Each year at Oak Park Middle School, the PTO brings a very special cultural arts program to their 8th grade students.
Randy Beard, a singer/songwriter trained as an educator, takes student writing and transforms it into music on the spot.
Teachers integrate his program with teaching the students about poetry. They learn about rhyme, rhythm, and meter and learn to read poems before writing their own.
When Randy Beard comes to the school, the two 8th grade language art classes meet together each period in the auditorium. One by one, they bring their poem up on stage, where they hold it out for Mr. Beard to read.
Within a moment of seeing their work, Beard begins strumming and tapping his guitar to set the mood for the song he's putting together. The student's face lights up as they recognize that Beard has captured the way they wanted the poem to feel.
The connections between what the students have learned in class and what they feel as they hear their words set to music are priceless.