It’s hard to believe that Melissa Salguero was walking from school to school with resumes in her hand just eight years ago.
After winning the Music Educator Award at the 2018 Grammy Awards, she’s now the loudly ‘sung’ hero of the elementary school, P.S. 48, in Hunts Point.
In seven years, she transformed a music program.
“Before we had instruments I knew I had to build trust with the kids,” said Melissa.
“It started with me playing Don’t Stop Believing on my guitar during the first day and then the kids just took over,” she added.
Melissa’s innovative approach to music knows no bounds.
From turning carrots into wind instruments (her personal favorite approach), to configuring things like Xbox controllers and bananas into electronic keyboards, Melissa allows creativity to shine through her teaching methods.
Her teaching styles have changed the way P.S. 48 looks at performance.
The school’s band eagerly comes in an hour before school starts to practice.
Being a self-confessed ‘science geek,’ Melissa shows her students the electronic production and engineering side of music as well.
“We’ve gone way beyond Mary Had a Little Lamb,” said Melissa.
Her classes enjoy the amount of input they’re given in Melissa’s teaching.
“I’m just the tour guide on this bus, the kids pick what they want to learn and play,” said Melissa.
“We recently sang ‘Imagine’ and ‘Blackbird’ by the Beatles to teach music history and concepts.”
Hailing from Boca Raton, FL, and being a proud drum major in the University of South Florida’s marching band, Melissa was drawn to New York because of its musical culture.
When she first arrived in New York things were challenging, though. “It was very stressful, I had no job for months” said Melissa.
Through the program ‘Education Through Music,’ she was placed at P.S. 48.
After Melissa established trust with her students and pieced together funding for instruments and much more, she transformed the culture of the school.
“At first the kids are shy or nervous to work with an instrument or their voices. By fifth grade they just can’t stop singing,” Said Melissa.
“I feel like a cheerleader encouraging them and telling them ‘yes you can,’ it gets better everyday,” she added.
Her night spent at the Grammy Awards in Madison Square Garden is one she won’t soon be forgetting.
“I was not shy on the red carpet at all. I met my musical idol Lisa Loeb, never in my life did I think this would all happen,” said Melissa.
She also spoke with Hailee Steinfeld, Ice T and Anna Kendrick.
However, it was meeting astronomer, Neil deGrasse Tyson, that was a real thrill
Melissa wasn’t given any warning that she would be put on camera during the awards, but then James Corden came over to her and offered his congratulations.
She’s not shy to the national spotlight, however. In 2014 Melissa was a guest on ‘Ellen’ after P.S. 48 suffered a burglary that wiped all of her program’s instruments.
The show’s host, Ellen Degeneres, donated $50,000 to P.S. 48 as well as new insturments to get the program going again.
The Music Educator Award comes with a $10,000 prize as well as a matching grant for P.S. 48.