Last year I was inspired by the movie Moneyball. Essentially the premise of the movie is that Brad Pitt (Playing Oakland A’s General Manager, Billy Beane) defies the norms of MLB scouts to put together a winning baseball team with essentially no-budget.
I felt like I could identify with the movie as a under-resourced, inner-city music teacher in Detroit. I wanted something greater for my kids and I felt so limited with what I had to work with.
I watched this movie and saw Billy Beane put together a star baseball team. Consisting of what The Major League Baseball community considered the “misfits” of the game. A group of people that looked more like a circus act than a team when they first began.
I heard lines in the movie with purpose like, “all we need him to do is get on base,” and it began to spark something inside of me.
I wanted to try this too! I don’t need to win games, but I do want to help raise strong, dedicated and consistent men.
So, I started a group called “Beasts of the Beat” at Northpointe. I mentioned them in an earlier post. What I wanted to do with this group was to facilitate a creative community to foster deep relationships and raise boys into men – through hip-hop. Where Moneyball inspired me was deciding who I would pick to be in the group. My first reaction was to choose the best drummers, rappers, and singers. I began to look at all my kids, not through the lens of how their talents could move the group forward, but how their character traits could bring out greatness in another person.
*Watch an introduction to the personalities of the 2013 Beasts HERE
I looked to include students with consistent traits of Servant-Leadership, Humility, Patience, and Dedication. While also looking for students with deep emotional needs for community, purpose, and something to be proud of. I wanted to tackle issues like entitlement, anger, flakiness, and disrespect. All with the end goal being to raise boys to men, through hip-hop and community with each other. I did and still do believe this will work.
It’s been almost a year now, the 9 boys put out a cd on iTunes; Beasts of the Beat – EP. They recently performed at Cobo Hall in Detroit for a charter school conference and will be performing at schools around South East MI this spring talking about tackling bullying in schools with their new single, “Bully.”
Bringing out Greatness in our students is what we want as teachers. For me, it is fun performing with them and living life along side of them. But I will only know if Beasts of the Beat was a success by looking at the man that each one of these boys becomes in 15-20 years.
Is this a group for the leaders in the school? Some of them are leaders. Some are not.
Are all the Beasts Straight-A students with no behavior problems? No. We actually deal with a good amount of behavior problems. But it is essential to have if you want to foster a culture of accountability in the group.
Do you include all new students at the beginning of the year? No. I have one new student this year.