HE WON!!! Kent Knappenberger, my high school music teacher and friend, won the first-ever Music Educators’ Grammy Award. He is officially the best music teacher in the country.
Praise the Lord!
At a loss for words, so I’ll refer you to the ones I wrote when he was going from the quarterfinals to the semi-finals.
How did Kent Knappenberger make a measurable difference in my life? Ask my students.
I’m an actor, writer, 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.
This man is the reason I sing Green Finch and Linnet Bird to calm my baby. He’s the reason that I wrote Yellow Bike. He’s the reason I had some amazing harp played at my wedding. He and his wife have changed the small community where I grew up, and I just can’t get enough of people recognizing that.
Congratulations, Kent Knappenberger. You are a champion.