As a kid, Adrian Perez played in bands and dreamed of being a rockstar. At some point it clicked that being a professional musician wasn’t a realistic goal, so Perez turned to teaching. But he never let go of his love of music. Case in point: his Kanye West-themed classroom at McCabe Elementary School in Mendota.
A faithful listener of rock music, it wasn’t until a visit to the doctor in 2005 that Perez first gave Kanye West a chance. While waiting for his name to be called, Perez picked up an issue of Time magazine featuring the hip hop star on its cover. The rest, as Perez says, is history. Flash forward 10 years and Perez has come up with a way to combine his love of West’s music with his love of teaching by decorating his 4th grade classroom with positive themes drawn from the lyrics and song titles of his favorite musician.
Perez uses the song “Champion” off West’s 2007 album “Graduation” to encourage students to do their best in class every day. A banner with the slogan “Learn like a champion today” hangs outside the classroom door. Perez says his students touch it before entering class each morning as a symbol of their commitment to learning.
The inside of one of the classroom door says “Welcome to the good life,” a reference to another of West’s songs from the “Graduation” album, and features a cartoon bear inspired by the album’s cover art. Other songs and albums are used throughout the classroom as teaching tools, and the primary color in the room, red, is also drawn from one of West’s albums.
Perez says both parents and school administrators love his idea of incorporating West’s music into his teaching. His classroom’s also gotten a lot of hype online after it was featured on a Kanye West fan site. Who knows, maybe Kanye West himself will see it and visit Perez’s classroom.
“Friends are saying, ‘What if he visits?'” Perez says. “That’d be awesome. That’d be awesome for the kids and for the community: Kanye West visits McCabe Elementary, Mendota, California.”
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