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Heroic Florida Drama Teacher to Get Special Tony Award

NEW YORK (AP) — The special Tony Award that honors educators this year will go to a drama teacher who picks her high school’s shows, builds the sets, hems the costumes — and nurtured many of the young people demanding change following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Melody Herzfeld, the one-woman drama department at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, will be presented with the award onstage June 10 at the Tony telecast.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Herzfeld told The Associated Press. “But I hope that this award will remind everyone of how vital and important arts education is to our kids. Drama, music, art, creative writing — that’s how you make good citizens.”

Herzfeld saved 65 lives by barricading students into a small classroom closet on Valentine’s Day when police say a former student went on a school rampage, killing 17 people.

She then later cheered as many of her pupils led the nationwide movement for gun reform, including organizing the March For Our Lives demonstration and the charity single “Shine.”

The annual honor bestowed by the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University recognizes U.S. educators from kindergarten to 12th grade who have “demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession.”

The award includes a $10,000 prize and a pair of tickets to the Tony ceremony and gala. A panel of judges comprised of the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon and other leaders from the theater industry selects the winner, based on candidates submitted by the public.

When Herzfeld was being considered for this year’s honor — the fourth — one Tony administration committee member commented: “Never has the drama department looked so cool.”

Original story published by the Associated Press. Read more here.

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