Grammy foundation awards prize for top music teacher

Of the thousands of deserving music teachers who were nominated for the new award, one winner emerged. CBS News’ Terrell Brown announced on “CBS This Morning” that Kent Knappenberger of upstate New York is the 2014 inaugural Music Educator Award recipient.

If you spend just a day watching Knappenberger teach music, it’s easy to see why the Recording Academy and Grammy Foundation think he's so exceptional. He's been teaching for 25 years at Westfield Academy, in Westfield, N.Y.

 He teaches 6th through 12th grade and the students call him "Mr. K."

"I think it's my job to try to approach children in a way that I can try to find something musical in them and sometimes in the kid you think shouldn't have some musical gifting,” said Knappenberger. “If you start looking - wow it's there and amazing things happen."

Knappenberger’s current and former students agree -- he's no ordinary teacher.

Luis Quinones moved here from Puerto Rico this summer and it was his lifelong dream to play the violin, but he never had the opportunity until he met Knappenberger.

"When I came here the first time, I was dreaming about how I was going to play the violin,” said Luis.

"So he asked me if he could play the violin and we don't own a violin here at school but I had one I bought at an auction for $75,” said Knappenberger. “So I thought, 'Well, I'll bring that in.'"

Luis told Brown that Knappenberger has made his dreams “come true.”

"He has been the best teacher in the whole wide world for me,” said Luis. “It's the first class I love and the music just gets inside my heart. “

There's more to this teacher than music. He also runs a farm.

"I think I went through a midlife crisis a couple of years ago and said 'I need to have a cow,'” said Knappenberger.  

His dedication to children is reflected in his own family. He and his wife Nannette have nine kids, eight of them adopted from Brazil.

"We have three girls who are still home and they're very involved in all this crazy music stuff," said Knappenberger.

The family is now on their way to Los Angeles, to proudly watch as Knappenberger accepts his award.

He told Brown that when he found out we won the first-ever Grammy Music Educator Award, he cried.

“The people I teach and what I do is very important to me and I know there is a country filled with very talented educators,” said Knappenberger. “And as much as I've learned about the other finalists, I just am so glad to be part of something that they do."

The deadline to nominate next year's music educator is March 31, 2014, and the Grammy Awards will be broadcast Sunday night, at 8:00p.m ET on CBS.

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