Eighth Graders Pick John Legend’s Brain
As you may well know, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/philanthropist/registered heartthrob John Legend visited Stockard Middle School yesterday. A board member of Teach for America, he was there to tout the program and hand over $5,000 for Stockard’s music department from corporate sponsor JC Penny.
Legend didn’t get all musical, but a few students at the eighth-grade assembly sang and played keyboard in tribute. Others stuck him with questions such as these — scripted and admin-approved, but still pretty cute:
If you were a teacher, what grade and subject would you teach, and why?
Hrmmmm [everyone giggles]. I’d probably teach high school, because I don’t have any kids yet, so I can probably relate to high-school kids a little more than I can relate to younger kids right now …
If you could go back to college now, what college would you go to, what would you study, and why?
Legend has an English degree from the University of Pennsylvania; He’d keep his same alma mater and not change much, he said, other than to be a little more engaged and have more dialogue with professors. And yes, college rules.
Not only do you learn a lot from some of the smartest people in the world, but you’re surrounded by smart people, and you make friends that’ll last you a lifetime.
The singer got far heavier questions, too, about what he thinks could end the cycle of poverty (solid communities, solid schools, and ambitious kids, he said), and how students can help the educational system (don’t worry about it while you’re so young; just excel in school, help others along the way, and plan to give back when you can).
When one little girl asked about his influences, he cited his grandmother, who played the organ at church, then Stevie Wonder, Nat King Cole, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
“He represented someone who stood against injsutice who was a leader, and who did it nonviolently, in a way that made amazing dramatic changes in this country. Just 50 years ago, this country was divided by segregation … your grandparents, your aunts and uncles might be 50 or 60 years old, and this was in their lifetime.”
Admirably, Legend never plugged the fact that he’s about to go on tour in October; he is, and you can check out his calendar here.