When thieves took off with more than $30,000 worth of band instruments – and brutally damaged ones they didn’t bother to take from the school where she teaches music – Melissa Salguero, a master’s degree student at the University of Bridgeport, went online for help.
Among those who were moved by her crowdfunding and YouTube pleas: Ellen DeGeneres, who invited Salguero to attend the taping of her popular afternoon talk show. Salguero was happy to be in the audience, but when DeGeneres called Salguero up to the stage to pay a public tribute to her, Salguero was stunned.
“Advocating for my students on national TV was a once-in-a-lifetime event,” she said. “I couldn’t stop crying.”
The Ellen DeGeneres Show will be aired on Wednesday, September 10.
Salguero won’t reveal what happens, but she will watch the show at the Cox Student Center at UB with her classmates from the School of Education.
She is earning a Master of Science in Secondary Education with a concentration in music.
Her professor Frank Martignetti, who directs music education at the School of Education, decided the graduate seminar should watch the show. “Melissa is an example of the best that the UB School of Education has to offer. Her ability to engage the community in support of her students is a model to all of us in the music education community,” he said. “We’re immensely proud of her.”
For the past six years, Salguero has been teaching at P.S. 48 in the South Bronx, among the poorest districts in the city. The average family income is $16,000 a year, and Salguero commutes over two hours from her home in Bridgeport to get to school by 7 a.m., to lead band practice before a full day of classes. When school lets out in the South Bronx, she commutes back to UB to take late-afternoon and evening classes and “usually makes it” on time.
“I love it,” she says. “I want to share my passion and love for music with students.”
But Salgueros’s drive was put to the test last April, when thieves broke into P.S. 48 last April and took off with saxophones, flutes, horns, an electronic keyboard, and other band instruments that were too costly for the school to immediately replace.
“I used it as a teachable moment to be flexible and be positive,” she said. “If my students saw me distraught and horrified, which I was when I walked through the doors that morning, that wouldn’t be good. So they saw me handling the situation maturely, and they’ll emulate that. The lesson was about staying positive.”
She logged onto the crowd-funding site, GoFundMe.com to raise money for new instruments. So far, donors have chipped in just over $2,600 toward her $30,000 goal.
“My students cannot believe there are people outside of their neighborhood who’ve heard of P.S. 48 and who want to help us. They can’t fathom that. It’s awesome to see. The lesson for them has been if you have a goal or a dream, don’t stop.”
Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, firstname.lastname@example.org