First Lady Michelle Obama will be back in Los Angeles on July 16 as the keynote speaker for the Grammy Museum's first inaugural Jane Ortner Education Award Luncheon, which recognizes teachers who make outstanding use of music in their classroom instruction.
The award was created by the Grammy Museum in partnership with entertainment attorney Charles Ortner, in honor of his late wife, Jane Ortner, a New York elementary school teacher who understood the importance of using music education as a tool to inspire children to excel.
The luncheon with the first lady will be hosted by Grammy Museum executive director Bob Santelli at Club Nokia at L.A. Live. It will include a special performance by Janelle Monae, recipient of this year's Artist Award, and student musicians. Sunshine Cavalluzzi, a teacher at El Dorado High School in Placentia, is the recipient of this year's Jane Ortner Educator Award. Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and chairman of the Grammy Museum, also helped establish the award program.
"The goal is to recognize teachers who understand the importance of incorporating music into the classroom as a powerful educational tool," said Ortner, an entertainment powerhouse attorney who has represented Lady Gaga, Madonna, U2, Green Day, Michael Jackson, Clive Davis and Daft Punk, along with Sony Music BMG, Universal Music Group and EMI, and The Recording Academy, among others. (He also serves as one of Barack Obama's trustees to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.)
Ortner said his wife, who died of multiple myeloma in 2000, "recognized that music can help children learn basic academic subjects. But equally important, music helps children develop confidence, cooperation and communication—skills that are critical to their success."
Ortner will be joined at the luncheon by his daughter, Amy Ortner, a leading music attorney at Loeb & Loeb, and his producer/manager son, Eric Ortner, a partner in Live Nation's Vector OMG and chair of the White House entertainment advisory council.
In an invitation sent out to members of the entertainment industry this week, Grammy Museum officials said they were "deeply honored" to host the first lady at the luncheon. "Mrs. Obama has made arts education a top priority in her career, working with young people to promote education and leading the work of the president's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
They also noted that the museum has been working in partnership with Michelle Obama since 2010, when The White House and the Grammy Museum joined together in producing annual music education programs as part of the In Performance at the White House.
As part of the educational mission of the Grammy museum, the Jane Ortner Award encourages teachers around the country to submit their lesson plans to a repository made available to other educators. According to Ortner, "these resources will be particularly helpful where school systems lack the funds for training teachers and developing educational programs that incorporate music into the daily learning experience."
This article originally appeared in THR.com.