By any means necessary

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DeKalb County teachers use viral music videos to reach students

 Thanks to the internet and a little creativity, two DeKalb County School District (DCSD) teachers have discovered a unique way to reach students.

 Sheldon Strickland, a second grade teacher at Kingsley Elementaryand Rayshun Casey, a sixth grade teacher at Redan Middle, have released four educational music videos under the name Casey & Strick. Each video—the latest of which has received more than 42,000 views—contains a message for students to dance to, consider and internalize.

 On July 20, Casey & Strick released “Read a Book,” which features puppetry and footage of students reading in the library to communicate to students the importance of reading books.

 “There’s so much knowledge / The more that you read / There’s so many secrets / That you won’t believe,” raps Casey.

 “We gotta let them know, Casey / It’s our mission to succeed / And when you read you’ll make that mission complete,” raps Strickland.

 Casey and Strickland communicate through the music video that reading can show a reader opportunities for the future, solutions to problems, routes to achievement, stimulation and more—all to the sound of a catchy beat and positive lyrics.

 The video also takes shots at trends viewed as distractions, such as online videos, negative peers, fidget-spinners and social media.

 Casey said the response from students as well as fellow teachers has been positive.

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 “We’re getting a lot of love,” Casey said. “Our coworkers love it and share it. Faculty and administration love it. We want to reach as many people as we can to spread the positivity.”

 “It’s exciting to see the work we’ve done get into other peoples’ hands,” Strickland said. “We’re spreading positive energy and getting positive energy in return and that’s inspiring us to do more.” 

 Casey & Strick have addressed other inspirational topics in past videos.

 In “I Can Do Anything,” which has more than 10,000 views, students are taught they can accomplish anything they put their mind to, despite possible setbacks, negativity and self-doubt.

 “If I wanna be a doctor, I can do it / If I wanna be a lawyer, I can do it / Even if I wanna be an astronaut, I can do it / Because all I gotta do is put my mind into it,” raps Strickland.

 “Your thoughts and your feelings create your life / Everything that you do comes with a price / The sweat, the pain and the tears, you can’t afford it / Just keep on the grind and you can pay for it,” raps Casey.

 In “What is a TEACHER?” Casey & Strick tell the story of a LaShawn James, who joins the NBA after high school and wins three championships. The story—geared toward teachers rather than students—demonstrates to students that behind every success story, there’s a teacher who practices punctuality, alertness and rigor.

 “Teachers, always remember that your job is important,” Stickland states. “We have the power to influence, lead and motivate. To the world, we may be just teachers, but to students, we’re heroes.”

 In “D.A.D.D.Y.,” Casey & Strick tackle the complexity of fatherhood by using The Fresh Prince of Bel Air footage and home movies.

 Strickland and Casey said their families’ history in education led to creating music videos. They said the overall goal was to motivate and inspire others the way their families’ motivated and inspired them.

 “There’s a lot of opportunities we didn’t get and that others didn’t get,” Casey said. “We want to give students those opportunities to be what they want to be.”

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 “We want to show kids they can do whatever they want. We want teachers who are talking about [being teachers] to be teachers,” Strickland said. “We want to kids to have a spark plug that keeps them engaged throughout the school year.”

 Casey & Strick’s music has been featured on WSB-TV and Power 96.1 in Atlanta. The video “Read A Book,” has been shared more than 1,000 times on Facebook. Strickland said school districts from as far away as London have contacted the duo for more material.

 In the interim, Casey & Strick will do what they have been doing for the past few months—create positive, catchy, relatable content.

 “We want to reach as many platforms as possible,” Strickland said. “We have to do something to get education moving again in a positive way.”

 “We want to do more and put more love out there,” Casey said.

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