Each year, at the Tonys, one K-12 theater teacher is honored for their work. This year’s recipient was Melody Herzfeld of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
On Feb. 14 — that fateful day in Parkland, Florida — Herzfeld helped save the lives of 65 students by sheltering in place and guiding them to safety. That alone more than meets the Excellence in Theatre Education Award criteria of being a teacher “who has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession.”
In her acceptance speech, Herzfeld illustrated the importance of arts education, explaining how the lessons her students learned in her class prepared them, unknowingly, for the horrific events of that day.
The most important lesson her students learned was to be good to each other. The bonds of family and friends play powerful roles in how we cope.
“I remember on February 7th, in a circle with my students, encouraging them to be good to each other when times were trying, and to keep the family together, [to] accept everyone and make a difference,” she said. “And I remember only a week later, on February 14th, a perfect day, where all these lessons in my life and in their short lives would be called upon to set into action.”
President Farnam Jahanian, Carnegie Mellon College of Fine Arts Dean Dan Martin and @cmudrama Head Peter Cooke with the 2018 Excellence in Theatre Education Award winner, Melody Herzfeld after she was honored on @TheTonyAwards stage tonight. #cmutonys #applaudmyteacher pic.twitter.com/9HBdDrew0I
— Carnegie Mellon (@CarnegieMellon) June 11, 2018
Watch Herzfeld’s moving speech below, and think about a teacher who helped change your life for the better.