A suburban Chicago student-teacher’s passion for music and his classroom has garnered internet acclaim and offers of school supplies after a rap video he made was posted to social media.
Dwayne Reed, 25, a first-year student teacher at Jane Stenson Elementary School in Skokie, posted a rap video titled “Welcome to The Fourth Grade” on YouTube over the weekend. He said he chose a more creative and engaging way to introduce himself than a boring old newsletter so many students have grown accustomed to.
“I wanted a cool way to introduce myself to the students and the parents I was gonna have,” Reed said.
Reed, originally from the East Garfield Park neighborhood but now living in Skokie, said the idea came to him when a filmmaker friend, Ty Gotham, said he wanted to make a music video.
“I think I’m somewhat gifted at music,” Reed said. “It’s simply a way for me to try to connect with my students.”
Sue O’Neil, principal at Jane Stenson, says she’s happy to be working with Reed.
“I think he’s gonna bring a lot of creativity and I just think the kids are gonna relate to him really well,” she said.
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Reed said the video was shot Saturday, edited just after midnight Sunday morning and posted to YouTube.
Users on the social media site Reddit were quick to share the video, encouraging Reed with praise and offering to donate school supplies to his class.
“That would be so amazing,” he said. “I would love for them to donate supplies to my kids. A lot of the students here are low income."
Reed says basic supplies like notepads, pens and folders, to winter clothes and shoes would all be helpful donations.
He plans to use his passion for music to help kids come up with their own songs to help them study.
“Regardless of how cheesy it is, if it helps them remember something, if it helps them excel on the test, or in life, I’m fine with it, I’m backing it,” he said. “You can’t disconnect music from true life, so if we want our students to live excellent lives, we gotta have music involved in that.”
Reed said his enthusiasm and positivity are heavily tied to his faith and he doesn’t agree with some of the more negative comments that plague posts like his on social media—specifically those that say he will lose his enthusiasm as time goes on.
“My joy, my enthusiasm, my passion isn’t necessarily tied or weighed down by teaching,” he said. “I have that joy, that enthusiasm for every aspect in my life.”