Welcome to the fourth grade.
In preparation for his student teaching job, Dwayne Reed decided to do something a little different from the usual lesson plan prep — he made a rap video.
"I wanted to get my students excited about the upcoming school year," Reed said. "I also wanted to connect myself to them before they even stepped foot in the classroom."
Aside from welcoming his fourth grade class to the new year at Stenson Elementary School in Skokie, Illinois, the video highlights some "ideas he'd really like to try." He's interested in using music to teach on occasion because it has a way of making things stick in your head. (Seriously, you'll never stop singing the catchy welcome song Reed wrote.)
According to Reed, his students loved the video, as did their parents, and their friends, and their friends' parents. The video went viral and no doubt earned him the Coolest Teacher of the Year award.
While the student and parent approval is definitely a plus, it's what he's doing with the notoriety from his viral video that matters more.
He's made it his mission to get books and supplies to underserved kids all over the Chicago area.
Public school funding in Chicago has been notoriously low since the 2008 recession, and this year is no exception. According to district data, over 30 public schools are set to lose between $50,000 and $200,000 in funding in the 2016-17 school year.
This is a reflection of a much larger problem with the way education is funded in America. According to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, at least 31 states provided less funding per student in 2014 than they did in 2008 before the recession hit. While 2016's complete data isn't in yet, so far, more than 25 states are still providing less funding overall.
Teachers all over the country are spending their own money to make up for the lack of funds to keep their classrooms outfitted with the proper supplies.
This is not something that should fall to them, but more often than not, it does. A Vox survey shows the majority of teachers spend anywhere from $200 to over $600 of their own salaries on school supplies for their students. Many have even turned to education-specific crowdfunding sites like Donors Choose, which certainly helps, but shouldn't be necessary for public education.
Thankfully, people, especially parents, are starting to take notice. They're helping out in any way they can — like the story of this great dad who gave what he could to a teacher buying supplies. Or this mom who wrote about how much buying that extra tissue box means to a teacher.
Reed continues to raise money via a GoFundMe account set up for him and by privately reaching out to those in his community.
But despite Reed's newfound fame, he – and many, many other teachers – could use a helping hand.
So consider donating to him or a school near you or a teacher you might randomly encounter buying school supplies. You'll be making a huge difference — not only to that teacher, but to all the kids they teach.
Here's Reed's awesome music video "Welcome to the Fourth Grade" for further incentive.