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Tony Awards Announces 2018 Recipient of Excellence in Theatre Education Award

Melody Herzfeld of Parkland, Florida, is director of the drama department at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, site of a recent school shooting.

Parkland, Florida, teacher Melody Herzfeld will be presented with the 2018 Excellence in Theatre Education Award at this year's Tony Awards.
(© Ian Witlen)

The Tony Awards, along with higher education partner and award presenter Carnegie Mellon University, has announced that it will present Melody Herzfeld of Parkland, Florida, with the 2018 Excellence in Theatre Education Award. Herzfeld will receive the award at the 72nd Annual Tony Awards on June 10 at Radio City Music Hall.

Herzfeld is the director of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Drama Department, where she has been teaching drama since 2003 and has produced over 50 productions. She and her theater program have received many honors over the years, including the Thespis Award 2018 EdTA, from the Education Theatre Association.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was the site of one of the deadliest school shootings on February 14, in which 17 people — 14 students and three staff members — died. During the incident, Herzfeld and 65 of her students hid in her office for two hours until authorities led them to safety. Since then, many of Herzfeld's students have either expressed the way the experience affected them through theater and music, or made direct calls-to-action for gun control legislation in public.

"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 recognizes a K-12 theater educator in the US who has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession. A panel of judges comprising the American Theatre Wing, the Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon University, and other leaders from the theater industry selected Herzfeld from finalists across the nation.

Herzfeld will receive $10,000 for her theater program and tickets to the Tony Awards and gala.