Terrance Sims // YouTube
Earlier this summer, Erica Buddington, a teacher at Capital Preparatory Charter School in Harlem, helped her students learn geography with a now-viral remix of Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow," and today, yet another success story stemming from fusing hip-hop and education has emerged (Oct. 25).
Terrance Sims, a sixth-grade math teacher at Milwaukee Excellence, is the latest educator to combine hip-hop into his lesson plans, with his students putting their own spin on Tee Grizzley's breakout single, "First Day Out."
Two of his students, Aryn and Savannah, performed the track, with several of their classmates making cameos in the video accompanying the song, which is titled "Excellence First!"
"Michelle Obama showed me how to do it / So I'ma get it, educated, motivated, melan-ated, elevated," is one of the song's many stand-out bars.
Of the song, Sims explained that it was a group effort, doubling as a way to get his students eager for the year ahead.
"I wanted to be able to get my students excited about being in my classroom this year," Sims shared during an interview with Complex. "I looked at it as more of a first day of school welcome, and the kids really latched on to the song, and started adding different parts. So, it was really a small thing, and the ball just kept rolling, and we just kept adding to it. Literally, one day we finished a lesson early, and I wanted the kids to go up and do the parts, and Aryn was one of the ones who went up, and the way she spit it was so cold I was like, 'We have to get this recorded.'"
He also detailed how the song came together, explaining how the remix essentially wrote itself with the help of his students.
"It started with one verse," Sims elaborated. "I wrote the first verse as a welcome, and they started jumping in like, 'Oh, Mr. Sims, we should add this line. We should add this line.' So, we took a bunch of the lines, and worked them in to make it all flow together. Aryn's entire first verse was all in the welcome. Then, when Savannah starts rapping, that was moreso me and the kids putting everything together."
Previously, Sims made headlines for his grad school project, "Representation Is Key," which featured prominent Black figures throughout history. Even Taraji P. Henson got wind of his work, happily reposting his segment highlighting the women who inspired the 2016 film, Hidden Figures.
Take a look at Terrance Sims and his students' collaborative single below.