CHICAGO (CBS) — Nicholas Senn High School music teacher Trevor Nicholas has been named a finalist for the 2022 Music Educator GRAMMY Award, the Chicago Public Schools announced Friday.

Nicholas is one of 10 music teachers selected by the Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Museum from more than 1,100 nominations nationwide. The award recognizes teachers who have made a major and lasting contribution to music education and demonstrate a commitment to the discipline.

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“Music is an amazing tool to help young people build confidence, develop leadership skills, and uncover talents they may never have known they had,” CPS Chief Executive Officer Pedro Martinez said in a news release. “I am grateful to Mr. Nicholas for providing so many of our students with a rich music education experience and am thrilled that he is receiving this well-deserved recognition.”

“We are so fortunate to have Mr. Nicholas on our faculty as he has had a tremendous impact on our arts program. His commitment to working with Senn students and cultivating their voices is remarkable,” Senn Assistant Principal Janelle Miller said in the release “He’s such a great asset to the Senn arts community.”

Nicholas has directed the vocal ensemble and served as a music theory instructor for the Senn Magnet Arts Program. He has led student ensembles to premiere works with some of Chicago’s top venues – including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Millennium Park, the Harris Theater, and Wrigley Field, CPS said.

Nicholas has also partnered with arts organizations to bring more than $300,000 in grants, donations, and free music lessons for his CPS students, CPS said.

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He has also recommended the award of more than $10 million in grants to creative classrooms in the city through his participation in the review committee of grant-making organization the Creative Schools Fund.

“I found so much healing and peace at the piano, expressing myself through music,” Nicholas said in the release. “As a music teacher, it’s something I try to bring to my students, the healing power of music.” Nicholas said one of his greatest joys is to see his students realize that their artistry can change and uplift the world around them. He adds that art can play a unique role in healing traumas and one of his goals as a teacher is, “to help students understand that who they are right now is enough, and they can be a part of the healing path of their community.”

Nicholas was previously honored as a Teacher of Excellence at a CPS Board of Education meeting a year ago. He presented the board with a virtual project called “Who Will Carry Me?” that he created with his students during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order.

Nicholas is a native of the Northwoods of Minnesota, and he dealt with several tragic deaths in his life – and also suffered from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis growing up, CPS said. His condition forced him to spend most of fifth grade in a wheelchair, and he spent hours on the piano improvising as he was unable to join his friends on the playground, CPS said.

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Nicholas received a bachelor’s of music education from North Park University, and a Master of Arts in music education with a concentration in choral conducting from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff