PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – You might call her the original rock star of Plano West Senior High School.

Since its first graduating class in 2001, Jo Wallace-Abbie has directed what’s become a powerhouse orchestra program, expecting excellence, blended with understanding.

“She’s more than just a teacher; she’s a mother,” said Amy Gross, assistant orchestra teacher at Plano West.

“She does an incredible job nurturing our musical pursuits,” described student Shruthi Kattumenu. “But also at the same time she helps us have a little balance in our lives by understanding how hard academics are at the same time.”

The unique combination inspired senior Alex Tayoub to nominate Wallace-Abbie for the Grammys inaugural Music Educator Award.

“She’s just the perfect teacher,” explained Tayoub. “She comes in every day, ready to do what she loves to do.”

Of 30,000 nominees the Lexington, Kentucky native and 35-year teaching veteran made the Top Ten — and her school a one-thousand dollar cash prize.

“There are so many bad things said about our educational system and how we don’t measure up, and how every other country is better than we are,” explained Jo Wallace- Abbie. “I’m glad to see educators in the spotlight, because your education is the most important thing. That and your character.”

Wallace-Abbie learned last week, she didn’t win the Grammy. But it may not be a bad thing. After all, the show must go on.

“I’ve enjoyed the top 10,” Wallace-Abbie added. “Honestly, it’s been enough for me, because I’m really busy right now. We have contests, music to do.

Wallace-Abbie says she’s grateful to her parents for making sure she had music lessons and for stressing education.

“It validates everything I’ve done over the last 35 years–to say I’ve done the right thing. It makes you feel so good inside to see other people have noticed that.”

In 2011, Plano West was selected as a Grammy “Signature School,” one of seven nationwide in the “Gold” award level.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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