Waconia High School marching band director up for Grammy Music Educator Award

As the Waconia High School band director, John Pohland marches to the beat of his own drum, but now he is in the running for one of the music industry's highest awards.

"For me, it was an honor to be nominated by my students,” said Pohland. “They are the ones I work with everyday so to be nominated by them, I just thought, 'Wow.'"

After teaching band at Waconia High School for the last 12 years, Pohland doesn't like to toot his own horn. In March, he learned one of his students nominated him for the Music Educator Award for the 2020 Grammys. The award goes to teachers who have made a significant contribution to the field of music education and are committed to keeping the subject in schools. 

"I'm using music as my avenue to teach people to become better people - that's something that's been ingrained in me since high school and I'm sure before that," said Pohland.

Out of 3,300 nominees, Pohland is one of 189 quarterfinalists who made the first cut. The district had to make a video that shows him teaching and includes testimonials from parents, administrators and most of all, students talking about why he deserves the award.

"He makes it really individualized, but he doens't ever call you out,” said Payton Baumann, who nominated Pohland for the award. “Everyone knows what they have to do, knows they have to do their job. But he doesn't make you feel bad if you mess up on a rep or not."

Regardless of whether he takes home a trophy, Pohland hopes to continue to inspire his students to dream big.

"The coolest part of this is thinking, ‘Hey I could be on the red carpet,’ in February or whenever that is," said Pohland.

He will find out if he is among the top 15 finalists in September. The winner gets to attend the Grammy Awards.