Musician Herb Alpert, back at his old high school in Los Angeles to honor a faculty member, says teachers should be lauded as American heroes.

"When we see how much money we pay to sports figures, sitcom stars and rock 'n' roll legends, it makes you wonder why teachers' salaries are at the bottom of the ladder," Alpert said at Fairfax High School on Thursday.Alpert presented a $10,000 check from the Herb Alpert Foundation to George Zograsos, a 35-year teacher selected for the award by a committee made up of students, teachers, a parent and school administrator.

It is time "we begin to place our public school teachers closer and closer to the top of the list of American heroes," Alpert said.

Alpert, once leader of the Tijuana Brass and co-founder of A&M Records, founded the non-profit foundation in 1980.