Kent Knappenberger of Westfield Academy and Central School in Westfield, N.Y., has been announced as the recipient of the first annual Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation.
A total of nine music teachers from nine cities across seven states are finalists for the award. In total, more than 30,000 initial nominations were submitted from all 50 states. The nine finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists also will receive matching grants.
"I am extremely humbled and honored to be the recipient of the first-ever Music Educator Award," said Knappenberger. "I believe that this award has already been and will continue to be a tremendous encouragement to all music educators. Besides the attention it has brought to many fine teachers, it brings attention to the importance of music education in general."
"The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation created this award to highlight the extraordinary influence of music teachers on their students in and beyond the classroom," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the GRAMMY Foundation and The Recording Academy. "Many musicians would not be expressing their gift for creativity had it not been for the dedication and encouragement of a music teacher who inspired them to pursue a professional career."
Knappenberger has been a music teacher and choir director at Westfield Academy and Central School for 25 years. He holds a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Fredonia and a master's degree in music education, harp performance and literature from Eastman School of Music, and is a member of the National Education Association. Knappenberger has taken his passion for teaching abroad by serving as a volunteer music teacher at the Ana Gonzaga Methodist Institute in Rio de Janeiro. He currently resides in Westfield with his wife and children.
The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten through college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools. Each year, one recipient will be selected from 10 finalists, and will be recognized for his/her remarkable impact on students' lives.
Knappenberger will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony & Nominees Reception on Jan. 25, attend the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards ceremony, and receive a $10,000 honorarium.
Applications for the second annual Music Educator Award are currently online at GRAMMYMusicTeacher.com. The deadline to nominate a teacher is March 31. The application process will be adjusted each year to allow the broad array of effective teaching styles and methods used in the discipline to be recognized and awarded.