Teachers teach students not to be a product of their environment - | WBTV Charlotte

Teachers teach students not to be a product of their environment


The Hidden Valley community has had its share of troubles this year. From murder, to gang activity, to a police involved shooting. The criminal activity all took place with Hidden Valley Elementary school nearby.

The news has bothered some students. Hidden Valley ES music teacher Christa Shephard had to deal with a student living in the midst of trouble.  

"He was being totally disruptive and disrespectful," Shephard said. "And I told him, what's wrong. This isn't you."

That student had a lot on his mind.

"His mother was on drugs," the teacher said. "His father didn't want him and his cousin was the guy that was murdered, and he was really close to his cousin."

The teacher gave him this response.

"You can't let those things that have happened in the past," Shephard said. "Effect your future. Don't let that hold you back."

This is Shephard's first year teaching.  She chose to teach at a challenged school and believes music can help students cope with their surroundings that may challenge them.

"I teach children that they can use music," Shephard said. "As a vehicle of expression. So instead of lashing out at someone or talking bad about someone or just feeling bad about yourself, use it as a gateway."

The teacher believes music is a powerful subject that can make a difference. She sometimes plays different types of music in her classroom for her students.

"It helps them finish their work," Shephard said. "And it motivates them to finish their work."

It appears the message of overcoming is resonating with her students.

"If you don't ever give up," Hidden Valley ES 4th Grader Jaliyah Howie said. "And if you achieve your goals, you may actually do it and be very good at it."

Shephard should be performing on a stage.  She is an opera singer who has performed at Carnegie Hall and in front of President Barack Obama. But now she is teaching in a mobile classroom telling students about music and life. 

"I want to be an agent of change," Shephard said. "I want to make a difference in these children's lives, that's what it's about. They are tomorrow's leaders."

Shephard is not alone in her quest, administrators say community partnerships also helps students remain positive in sometimes negative situations students encounter.

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