WESTFIELD – The Grammy awards were Sunday night and Kent Knappenberger had his moment to shine during the broadcast of the award show. He was still shining – although in spirit – Monday evening at the Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education meeting.
Secondary Principal Ivana Hite announced she had been keeping in contact with Knappenberger, who was awarded the Grammy Music Educator of the Year Saturday night. Knappenberger was announced last Tuesday on television as the winner and Hite said students and staff watched the announcement live.
“We streamed the program live in the auditorium to make it viewable for our students and staff. I wish you would have been there from the roar of screams from the kids. … It was nice hearing his name,” she said.
At the time of the award announcement Knappenberger, accompanied by his wife and daughters, was on his way to Los Angeles for a pre-award show press conferences and various media. Through their contact this week, Hite said Knappenberger had an interview with Ryan Seacrest, walked the red carpet behind Paul Williams and Kris Kristofferson, visited Disneyland and had a conversation with actor, Dustin Hoffman.
“At first he didn’t know if it was real or not … how (Hoffman) got Kent’s cell phone number we do not know to this day. In the near future, Dustin Hoffman is going to play a part of a teacher. He was very moved and impressed by the clip CBS (played) that he asked for (Knappenberger’s) personal contact information so he could call him in the future because he was so impressed,” Hite said.
Hite, along with the rest of the board, are beyond proud of Knappenberger. Hite said she called her mother, who lives near New York City Sunday night to see if she saw Westfield being recognized on TV.
“I was just happy to hear Westfield Academy and Central School being mentioned nationally,” said Hite. “It’s been a fun event.”
Board member Francine Brown said she is “overwhelmed with pride” for this once-in-a-lifetime event.
“I have lived here all my life and nothing like this has ever happened. This is amazing. I’m overwhelmed with pride,” Brown said.
The district will host a community reception on Friday in the school cafeteria from 6-8 p.m. in honor of Knappenberger.