A math teacher in Milwaukee has created an empowering rap with his students that will get anyone in the mood to learn.
Terrance Sims, a sixth-grade teacher at Milwaukee Excellence Charter School, posted a video on YouTube on Oct. 21 that shows his students celebrating the idea of learning, being respectful and motivating others. Two of Sims’ students, Aryn Fears and Savannah Patterson, are the stars of the video, which is set to the music from Tee Grizzley’s “First Day Out.”
The rap ― which is titled “Excellence First!” and includes lyrics like “education is contagious,” “if it’s knowledge, let me hear it,” and “educated, motivated, melan-ated” (a reference to melanin) ― started as a project from Sims. His class, however, quickly added to his original lyrics to make it an even more empowering anthem.
Sims and his friend create videos in their spare time, and the duo decided to turn the song into a full production, bringing equipment to the school to create the music video.
The dedication and hard work put into the anthem quickly paid off. Jada Pinkett Smith and Dulé Hill are just two of the celebrities who have shared the video on social media and praised the students for the creativity.
Former first lady Michelle Obama, who gets name-dropped in the song, also saw the video on the Black Girls Rock Instagram page and left a comment for her “young queens” Aryn and Savannah.
“Stay focused. Stay motivated. Never quit,” Obama wrote. “I’m with you, and couldn’t be prouder.”
In an interview with “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, Sims said he incorporates music throughout many of his lessons for his students.
“I use hip-hop in my class because that’s the culture they represent,” he said.
He has also made videos in the past around black identity, including one about Black Lives Matter and one titled “Black Is Be-You-Ti-Ful.”
Sims told HuffPost that the video is in honor of his late father, who also inspired his organization Sims Strong. He thanked the many celebrities who have shared his work and brought attention to the uplifting video.
“I think the feedback is beautiful,” he said. “It’s very nice to see celebrities in the hip-hop community appreciate the work.”
Before catching the attention of thousands, Sims knew the most important purpose of the video: to teach others to “love themselves and love the art of learning.”