After mass shooting, a drama teacher shows why the arts matter

The intersection of arts, culture, and mass murder is nearly impossible to comprehend, but we’re getting there, sadly.

At last night’s Tony Awards, the drama kids at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida went to Broadway to watch a bunch of Broadway stars watch them.

The Tony Awards gave its annual theater educator award to Melody Herzfeld, the drama teacher at the high school, who barricaded 65 kids in her classroom the day 17 people were slaughtered at the school.

“Obviously, what happened, that’s part of it, who those individuals are, that’s another part of it, the kind of resilience that those individuals have, absolutely,” she told NPR last week.

It was just the latest testimonial about why the arts belong in public schools.

  • MrE85

    Heard an interview with Ms.Herzfeld earlier. Many of the current and former Parkland student who have emerged as activists and organizers since the shooting were “her kids.”

    Best Tony award, ever.

  • Al

    I returned to campus for my 15-year undergrad reunion this past weekend, and sang with my conductor for the first time in many years. I was reminded not only of how it feels to make music with people I love (and I don’t need to bring up the myriad of research on the benefits of choral singing), but also of the deep and abiding love I have for my conductor and his wife. They served as second parents to many of us while we figured out how to be the people we wanted to be, and coached us through any number of challenges we faced, musical or otherwise.

    My 6yo adores her elementary school music teacher, and it fills my heart to imagine the future she has making music with friends and colleagues, guided by professionals who care for her as a musician and a growing human being.

  • chlost

    As the parent of several theater students (one of which is now a high school teacher/drama coach), this performance brought tears to my eyes. The arts have been the one activity in which kids who otherwise may not be accepted have found their creative heart and talents. The adults who shepherd these kids through their teenage years into adulthood should all receive awards. Hooray to Broadway for recognizing this.