Struggling students in Texas rap their way to the top of the class

When you think about your days in high school English class, you probably don’t imagine the sound of a deep bass beat pumping in the background, kids nodding their heads, and rapping their lessons.

At Mission IDEA in Mission, Texas, that was the case recently, at least for a few students.

Ninth grade English teacher James Gibson decided to find a way to get his struggling students to the top of the class. The solution: an assignment they could get excited about, making a music video.

“Music not only helps students with writing, but with speaking, oral delivery, a lot of things, intonation. A lot of these things that are actually TEKS, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, that we have to have our students know for the state exam,” said Gibson.

“Like not paying attention, being bad and being rude and stuff,” said Juan Meza, ninth grade.

But distraction wasn’t the only problem. Low self-esteem played a role in these kids success too. “At other middle schools and elementary schools, I wasn’t passing any quizzes or any tests. Always failing, always failing,” said Omar Celedon, ninth grade.

But when they could learn in a medium they loved, rap music, their attitude and work ethic totally changed.

“Well first I was excited, I have been thinking about this since I was a little kid, being a rapper just like Eminem,” said Celedon.

So with the help of Gibson, Mission IDEA ninth grade English students produced a rap video promoting positive learning. It’s called Mande and it has already reached over a thousand hits on YouTube.

“They are incredible. They talk about going to college, they talk about working hard, a little bit about their culture, but it is always positive,” said Gibson.

It’s been an experience Meza said he will always remember.

“When I came here it changed my life. This school, it really cares,” said Meza.

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