Take Five with Anne Gray: Music Teacher at Franklin Fine Arts Center
01 December 2023
Ms. Gray describes Franklin Fine Arts Center as "a magical place."
Take Five is a series that highlights some of the many members of the CPS community who are going above and beyond for our schools. If you know someone who is making a difference, nominate them to be featured here.
This week, we’re excited to feature Ms. Anne Gray, who has been the music teacher at Franklin Fine Arts Center for nearly 20 years, and who was recently featured by the TODAY Show on NBC. In this fun segment, Ms. Gray and Franklin students were surprised with a message from Adam Sandler, a movie watch party in the auditorium, and a $5,000 donation to the school. Ms. Gray is planning on using these funds to purchase new amps and guitars for her classroom, as well as upgrade her students’ choir uniforms!
Ms. Gray originally came to CPS as a student teacher, where she split her time between Franklin and Curie High School. She was then hired at Stockton Elementary (now Courtenay Language Arts Center), where she worked with her school administration to build a music program from the ground up. She also met her husband, another CPS teacher, during that time.
Three years later, when the position at Franklin opened up, Ms. Gray jumped at the chance to work at a fine arts school.
“Franklin is a magical place,” she said. “The arts are treated with the same weight and importance as every other academic subject here. Every kid has their happy place, whether it’s math or dance or music, and here every student is able to explore those passions.”
Right now, Ms. Gray and her fellow fine arts teachers are busy getting their students ready for Franklin’s annual Winter Showcase, which will feature student artwork, along with performances in piano, dance, choir, monologue, and even puppetry!
Why did you want to become a music teacher?
I knew I wanted to become a teacher since eighth grade, and one day I was in band practice (I played the clarinet and saxophone) and it hit me that I could teach music. I went to a very rural K–12 school in Michigan, and while we had a great band program, we couldn’t afford a choir program. I loved singing and had longed to be in choir, so I switched from instrumental to vocal music in college. Music was my happy place, and I wanted to give the next generation of students everything I’d dreamed of as a kid.
What do you like most about your work?
I love the variety. All in the same week, I get to teach xylophone with the second grade, baritone ukulele with the fourth grade, and both modern band and choir with middle school!
How did it feel to have your school’s music program featured on The TODAY Show?
I was so honored to be recognized like that, especially as a music teacher. Sometimes arts education is under-valued, even though it can have such a profound impact on students’ lives. And it was so great to see the kids acknowledged, because it’s them. Everything is for them!
Who are your favorite artists?
Ella Fitzgerald is my favorite singer, and I also really like Aerosmith. Motown is probably my favorite type of music — it’s just so happy.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I have four very artistic children (who are also CPS students), so I do a lot of driving to dance lessons and other arts activities. I also love big, sweeping fantasy novels.
23 February 2024
Take Five with Chrishan David, English and AP African American Studies Teacher at Gwendolyn Brooks High School
Two years ago, Ms. David became one of 60 educators to teach the AP African American Studies Pilot 1 program, offering students a rich introduction to African American history and culture.