SAN DIEGO - A 20-year teaching career began in a small school with one band student being musically and educationally inspired.

Hector M. Cantu, junior high band teacher at San Diego Independent School District, loved music since he was a child, but when he took his first high school band class with Mr. Cortez at Premont ISD his love for music and education began.

"Music has been a big part of my life. When I was in high school, Mr. Cortez was an extraordinary band director and he got me into music. He was my mentor. I got into music because of him," Cantu said.

Cantu, a Premont grad of 1989, started his teaching career at Premont ISD, where he taught for 15 years. He began at San Diego ISD five years ago. He also teaches junior high and high school mariachi.

On Wednesday, Cantu was presented with the Amazing Teacher Award for the month of May on behalf of the Alice Echo News-Journal and Bowden Ford of Alice.

He was nominated for the award by a parent of two of his students.

"Music is a big part of my children's lives. They have talent that he sees and molds. He knows every student and their strengths. He also makes music fun," the parent, who wanted to remain anonymous, said. "My children are also in athletics, but music gives them a different avenue and outlook in life. At times, my house is filled with their music as they sit together to practice. They look forward to playing during football games, concerts and in class. Something that wouldn't be possible without Mr. Cantu."

A teacher's job is never done; a band director's job is never done. Both take countless hours and done for the love of teaching and the students.

"Something like this (award) is always special because somebody whether it's a person or a group of people nominated you. It shows that your accomplishments are being looked at. It feels really great because sometimes we don't get the notoriety of being recognized for our work," Cantu said. "Countless hours of doing what we do. It feels really, really good to get (an award)."

AENJ and Bowden Ford of Alice chose one teacher in Jim Wells and Duval Counties every month during the school year. The Amazing Teacher Award shows teachers how much students, parents and the community appreciates their dedication.