Barry Manilow awarding Georgia high school band director $5K for music program

SAVANNAH, Ga. — For a Georgia high school band director, this one’s for you.

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Grammy Award-winning singer Barry Manilow will award Reggie Mitchell, the fine arts department chair and director of bands at Savannah High School, with The Manilow Music Teacher Award on Sunday, the Savannah Morning News reported.

Manilow, 79, who was nominated for 15 Grammy Awards and won in 1978 for “Copacabana (At the Copa),” awards a music teacher at every stop of his arena tour. The veteran singer appears Sunday night in Savannah.

According to Manilow’s website, The Manilow Music Teacher Award recognizes a deserving local music teacher who helps to bring music to life for his or her students. Mitchell will receive the award from Manilow during a meet-and-greet session at Sunday’s concert at Enmark Arena, the Morning News reported.

“It is wonderful to partner with our concert venues to identify schools and music teachers in their neighborhoods that deserve this small token of my gratitude, Manilow said in a statement. “Many school music programs have either been terminated, or their funds have been severely depleted. I always want to do my part through The Manilow Music Project to keep music in schools.”

Mitchell, whose nomination was announced by Savannah High School Principal Gequetta Jenkins during the school’s winter recital, said he was shocked to learn he was in contention.

“She was saying that with the work that you put in, the time that you put in, you are more than a worthy recipient for this prestigious award,” Mitchell told the Morning News. “I’m humbled to be nominated as one of the top educators, but even more so, winning this award is humbling. Like I told my students, this award is nothing without the hard work and dedication of my staff, as well as the kids because the kids are the ones who actually put the work in and make my job easy each and every day.”

Mitchell will receive $10,000 -- a $5,000 cash prize and a $5,000 Manilow Bucks credit that can be used to purchase instruments for his classroom, according to the newspaper.

With 91 students in his music program, Mitchell said the award and cash prize are appreciated.

“Us being an inner city school, we have kids who cannot afford instruments and things of that nature,” Mitchell told the Morning News. “By having extra instruments on hand, I will be able to put an instrument in a scholar’s hand versus turning a scholar away because I don’t have an instrument for them. This will make a big difference.”

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