WHITELAND, Ind - When you think of the Grammy Awards, you might think of big-name musicians like Drake, Beyonce and Adele. However, this year, one of the golden statues could go to a local high school teacher.
Whiteland’s band director, Pete Sampson is one of 25 teachers in the country to be nominated for the Grammy Music Educator Award.
Words may not be the best way to explain why Mr. Pete Sampson is worthy of a Grammy. Most of the time, he’s not even speaking them.
“Doo bee do, do bee-bop," sang Sampson as he directed Whiteland's Jazz band Friday.
Sampson’s students speak his language fluently.
“He’s helped not just me, but everyone in this band just have a love and passion for music,” said student Ethan Price.
In his time at Whiteland, Sampson has grown the band and music program. Students said he encourages them non-stop.
“I don’t think he ever sleeps," said student Faith Young. "His mind is always on Jazz or what to do next with concert band. He’s always thinking about us.”
When Sampson does sleep, he said he dreams about going to the Grammy Awards.
“Remember, the Grammy's is not just pop music and rock and roll," said Sampson. "I’m a big Jazz fan and Jazz is a big passion of mine and there are going to be some of the best Jazz artists in the world in the audience as well. So, just to even be in the same room would be tremendous.”
He’s closer than most to that dream. He’s one of 25 nominated for the 2020 Grammy Music Educator Award. He got 500 dollars for himself, and 500 for the school music program just for being a semifinalist.
“It will go to our band boost program that helps sponsor our events and so it’s nice to be able to help them out as well and we always are in need of something,” said Sampson.
Students said they’re grateful for the money but they appreciate Mr. Sampson more.
“He really brings a sense of family to this whole band,” said student Mikey Starneri.
“He absolutely deserves it," added Young. "He has a vast amount of knowledge and you see him use it.”
They’re rooting for him but even if he stays a semi-finalist, Price said he is still a winner in all of their hearts.
Sampson will find out next month whether he has made the top ten. If he wins, organizers will fly him to the Grammy’s to receive his award.