Bagdad teacher honored by Manilow Music Project

Published on February 07, 2014 with No Comments

For some teachers their career choice is a job or profession, while others it is their passion.

For Bagdad Elementary music and art teacher Heidi Graves music is her passion.

And you can tell how passionate she is about sharing her love for music from her students and how they respond to her.

On Jan. 30th, Graves was honored by Barry Manilow and the Manilow Music Project at his concert at the Pensacola Bay Center as she was the winner of a VIP concert experience from WEAR-TV Channel 3 in Pensacola.

Graves was honored by Manilow and was also honored by a standing ovation during his concert stop in Pensacola.

Graves is also the music director of the Milton City Singers, a group of middle school students from King and Hobbs middle who meet after school each week.

She was excited about Manilow’s performance, but she also had an even bigger surprise coming.

“It was great. I can’t even explain it. I was just very excited,” she said. “It was quite the presentation. Just like him to do.”

Besides introducing Graves and leading a standing ovation at his concert, Manilow also handed her a check for $10,000 made out to the Santa Rosa County School System from his philanthropic organization, The Manilow Music Project. The money is a gift to help improve the music programs of disadvantaged schools in the county.

She also was awarded a $300 gift certificate from Schmidt’s Music in Pensacola as part of her prize package from WEAR-TV.

The $10,000 check may have come as a surprise to the music teacher, but she immediately knew the impact it could have on her classes.

“I was in absolute shock,” she said. “I was thinking ‘Oh my gosh, do you know how many recorders we could buy with this? How many recorder books?’ ”

Graves, who has not seen her students in just over a month due to a medial leave, was simply astounded when she briefly returned to Bagdad Elementary and received a warm welcome from her fifth grade music students.

“When they started singing she just took over and started directing them,” said her husband John. “It was like she had missed a single day of school.”

Graves has been on medical leave after she was found to had a glioma tumor on her brain.

It was during her kindergarten music class on Jan. 6 when the teacher became disoriented and confused. Feeling like she had a headache and a stomach bug, Graves left work early that day and drove herself home.

A CT scan performed at the Santa Rosa Medical Center revealed that Graves had an unknown growth on her brain

She was immediately transferred to Baptist Hospital in Pensacola for another CT scan. Before sunrise Jan. 7, she had been flown to University of Florida’s Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

On Jan. 9, surgeons removed 95 percent of the tumor from her brain. Graves said doctors are hoping to eliminate the rest of the tumor with radiation treatment. She will return to Shands in two weeks for a follow-up appointment.


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