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Parkland Drama Teacher Gets a Big Honor

Melody Herzfeld will receive award at Tonys
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2018 5:53 PM CDT
This Feb. 19, 2018, file photo shows a makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting in Parkland, Fla.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

(Newser) – During the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama teacher Melody Herzfeld hid from the shooter with 65 of her students. Next month, she'll be honored at the Tony Awards. Herzfeld will receive the Excellence in Theatre Education award at the New York cermony on June 10, Deadline reports. She was selected from among a group of finalists by a panel of judges including many leaders from the theatre industry, and will receive a $10,000 grant for her program. Two of Herzfeld's students wrote a song called "Shine" after the shooting; she led her students in a performance of it at a town hall a week after the shooting, and it is being sold online to raise money to provide arts-based mental health programs in Parkland.

"Melody is a true inspiration to her students and to all of us in the theatre community and beyond," say the presidents of the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing in a joint statement obtained by Playbill. "Theatre 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." Says Herzfeld, "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. My work is being reflected through my students, as it is every day with every arts teacher around the world." (Read more Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School stories.)

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