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Teen Success Academy

By: Austin Dixon

When I heard that I would be assisting in this student success program, I honestly didn't know what to think or what I was getting myself into ... until I stepped foot into their classroom. Surprisingly, I felt as though I was able to step into their world and get a slight glimpse of who the kids were. In a project where I assisted LMichelle at James A. Shank Middle School, our main project consisted of having the kids pick and choose their favorite songs from trending rap artists such as NBA Youngboy, Rod Wave, and many others. While on the surface it may seem as though we just wanted to see what was trending in the rap world or what songs were taking over the radio waves, the purpose of this activity goes deeper than what most people would think. The reason this activity has and will continue to serve a purpose bigger than "just lyrics," is because the lyrics in a song can be used to tell a genuine story of a particular artist or they could be used to falsely transform the minds of those who are too young or simply don't understand or comprehend. In a world where kids want to be understood, they are often left with the harsh reality that they never will be ... you guessed it understood, and in return look for that confirmation in forms of songs. In the activity that saw the lyrics read aloud to them in the classroom, many of the students were more able to identify and pick apart the negative lyrics in NBA Youngboy's "Valuable Pain" song and were unexpectedly stuck with one question... What actually defines a good role model? While it may be hard to completely drown your favorite artist(s) whether their music contains explicit lyrics or not, part one of this experience may have taught someone that wasn't a student in the classroom that day - myself.

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