The Parkland teacher who saved 65 students won a Tony Award. Watch her powerful speech.

Each year, at the Tonys, one K-12 theater teacher is honored for their work. This year's recipient was Melody Herzfeld of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

On Feb. 14 — that fateful day in Parkland, Florida — Herzfeld helped save the lives of 65 students by sheltering in place and guiding them to safety. That alone more than meets the Excellence in Theatre Education Award criteria of being a teacher "who has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession."

In her acceptance speech, Herzfeld illustrated the importance of arts education, explaining how the lessons her students learned in her class prepared them, unknowingly, for the horrific events of that day.


The most important lesson her students learned was to be good to each other. The bonds of family and friends play powerful roles in how we cope.

"I remember on February 7th, in a circle with my students, encouraging them to be good to each other when times were trying, and to keep the family together, [to] accept everyone and make a difference," she said. "And I remember only a week later, on February 14th, a perfect day, where all these lessons in my life and in their short lives would be called upon to set into action."

GIFs from The Tony Awards/YouTube.

Herzfeld went on to list some of the other unexpected skills kids learn in acting class that go beyond just, well, acting.

"As theater teachers, we teach kids by giving them space to be critiqued yet not judged, giving them spot in the light yet not full stage, creating the circle of trust in which to fail," Herzfeld said, before adding that kids are taught, also, "to begin again" after tragedy befalls them.

Arts programs are in constant danger of being cut from school curriculums. Maybe we don't understand just how important they are.

Schools across the country have struggled under the weight of budget crunches for decades. So often, it's art, theater, and music programs that get axed for the sake of short-term financial health. When those programs are cut, however, students lose out on the important lessons teachers like Herzfeld bring into the world.

"Imagine if arts were classes that were considered core — a core class in education. Imagine," she said. "Ours is only one small part, yet it’s the most important part of a child’s education. ... We have all known that the future of the world was about collaborative creativity."

"And here we are," Herzfeld continued. "The future. Changed for good."

Watch Herzfeld's moving speech below, and think about a teacher who helped change your life for the better.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via @Todd_Spence / Twitter

Seven years ago, Bill Murray shared a powerful story about the importance of art. The revelation came during a discussion at the National Gallery in London for the release of 2014's "The Monuments Men." The film is about a troop of soldiers on a mission to recover art stolen by the Nazis.

After his first time performing on stage in Chicago, Murray was so upset with himself that he contemplated taking his own life.

"I wasn't very good, and I remember my first experience, I was so bad I just walked out — out onto the street and just started walking," he said.

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