National honors

WESTFIELD – Kent Knappenberger is one step closer to winning a national award for his contributions to inspiring a love for music in his students.

Knappenberger, who works with sixth- through 12th-grade students at Westfield Academy and Central School, has made it to the final elimination round as one of 10 finalists selected from across the nation to win the first ever Music Educator Award – presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation.

“I’m thrilled, jumping out of my skin,” Knappenberger said. “I’m very excited to be able to represent not only music education, but my school, community and – most importantly – students. My school district has been open to the innovation that distinguishes our music department, and it is sometimes a bit overwhelming to put this all together in my head. We are a small school, with limited resources, that makes kids a priority. And I’m honored to be able to have a chance to tell how successful our kids and schools can be, if we try looking at things a little differently.”

According to its website, the Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators – teaching kindergarten through college, in both 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.

The award was open to any current music teacher in the United States, and the teachers were able to be nominated by anyone, both inside and outside of the education system. Subsequently, more than 30,000 teacher nominations from all 50 states were accepted.

Because Knappenberger has been selected as a top 10 finalist, he has been guaranteed a $1,000 honorarium, as well as a matching grant for the Westfield school district. Nine finalists will receive these awards while the winner, who will be announced next month, will receive a trip to Los Angeles to receive the Music Educator Award at the 2014 Grammy Awards ceremony in January, as well as a $10,000 honorarium.

For more information on the Music Educator Award, visit www.grammyintheschools.com, and select the “Grammy Music Educator Award” link at the top of the main page.