WESTFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB) -Mr. Kent Knappenberger is the first ever to receive the Grammy Music Educator Award.
He beat out 30,000 other teachers for the title. We introduced you to him last week and we caught up with him Tuesday after the announcement that he’d won.
“They’ve taken an interest in what we do with kids and that’s a wonderful gift,” said Mr. Knappenberger.
For 25 years, Mr. K has been inspiring his Westfield Academy students, helping them to find their inner passion for music.
“I want to try and find a way to make a difference their lives. I try to help them find a way to be connected sometimes with their talent, but sometimes with other kids and we make music socially,” said Knappenberger.
He says especially for teens, music can help them work through their feelings.
“Even kids who aren’t actively playing an instrument I’m sure at least use what they listen to as a way to deal with life and really try to play on that for them,” said Knappenberger.
“You get to know him and he goes from being this crazy abstract guy to someone who just nourishes everything you care about in yourself,” said one student.
Mr. K’s love for music began at the age of 7 when he started playing piano. Nowadays you’d be hard pressed to find an instrument he can’t play. Which means he can teach just about anything.
For Luis Quinones who recently moved from Puerto Rico, that’s the violin.
“He’s been the best teacher in the whole wide world. He’s the first class I love and the music just gets inside my heart.”
Mr. K is humbled to be the first ever recipient.
“When I found out I cried. The people I teach and what I do is very important to me and I know the country is filled with very talented educators.”
Mr. K will receive $10,000 as part of the award. He says he’ll be putting it toward new instruments, sheet music, and a trip to New York to see Broadway for a small group of students.
There will be a reception at Westfield Academy next Friday.