Antonio Young is the teacher you wish you would’ve had when you were a kid. The sixth grade social studies and language arts teacher at Dunn Elementary School in Arlington has figured out a fun way to get students excited about learning, and he’s becoming something of an internet sensation in the process.
Young makes educational raps all the time, and his students are big fans. The classroom actually filmed a video for “Our Truth, Our Treasure,” a song written in honor of Black History Month. The clip has nearly 4,000 views on YouTube, and was featured on Access Hollywood, NBC DFW news, and People Magazine online.
Young wanted to give his students a Black History project that would introduce them to some important historical figures while teaching them modern skills.
“I love Dr. Martin Luther King, but there’s so much more for them to learn about,” he says. “I was trying to teach them the art of making videos, too. It really was a team effort. The kids who didn’t want to sing or dance would do the slides for the background, get the props…it came together in two days.”
The 41-year-old Chicago native has always loved rapping, but he never expected to become a teacher. Young was a journalist when his wife, who’s now an assistant principal in DFW, asked him to help with a black history program she was in charge of in Chicago. He credits her with inspiring him to pursue a career in education, and to start writing songs again.
The couple’s 13-year-old daughter Zion and 12-year-old son Jayden have also picked up their father’s hobby, and the family even performs together.
As far as his solo work, Mr. Young has some new hits coming on the way, including a motivational song about preparing for the STAAR Test.
He’ll usually choose the beat from an older hip-hop song so that his students won’t sing the original, often inappropriate lyrics, but he makes exceptions every once in a while.
“When I first got down here, I’d never heard [Yella Beezy’s] ‘That’s On Me,’ and I heard it on the radio and I loved it. On the first day of school, I just had a chant running through my mind: ‘Getting good grades, that’s on me baby,’” he chuckles.
The Yella Beezy remix is a favorite among Young’s students: “Even in sixth grade, they can break out of their shell and have fun and dance.”