Remember when I posted this post? About my high school music teacher? Anyway, his name is Kent Knappenberger, and his work with the Westfield High School music program inspired my newest book, Yellow Bike.
Anyway, he recently made the quarterfinals for the first-ever Music Educators Grammy award! He asked me to write a quote to help get him to the next round, and this is what I came up with:
How did Kent Knappenberger make a measurable difference in my life? Ask my students.
I’m an actor and former student of Kent Knappenberger, and for as long as I can remember, my goal has been “to be the Mr. K of Theatre.” I thought I would follow his path: I would enter a tiny school and, through hard work and a drive for excellence, change its identity from victim to victor. I would take working-class farm kids and teach them that they are valued and they are valuable. Like many of my friends in Kent Knappenberger’s music program, they would be the first in their families to go to college, the few of their friends who don’t do drugs, the rare teenagers who embrace their differences as well as those of their classmates. And then I realized that inner-city kids need to learn the same lessons. The lessons I learned from Kent Knappenberger- that we are all unique and have valuable gifts, that lofty goals inspire hard work, that hard work breeds success and, most importantly, that WE HAVE STANDARDS- are universal. I use them in an inner-city setting every day, as I teach urban at-risk youth to embody the words of Shakespeare. If you ask my students, they will tell you: We have Standards. I learned that, and much more, from Kent Knappenberger.
So go to the youtube video! Like it! Like everything that has to do with this amazing man! Small towns and small-town folk have big impacts. Let the world know!