Here's something you won't hear about in the media: a talented Math teacher and a creative English/History teacher go above and beyond the call of duty to produce educational math songs and videos for students at a public middle school in South Central LA, in spite of one of them being laid off in June.
Lamar Queen signing autographs for his fans
Lamar Queen with AvalonSensei, teacher/blogger
LAAMS teacher Ha Nguyen and Jimmy Pascascio
Former students come out to support Mr. Queen
LAAMS teachers support their talented colleague
Video Director Jimmy Pascascio with My Dear Aunt Sally, former student Whitney Parham
Its not as fun to read about real teachers that reflect the best that LAUSD has to offer: educators with a passion for for their craft, amazing talents, abundant creativity, a commitment to students and their families...
Close to 100 teachers, community members, and fans came out on Saturday, December 12, 2009 in spite of heavy rain, to support the release of Lamar Queen's Mind of a Mathman CD and DVD of educational math songs/raps. The South Central community celebrated the accomplishments of Lamar and Video Director Jimmy Pascascio in the culmination of their two year long project on creating resources for teachers that will engage and empower students to improve in math.
But that's not as exciting as reading about the 1% of teachers who do poorly in the classroom and have to sit in District rubber rooms for their transgressions.
Lamar Queen was laid off in June, due to his lack of seniority in LAUSD. He could have chosen to work at a charter or in the private sector due to his talents, but chose to stay at LA Academy because he was committed to his students and community. He took a pay cut, has to work in multiple classrooms all year long to keep his benefits, and is basically doing the same work for less pay. Way to go Milton Friedman!
All we hear in the papers are how teachers are responsible for the state of education today and how Fremont HS down the street needed reconstitution in order to make progress
Jimmy Pascascio saw Lamar Queen perform his Slope Intercept Rap at our annual holiday luncheon in 2007 (its a tradition to have new teachers perform for the veterans as a way of building camaraderie at the school) and offered to help make a video of his song. The video has garnered close to 50,000 hits on you tube since it was posted 1 1/2 years ago. Both teachers won multiple awards for their work, and have performed in various schools to promote math education in a way that today's youth find engaging and enjoyable.
But newspapers want to harp on the greedy teachers' union and how teachers are against reform
Funds from the sales of the CD's and DVD's will be reinvested in their newly formed educational company, Music Notes, where they will help teachers write songs and create videos in other content areas to continue to improve education. A portion of the sales will go to fund scholarships for students to pursue the arts outside of South Central LA.
Perhaps when teachers protest about cuts and layoffs its because we don't want to lose teachers like Lamar Queen and Jimmy Pascascio; because we know how desperately students in hard to staff schools need teachers like this; because we know that finding teachers who care AND want to work in tough parts of town AND want to stay for a significant length of time is worth fighting for and preserving, but...that wouldn't be compelling enough to write about
To see clips of Jimmy and Lamar's videos visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/musicnotesonline
To purchase Mind of a Mathman visit musicnotesonline.com