“That grace is unmerited favor. It's something you don't deserve. I get emotional because all of this for me is not something I deserve, but it's a blessing that's come, so, sorry, wow,” says Vutsina as he wipes away tears.
Inside Steve Vutsina's orchestra room, the miracle of music shines through every note.
It's that passion that's put Mr. V on a path to win music's highest honor as educator of the year.
“I see in my students' eyes endless possibilities and dreams and desires and passion,” says Vutsina.
“This all kind of brings up all kinds of emotions in me, to know your life makes a difference, to know the words that you speak and the attitude of your heart is affecting kids’ lives for their future. The kind of dads they're going to be, the kind of moms they're going to be, the kind of CEOs are affected in this classroom, says Vutsina.
His classroom is a crossroads of his past.
“My mom and dad decided I was going to be a musician so I chose the violin because it just seemed so cool,” says Vutsina.
He has been teaching more than two decades.
In between the waves of his conductor baton, thousands of students' lives changed.
In fact, it was a former student and someone he mentored who submitted him for the Grammy.
And as part of the submission videos, one student explained how Vutsina used music to mend broken hearts.
He spread that gift all over the world taking students on mission trips using the power of music to weave worlds together.
For years, he humbled himself in front of the school board begging them to keep music programs funded.
The fruits of that labor were made sweet when his kids took home a top prize.
“Would I like to have more money? Absolutely. But I get paid in that look, the eyes of a child. I am so rich. It’s a wealthy thing, says Vutsina.
His riches ring out in his orchestra room and fall on ears eager to hear hope in between the notes.
According to the Grammy website, the winner will receive a $10,000 dollar honorarium and be flown to Los Angeles for the Grammy Awards ceremony next month. The other finalist will each receive $1,000. Their schools will get matching grants.
Watch NewsChannel 3 on January 26th, 2013 at 8PM for the 56th annual Grammy Awards.