CMA Awards 2022: Blue Island Teacher Justin Antos to Receive CMA Foundation Music Teacher Excellence Award

BLUE ISLAND, Ill. (WLS) — A high school teacher makes Chicago Proud by shaping young minds to the sound of music.

In fact, he’s one of 30 teachers, across the country, who will receive the CMA Foundation’s Excellence in Music Teacher Award Wednesday night in Nashville, Tennessee.

Music in all its forms can move us. Even the imperfect chords of a high school band can ignite feelings. A Chicago-area teacher believes the feelings evoked by music should be accessible to everyone.

“There’s something about music, it really teaches us how to be human,” said Justin Antos, Ph.D. “And I think if there’s something we need a little more about the world is a little more human.”

Antos teaches the band at Dwight D. Eisenhower High School in Blue Island and says he’s loved music since he was a kid.

“I was very lucky to have wonderful music teachers growing up,” Antos said.

Now he dedicates his career to ensuring his students have access to the same music that shaped him.

“Being in a low-income school district, especially here at Eisenhower High School, we have about 85 percent of our students who get a free, discounted lunch,” Antos said.

According to, approximately 82.5% of Dwight D. Eisenhower High School students are members of low-income families.

“Quite honestly, for some in our community, I mean either you rent an instrument or you pay the electric bill and no child, no family, in my opinion, should worry about that,” said said Antos.

Antos says his students rarely get to see people who look like them on stage and he’s on a mission to change that.

“And I think it’s a travesty, because kids are so gifted, they’re so talented, and they have something to contribute to society and to music education,” Antos said.

And his hard work is recognized. Antos is one of 30 teachers from across the United States to receive a Music Teacher Achievement Award from the CMA Foundation.

“Not many of us went into music education thinking it was going to happen,” Antos said. “We don’t think we’ll be on ABC7, we don’t think we’ll be on CMAs.”

The award proves its impact is being felt across the country – and closer to home.

“He’s probably one of the most understanding teachers I’ve had,” junior Olivia Sobolewski said.

“Children mean everything to me,” Antos said. “I have two beautiful sons at home, but I have 100 other children here at Eisenhower.”

Antos will receive his prize Wednesday night in Nashville with $5,000 in prize money. Antos said he plans to donate every penny to the program to help ensure his students have access to the tools they need to thrive in music.

You can watch the 56th annual CMA Awards starting at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 on ABC7.

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