Out of nearly 2,000 initial nominees, Justin Antos, who earned both his Education Specialist (Ed.S.) and Ph.D. in Music Education from Auburn University, has advanced to be named one of ten finalists. The Music Educator Award recognizes current educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in our country’s schools.
Each year, one recipient is selected from 10 finalists and recognized for their remarkable impact on students’ lives. The winner 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.
Antos, who teaches at Dwight D. Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, IL, has been recognized not only for his impressive range of accomplishments, but also for his outstanding character. Eisenhower is a Title I school located about two miles southwest of Chicago. Roughly 85% of its students come from low-income households and are eligible for free-and-reduced lunch.
In an earlier interview, Antos spoke of his dedication to his students despite the obvious challenges they face.
“This obviously poses a threat to instrumental music classes,” Antos said. “We have a very high undocumented population, and it is not uncommon for my students to have to work full-time or part-time jobs to help their families put food on the table.”
“As a result of this, I do my best to structure my classes where I teach the whole child and ensure that my students’ health, safety, and happiness are met before any curricular instruction occurs. Despite my students’ obstacles, they are proud of their ensembles and continue to make band and orchestra a priority in their lives. I feel as though I have an obligation to them to be my best every single day.”
Since joining the Eisenhower staff in 2009, Antos took an instrumental music program of one band of just over 40 students and transformed it into three curricular bands, two curricular orchestras, and a guitar program, now serving more than 300 students. His concert bands, marching bands, jazz ensembles, and orchestras have earned numerous top finishes and Division I ratings over the past several years at various state and national festivals. Antos also conducts the school’s award-winning show choir combo, musical pit band, mariachi band, and pep band, and facilitates 15 different chamber ensembles.
In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Antos is a respected scholar who has published several articles in practitioner and academic journals and has presented at numerous music education conferences throughout the United States. He frequently performs as a freelance percussionist and studio musician in the Chicagoland area and operates his own home recording studio where he provides free demo recordings for up-and-coming artists.
For all of his accomplishments, Antos continues to cherish his Auburn experiences.
“My time at Auburn was incredibly rewarding,” he said. “Dr. Nancy Barry, Dr. Jane Kuehne, and Dr. Rick Good, among others, challenged me artistically and academically, and helped me realize my potential as a musician and scholar. The beautiful campus, esteemed faculty, electric environment, and rigorous coursework helped shape me into the educator I am today. I graduated with my Ph.D. in May of 2017 and earned the Distinguished Dissertation Award from the Graduate School that same year. I went on to publish my research, present at several music education conferences throughout the United States, and finish my National Board Teaching Certification. I could not be more proud to call myself an Auburn Tiger. War Eagle!”
Congratulations Dr. Antos!