Melody Herzfeld, director of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Drama Department, will receive a Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education Award.
Herzfeld has been working at Stoneman Douglas since 2003 and has produced 60 productions there, but was most recently recognized after students from her drama program, including Cameron Kasky, began speaking out against gun laws in the wake of the Feb. 14 school shooting that left 17 dead. During the school shooting, Herzfeld and 65 of her students hid in her office for two hours until authorities led them out.
One week after the shooting, Herzfeld directed her students in singing an original song entitled “Shine” at the CNN Town Hall.
“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. “My work is being reflected through my students, as it is every day with every arts teacher around the world.”
Herzfeld will receive $10,000 for her program at Stoneman Douglas and tickets to the Tony Awards and Gala.
In its fourth year, the Excellence in Theatre Education Award honors a theater educator “who has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession.”
Herzfeld was chosen by a panel of judges from the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon University and other leaders from the theatre industry selected Herzfeld from finalists across the nation.
“Melody is a true inspiration to her students and to all of us in the theatre community and beyond. 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,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, president of the American Theatre Wing, said in the press release.
Correction: A previous version of this article named activist Emma Gonzalez as part of the Stoneman Douglas drama program. She is not.