Two Georgia high school teachers who recently started their year online decided they would not let the changes of school this fall hold them — or their students — down.
So they made a hype video about it.
Audrianna Williams and Callie Evans are teachers at Monroe Comprehensive High School in Albany, Georgia, a 75,000-person town three hours north of Atlanta.
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Williams and Evans, who started a tradition of back-to-school video several years ago, felt that some positive energy in 2020 would be more important than ever.
“We have been affected dramatically by COVID-19 here, and some of our students lost family members to the virus,” Williams, who teaches AP U.S. History and other social studies classes, told TODAY Parents.
Albany was hit particularly hard by COVID-19 last spring; at one point, it was fourth in the nation for cases per capita.
“We wanted to be able to kind of pick their spirits up and grab their attention to get them excited about virtual learning,” she said. “We didn’t know what virtual learning was going to hold for for us, so we just wanted to get them motivated.”
Inspired by “What’s Poppin'” by Jack Harlow, Williams and Evans wrote their own raps, then recruited cheerleaders from the high school squad that they coach as back-up dancers. Jamel Overstreet of Overstreet Media Services helped them produce.
The lyrics celebrate virtual learning. “Mrs. Williams been poppin’/2020 new school year dropping/No COVID-19, ain’t worried bout a thing/When it come to me/ain’t no stopping,” raps Williams.
“Mrs. Evans on the beat, so tap in/You got options, but you better pass my class, no floppin’/Gone log in, everyday, every morning, I’m watching/Yeah we virtual, and you know what’s up, so we ’bout to take it up a notch and/Monroe is the best, no comparing/We at the top, all truth no daring,” raps Evans, who teaches economics and journalism.
The videos have taken off on social media, with over a half million views combined.
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The women aimed their message at students and fellow teachers alike.
“We were fearful of what could happen and nervous about trying to make everything virtual ourselves,” said Williams.
Their viral stardom has made quite an impression on their students. “That was literally all they talked about the first day of school,” said Evans. “They’re really excited, and I can see this excitement is not just going to be temporary. I’m hoping it lasts the entire year and shows them we can do creative things and keep this momentum going so they can still have a great year.”
Williams said she hopes the video encourages students and teachers to “be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud,” she said. “Regardless of everything we’re going through — even if you’re nervous, someone else might be more nervous than you are. Keep encouraging others and be a light.”
Evans said as far as she is concerned, virtual learning is “where it’s at. I love it,” she said.
“The first day you may have technical issues, but it’s rewarding to see your students really listening to you even while you’re through a computer screen and to see that they’re already grasping the information,” she said. “We don’t necessarily have to be face-to-face for our students to connect with us and for our students to actually get the information, so I don’t think it’s the teachers have anything to worry about.”