National honor

WESTFIELD – An area teacher will be walking the red carpet at the 56th annual GRAMMY Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles this weekend.

On Tuesday, Kent Knappenberger was announced on “CBS This Morning” as the winner of the first annual Music Educator Award; which is presented by The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation.

“I am extremely humbled and honored to be the recipient of the first-ever Music Educator Award,” said Knappenberger, who works with sixth- through 12th-grade students at Westfield Academy and Central School. “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.”

Knappenberger will be California-bound to attend the GRAMMY’s Lifetime Achievement Award luncheon and participate in GRAMMY week. The award presentation will be held at The Recording Academy’s Special Merit Awards Ceremony and Nominees Reception honoring recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY Award.

“When I found out, I cried,” he said in the CBS segment. “The people I teach and what I do is very important to me. … I know there is a country filled with very talented educators. As much as I learned about the other finalists, I’m just so glad to be part of something that they do.”

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.

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. He is also a member of the National Education Association.

For the past month, Knappenberger was listed as one of 10 finalists for the award, and was the only finalist from New York state. As winner of the award, Knappenberger will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, attend the 2014 GRAMMY Awards ceremony, and receive a $10,000 honorarium. The nine other finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists also will receive matching grants.

Knappenberger will be recognized by the Westfield school district during a community reception to be held Jan. 31 from 6-8 p.m. in the cafeteria.