Teacher of the week: Lamont Holden

Teacher of the week: Lamont Holden

On Wednesdays, we'll spotlight a difference-making area educator. To nominate a teacher, tweet to education reporter @Nicole_Lafond with the hashtag #TeacherOfTheWeek.

This week...

Meet Lamont Holden, a reading, writing and AVID teacher for eighth-graders at Edison Middle School who jumps at any opportunity he can to incorporate hip hop, free style and beat-making into his classroom. "Hip hop is just in me, so it comes out in my teaching," he said.

(Three YouTube videos here, here and here.)

When he noticed his students were struggling with punctuation, the former Illinois football player printed off lyrics to Jay-Z's song "A Dream" and had the students fill in the proper marks. He hosts freestyle competitions with students and even does entire units on rap to help his kids learn concepts like metaphors, rhythm and rhyme.

"I am a product of a generation entrenched in hip hop. Hip hop is a youth culture. It's not a culture that produces a lot of teachers, but I happen to be one of them," he said.

Favorite tactic for getting students to pay attention? Freestyle until the kids get quiet... they always do.

What's on your desk? MacBook Pro, bottle/cup of water.

Teaching supply you can't live without? MacBook Pro

Funniest question a student has asked you? 'What happened to the rib sandwiches!' When kids get assigned lunch detention they have to serve the detention before they eat lunch. They usually end up eating last so most of the premiere meals for the day are gone and they are left with stupid stuff like fresh fruits and vegetables. Well, the premier meal for the day that particular day was what we affectionately refer to as the McUnit #4. It's something like a McRib from McDonald's but not quite. I'm waiting for the kids to go through the line and the lunch lady comes out from behind the line covered in milk. She pointed to one young lady who was losing her mind, yelling at the top of her lungs, "WHY AIN'T WE GOT NO MORE RIB SANDWICHES?!" She'd spiked a carton of milk in the middle of the line. It was a mess. We didn't run out of rib sandwiches after that.

Favorite hobby? Making beats, writing, rapping.

Favorite thing to do over winter break? I usually get a new piece of music equipment for Christmas and I make beats all break. And eat.

Subject/topic you enjoy teaching the most? I love teaching students about subject-verb agreement. We're living in a society that has an obsession with race and it's reflected in our students' attitudes. The students talk about 'acting black' or 'acting white' and as an educator I feel that I have to help deconstruct the myth of race. One of the ways I do that is through language. Subject-verb disagreement is an attribute of southern dialect which is a declaration of language and culture as opposed to race.

Social media you use most often? Facebook most and probably Twitter after that.

If you could live anywhere in the world ... Egypt.

Latest you've stayed at school working? 10 p.m.

What does your morning routine look like? Bike to work. Open the classroom. Set up the MacBook (Apple didn't pay me I promise. I live on Apple products). Make a couple of copies then go hangout on the playground.

Favorite book? "Makes Me Wanna Holla: To Be a Young Black Man in America." Changed my life when I was 15.

What's the best day of the week? Friday.

Sections (3):News, Local, Living
Topics (3):Education, Music, People

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