ECHS Students to Perform At SBOE Meeting

ECHS Students to Perform in Upcoming SBOE Meeting
Posted on 04/14/2021
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On Friday, April 16, the State Board of Education (SBOE) will broadcast an instructional music video created by students in the DeSoto Early College High School (ECHS) program’s Advanced English course. Last school year, SBOE Representative Aicha Davis invited the teacher, Cora Garner, and her students to Austin, TX to perform a medley of instructional raps for the April 2020 meeting; however, their performance was postponed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.


Last year’s meeting was slated to include a vote on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKs) for the first African American literacy class. This year’s meeting commemorates the one-year anniversary of the vote for African American Literacy TEKS.


Now that the meetings have transitioned to a virtual space, Garner and her students have been invited back to showcase “the unique, dynamic experience (Garner) gives her students through the incorporation of arts,” said Rep. Davis who went on to describe Garner’s work as “truly amazing.”


“Upon starting my teaching career at DeSoto Early College High School, I was determined to positively impact all students through culturally-responsive instruction, with an emphasis on English Language Arts and Reading,” said Garner. “While empowering students, I discovered their many talents, which led to ongoing, creative projects. This instructional music video is one of many student-teacher collaborations that illustrate how learning can be engaging, relevant, and effective during in-person or virtual platforms.”


When asked about the benefit of Garner’s unique instructional style, ECHS Senior Michelle Kalu said, “I remember sitting for exams and completely forgetting everything I learned because of how anxious I was. Strategies, concepts, all of it gone because of how nervous I would get before taking tests.”


Following class discussions about testing anxiety, Kalu realized that this is an issue that affects a lot more students than people realize. 


“I really do believe that the strategy songs we learned with Ms. Garner gave us all the boost we needed to overcome that fear,” said Kalu.


 Though the raps are short, they are full of important information packaged in catchy rhythms that are seemingly unforgettable among Garner’s students. 


“For us,” said Kalu, “there’s a deep connection to rap and R&B because it’s a part of our culture: we grew up listening to it and we play it all the time, rapping along with the lyrics. Now that an educational element was added to it, it became even more important. We all can walk into EOCs with more confidence after retaining the information from the songs.”


Because the SBOE meetings are now broadcast online, Davis hopes educators across the country become inspired by Garner’s style and success.


In preparation for the virtual event, Garner's students constructed a music video highlighting instructional English Language Arts and College Readiness strategies. The video was directed and produced by ECHS student Jamison McBride, who guided his classmates in both virtual and in-person settings. With the help of ECHS Principal Dr. LaBotta Taylor, the Honorable DeSoto Mayor Rachel Proctor, and DeSoto Library Teen Services Coordinator Marq Runnels, McBride shot several scenes in the DeSoto City Council Chambers and Public Library, while the remaining scenes were recorded on Zoom.


McBride said, “Being able to direct, produce, edit, and star in a creative project with my peers is an undoubtedly invaluable experience. Being given the opportunity to eventually share that project with not only my community but the world is a blessing on its own. I know in my heart that the knowledge and experience that I’ve gained from projects similar to this one are extremely valuable and unforgettable.” 


To support Garner and her ECHS students, please watch the music video live on the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website, which will air on Friday, April 16, 2021, at 9 am. The music video features the following ECHS students: Jazmine Jackson (12th), Jazzie Jackson (12th), Breona Jones (12th), Michelle Kalu (12th); Faith Bell (11th), Amiri Johnson (11th), JamisonMcBride (11th); Eduardo Nava (10th); Chanstin Asberry (9th), Makayla Campbell (9th), Amaia Murphy (9th), Joshua Owens (9th), and Taryn Watkins (9th).