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In its inaugural year, The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation will present the Music Educator Award to Kent Knappenberger, a music teacher form Chautauqua County, N.Y. Knappenberger, who works at Westfield Academy and Central School, was one of 25 finalists selected from more than 30,000 nominated educators.

A former student of his, Laura Lee Anderson, posted this statement that she made in support of “Mr. K” on her blog, lauraleeanderson.wordpress.com:

How did Kent Knappenberger make a measurable difference in my life? Ask my students.

I’m an actor and former student of Kent Knappenberger, and for as long as I can remember, my goal has been “to be the Mr. K of Theatre.” I thought I would follow his path: I would enter a tiny school and, through hard work and a drive for excellence, change its identity from victim to victor. I would take working-class farm kids and teach them that they are valued and they are valuable. Like many of my friends in Kent Knappenberger’s music program, they would be the first in their families to go to college, the few of their friends who don’t do drugs, the rare teenagers who embrace their differences as well as those of their classmates. And then I realized that inner-city kids need to learn the same lessons. The lessons I learned from Kent Knappenberger- that we are all unique and have valuable gifts, that lofty goals inspire hard work, that hard work breeds success and, most importantly, that WE HAVE STANDARDS- are universal. I use them in an inner-city setting every day, as I teach urban at-risk youth to embody the words of Shakespeare. If you ask my students, they will tell you: We have Standards. I learned that, and much more, from Kent Knappenberger.

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. A formal acknowledgment of all recipients will be made during the 56th Annual Grammy Awards telecast, which will be held at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 and broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network.



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