Sara Story, NBCDFW.com
Randy Schmidt the music teacher at Pecan Creek Elementary is Denton Independent School District's teacher of the year.
Just as many Texas school districts are cutting back on arts programs, a Denton elementary music teacher has been named teacher of the year.
"The most exciting part was to share it with fellow fine arts teachers," award receipient Randy Schmidt said. "That shows how we are valued."
He said feels appreciated at a time when many schools are cutting back on programs like his.
"A lot of people are realizing that music isn't a fluff," Schmidt said. "It isn't an extra. It is an academic of its own."
He creates a special environment for his students.
"Music was my haven growing up, and it was my safe place in middle school and high school," he said. "You want a place where kids can feel the part and feel where they belong."
But Schmidt said his subject is more than rhythms and beats.
He took his passion to the writing table and composed a biography about '70s star Karen Carpenter that quickly gained national attention.
"There was a full page in the New York Times book review," Schmidt said. "You find a passion, something you enjoy, and you can write about it."