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.

More
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

For most of us, the hypothetical question of whether we would stick with a boyfriend or girlfriend through the trials of cancer and the treatments is just that – a hypothetical question. We would like to think we would do the right thing, but when Max Allegretti got the chance to put his money where mouth is, he didn't hesitate for a second.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular