Mullenix, a 1988 Northview High School graduate, recently received an award from the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation (MHOF).
The foundation was created in 1995 after the release of the motion picture Mr. Holland's Opus.
Mullenix was honored because of her "exceptional talent to instill the love of music in her students." She was introduced by William H. Macy and presented with an award as well as a check for $10,000 written by CEO of Guitar Center Marty Albertson, which is for her personal use.
"I screamed when I received the phone call," she said. "I was very surprised and I will be honest and tell you that I didn't believe it was true until I was on the stage."
The honor is only bestowed upon teachers who have received instruments from MHOF, and the interview process is completed as part of the follow-up to the grants.
"I received a phone call from a representative of the foundation and he said that he wanted to speak to all of the teachers, the principal and a few of my students as well as observe me in class," she said. "I was a little surprised because this type of an update was out of character for any grant. It wasn't until I received the phone call about the award that I realized it was an interview process."
Mullenix graduated from Ball State University with a degree in Music and received her master's degree in Music Technology from Indiana University at the Indianapolis campus. Though she has always wanted to be a teacher, it took someone else pushing her out of her shell, to enable her to accomplish her dreams.
"I remember my senior year talking with (Northview Band Director Bob Medworth) about auditioning for Drum Major but I was so shy and afraid to actually go into his office and do it," she said. "At the end of auditions, he came out of his office and made me go in to his office and play for him. I got drum major."
Now as a teacher, she looks back on what her teachers were trying to bring out in her and she uses the same techniques on her students.
"That one act had a ripple effect and changed that avenue of my life," she said. "As a teacher, I try to pull out my student's strengths and bring them to the forefront as well as foster their weaknesses."
She has been teaching for more than 15 years and has found herself in urban Chicago teaching at the National Teacher's Academy (NTA). The instruments used in her class include drums, improvisation, body percussion, composition and movement to teach her students skills and confidence they use both in and out of the classroom. Mullenix believes in the importance of developing music skills in children.
"Students have a tendency to give up if they can not do it right the first time, and I spend a lot of time working on the skills for them to achieve," she said. "I constantly tell them that if they were to get it right the first time then I wouldn't be doing my job."
Though the foundation awarded Mullenix, is adamant in extending the honor to everyone else that has touched her life.
"This award caused me to really reflect and I can't thank the other teachers in all of the other classrooms that have touched my life and for all the hours of guidance and conversation," she said. "I would especially like to thank (National Teacher's Academy Principal) Amy Real because she has been instrumental in the success in growth and progress of the school and grant co-writer Laura Stack for all of her hard work."
The award and the recognition for her school humbled Mullenix but she feels rewarded everyday when she walks into her classroom and teaches her students.
"It is so wonderful to watch my students everyday and seeing how they process and understand what I am saying," she said. "It is really quite beautiful to see the impact that you have on children."