For the second time in his 20-year career, Derrick Walker is up for the Grammy Music Educator Award.
"Just to be mentioned as a Grammy quarterfinalist," Walker said. "It's like a huge deal to me."
Monday morning as the Cedar Hill High School Band gathered for the first day of band camp, the students hadn't heard the big news.
"No, I did not know that," junior euphonium player Ford Blunt IV said. "He's very motivational. He tells us jokes when we need it. He scolds us when we need it."
"If he's harder on you, then he loves you, like, deeply," senior flute player Moiya Burrell said. "That's awesome! He just works so hard."
"You know, we have over 200 kids in our band program," Walker said. "But all it takes is that one kid to say, 'Mr. Walker, you know what? You made a difference in my life.'"
Walker was recently named the school's fine arts director as well. He feels he has an advantage over teachers in other subjects.
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"Music is one of those things I can take advantage of and say, 'Let's pump this up today, let's have fun,'" Walker said. "Let's not think about the worries that we have at home."
The band hall at Cedar Hill High School is lined with awards and trophies, but Walker said that's not why he teaches.
"So you know, we have something," Walker said. "The kids are really having fun, and to me, that's the most important thing."
Walker pointed out that his outgoing seniors earned $2.5 million in scholarship money.
The Grammys will announce semifinalists in September. The Grammy Music Educator Award winner will travel to the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on January 31, 2022.