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Nine additional National Association for Music Education (NAfME) members
also named as Finalists, out of more than 30,000 initial nominations

RESTON, VA. (January 21, 2014) – There’s no mistaking this as a banner week for dedicated music educators nationwide, and for members of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) – one in particular.

NAfME member Kent Knappenberger of Westfield Academy and Central School in Westfield, New York has been named as the first-ever recipient of the Music Educator Award™ by the GRAMMY Foundation® and the Recording Academy®.  In all, more than 30,000 initial nominations for the award were submitted from all 50 states. Knappenberger was one of ten finalists, all of whom have been members of NAfME and their state music education associations.

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten through college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.

NAfME has been supporting the Music Educator Award process throughout 2013 with advocacy and communications resources, and NAfME President Nancy E. Ditmer served on the award’s Blue Ribbon Selection Committee.  Ditmer said, “Kent epitomizes the passion for music and love of teaching that characterize thousands of music educators who make a difference in the lives of the children and youth of our country every day.  His genuine love for what he does, and the mutual respect and admiration between him and his students, are evident in his teaching.  On behalf of NAfME, I offer my congratulations and thanks for the fine way in which Kent represents all of the good that music educators are accomplishing every day.”

Knappenberger has been a music teacher and choir director at Westfield Academy and Central School for 25 years, and a member of NAfME for 20 years.  He holds a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Fredonia, a master’s degree in music education, harp performance and literature from Eastman School of Music, and has served as a volunteer music teacher at the Ana Gonzaga Methodist Institute in Rio de Janeiro.

“I am extremely humbled and honored to be the recipient of the first-ever Music Educator Award,” said Knappenberger. “I believe that this award has already been and will continue to be a tremendous encouragement to all music educators. Besides the attention it has brought to many fine teachers, it brings attention to the importance of music education in general.”

As winner of the Music Educator Award, Knappenberger will be flown to Los Angeles this weekend to accept the honor in a Special Merit Awards ceremony.  Afterwards, he will attend the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards® ceremony and will receive a $10,000 honorarium.  The nine finalists will each receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists will also receive matching grants.

The honorariums and grants are made possible by the support of the GRAMMY Foundation’s Education Champions Box Tops For Education®, Converse, Ford Motor Company Fund, Journeys, Microsoft Surface, and Universal Music Group.

Applications for the second annual Music Educator Award are currently online; to nominate a teacher, visit The deadline to nominate is March 31, 2014.

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National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, is the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers. The Association orchestrates success for millions of students nationwide and has supported music educators at all teaching levels for more than a century.  With more than 70,000 members, the organization is the voice of music education in the United States. Follow NAfME through social media on Twitter ( and on Facebook (

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Published Date

January 22, 2014


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