Parkland Drama Teacher Honored With Tony Award, Months After Massacre
Melody Herzfeld was nominated by one of her former students, who is now a drama teacher herself.
Just four months ago, Melody Herzfeld seemed an unlikely candidate for a Tony Award, but the drama teacher from Parkland, Fla., is about to accept the recognition for her tireless work with her students in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting tragedy.
"If I can say what I looked like, I was probably like ... frozen," Herzfeld told InsideEdition.com about the moment she got the call while she was in class. "As a drama teacher, you always dream, ‘One day, I’ll be a star on the stage.'"
Herzfeld, who has been teaching at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for the last 15 years, is set to receive a Tony Award for excellence in theater education at the 72nd Tony Awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall in New York City this weekend.
The award comes after she directed her students in a singing performance during a CNN town hall, just a week after a gunman went on a shooting rampage at their school.
The performance of "Shine," a song written by two of her students, spoke volumes to the solidarity of the Parkland community, and the pain in the aftermath of the massacre.
She explained the chorus was made up of many of her drama students, and she helped encourage each of them to use their creativity to take action.
"I was so proud of my students," she said. "My job is not to tell them how to be, or what to believe, or how to think. My job is only to support what their truths are and be behind them as a teacher."
In fact, it was a former student-turned-theater teacher who nominated her.
Monica Andrews, who now teaches at the Gateway High School in Kissimmee, said she has always thought about nominating Herzfeld for the honor, and decided to take action following the tragedy at her alma mater.
Andrews said they became close friends in her adulthood, and she texted Herzfeld crying when she realized she had won the award.
“When I put in the application, I hoped the Tony voters and the League would not select her solely on what happened, but I wanted them to observe the impact she has had over the last 15 years of being a theater educator,” Andrews told InsideEdition.com. “She left that mark on all of us.”
While it was a bold move in activism that allowed Herzfeld to win one of drama’s most prestigious awards, the drama teacher explained she hopes by the start of school next year, everything will "be back to the normal."
She added, "But there’s no getting back to the way we were."
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