Kent Knappenberger Recognized In Prime Time

WESTFIELD – It was Westfield’s and Chautauqua County’s time to shine as Westfield Academy and Central School music teacher Kent Knappenberger was recognized during the nationally televised 56th Grammy Awards Ceremony Sunday evening in primetime.

Radio personality and producer Ryan Seacrest, singer-songwriter John Legend and Recording Academy President and Chief Executive Officer Neil Portnow took a couple minutes during the ceremony to recognize Knappenberger, who received the first-ever Music Educator Award during the Grammy’s Special Merit Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles on Saturday.

“In addition (to teaching sixth- through 12th-grade general music), Kent oversees a sixth-grade choir, a seventh- and eighth-grade boys’ chorus, a high school mixed chorus, a select chamber chorus, a men’s choir, a women’s choir, four handbell ensembles, four steel pan ensembles and a celtic American string band,” Portnow told the audience. “It’s so impressive.”

Knappenberger, who stood up and bowed when recognized, received a standing ovation from the large audience.

Legend praised the Westfield teacher as being “extraordinary and inspiring.”

Seacrest said over 32,000 nominations were received for the Music Educator Award, including teachers from kindergarten through college.

“We’re so pleased with the spotlight this award places on the thousands of music educators working to provide the inspiration, the passion and the skills our young musicians need, that we’re going to do it all over again,” he announced, adding the deadline to nominate teachers for next year’s award is March 31.

Knappenberger was nominated for the award nearly a year ago by two former students and the parent of a current student.

The award comes with a $10,000 honorarium, which the Westfield teacher said he would use to buy instruments, sheet music, equipment and musical “experiences” for students that would have otherwise been out of reach. The school will also receive a matching grant.

The Westfield school district will recognize Knappenberger during a community reception on Friday from 6-8 p.m. in the cafeteria.