a musician,” but by the end of the class the student was excited to make a rap.

“David asks good questions, seeks multiple perspectives, and strives to make our school a better place. He continues to grow as a teacher and learner, and he is also currently enrolled in the LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) program to help make literacy connections stronger for students,” shared Principal Maslowski.

Mr. Davis’ commitment to holistic learning is what elevates him as a semifinalist for the Music Educator Award™ presented by the Recording Academy®. In December, 10 finalists will be selected. Of those 10, one recipient will be recognized for their remarkable impact on students' lives. They will receive a $10,000 honorarium and matching grant for their school's music program. The nine additional finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium and matching grants. The remaining 15 semifinalists will receive a $500 honorarium with matching school grants.

The matching grants provided to the schools are made possible by the generosity and support of the Grammy Museum's Education Champion Ford Motor Company Fund. In addition, the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Education, NAMM Foundation, and National Education Association support this program through outreach to their constituencies.