Tonys 2018: Parkland Drama Teacher to Be Honored

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The Tony Awards

Melody Herzfeld — of Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — is being recognized for demonstrating resilience through art in the wake of February's mass shooting.

The Tony Awards announced Thursday that Melody Herzfeld of Parkland, Fla., has been named the fourth recipient of the excellence in theatre education award. Herzfeld, the drama teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — where 17 people died in a mass shooting on Feb. 14 — will receive the honor at the award show's 72nd annual ceremony on June 10 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

As the tragedy occurred, Herzfeld and 65 of her students hid in her office for two hours until authorities led them to safety. Just one week later, under Herzfeld's guidance, her students performed an original song titled "Shine" at a CNN town hall in an effort to inspire change through music. The song was penned by students Sawyer Garrity and Andrea Pena and was dedicated to the victims of the shooting and their families.

Later, several of Herzfeld's students led the Never Again MSD movement, which sparked nationwide protests and advocacy for effective firearms regulation and gun violence protection.

"During a normal given time I would say that I am truly humbled and grateful for this recognition for the work I have done; however, the way that my students have taken to action through speech, performance and passionate honesty it now means so much more," said Herzfeld in a statement. "My work is being reflected through my students as it is every day with every arts teacher around the world."

The excellence in theatre education award is presented with higher education partner Carnegie Mellon University and goes to a K-12 theater educator in recognition of their impact on the lives of their students. A $10,000 grant is also awarded to the theater program of the recipient teacher's school. 

"Melody is a true inspiration to her students and to all of us in the theater community and beyond," Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin and American Theatre Wing president Heather Hitchens said in a joint statement. "Theater is transformative — it has the power to celebrate the best of times, and it has the power to help heal us and comfort us in the worst of times."

The 2018 Tony Awards will air June 10 on CBS at 8 p.m.

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