Jackson High School, Civics/Government/African-American History
40 year veteran Educator
Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, a national education consultant, has stated that schools have virtually ignored the fact that boys and girls learn differently, and African American males suffer the most from this neglect. Mr. Crampton addresses these deficiencies by using compatible State Standards in English literacy to provide an exciting, innovative curriculum through S.L.A.M Lyrical Education. In S.L.A.M., Mr. Crampton engages all students in higher level, critical thinking activities that focus on English Language Arts. However, this curriculum can be adapted to any particular subject and/or classroom.
Students learn in many different styles, and many cannot adapt to a traditional learning curriculum. Mr. Crampton offers an excellent alternative or supplemental curriculum that most students can highly identify with. Mr. Crampton has divided the S.L.A.M. curriculum into three phases, and students will use E.L.A. skills to develop final pieces that relate to the particular subject that they are studying. They will act as peer editor’s for each other, and will showcase their final pieces to the community through an open-mic competition.
Mr. Crampton is a passionate, talented speaker and writer who has a vision of reaching every student and expanding their education, especially the at-risk student. He is committed to his art form- spoken word-and encourages students to empower themselves through words. As an educator for 39 years, I feel that S.L.A.M. will definitely be an asset to any curriculum, and I encourage every teacher to incorporate it into their subject area.
McCulloch Academy, Principal
16 year veteran Educator
Our principal, Frances L. Reeves, saw Hakim Crampton speak at an event honoring Martin Luther King Jr. at Jackson Community College in early 2012. After striking up a conversation, they realized that they shared a common goal: the education of children. She invited Hakim to work with our fifth grade students and a wonderful partnership was forged. Soon after, the fifth grade students in room six at McCulloch Academy were introduced to Hakim Crampton.
Hakim began by seizing my students’ interest with the story of his life, captivating not only in its harrowing details—a man wrongfully imprisoned for over a decade, then vindicated and released—but also because of its bold truths and intelligence. Hakim could have emerged from his ordeal bitter and angry. Instead, he told my students the story of a man who made bad decisions in his youth, a young man who was living a life that could have very well led him to commit the crime for which he was wrongly accused and imprisoned. He then related the transformation that took place within him during his false incarceration and how he was introduced to a man that changed how he thought and set him on the path to self-education and, ultimately, self-expression. He laid all of his struggles, mistakes, and triumphs bare for my students—children who are now living in the same neighborhood and walking the same streets Hakim had as a teenager--students prone to the same temptations and dangers he was exposed to in his youth. It is these students Hakim has a passion for reaching, and reach them he did.
Hakim used each subsequent visit as an opportunity to teach my students about poetry, spoken word, and song. However, these were not the dry, lifeless writing lessons of old. Hakim captured their attention by performing his own spoken word pieces for them and relating the stories behind each one.
He then showed them how to create their own poems and spoken word pieces, first by transforming one of his works and slowly turning over creative control to them. Along the way, there were lessons on grammar, pronunciation, and mechanics, along with opportunities for students to perform their pieces for the entire class. His lessons were fresh and relevant, engaging even the least motivated of students and establishing an exciting purpose and audience for their writing.
Students thrived under his tutelage, their confidence sent soaring and their spirits set free with the ability to express themselves. Many would complete his assignment each week and then write a second or third piece for themselves. Some of the students he worked with are still writing spoken word pieces today, a year later.
As exciting as it was watching students become enchanted with the writing process, the most critical part of our experience with Hakim was the work he did showing students how to translate and access instructional materials using his art form. Hakim would show students a passage from a text, pull out important concepts, then demonstrate how this information could be transformed into spoken word, poetry, or song—all easily memorized, all more relevant to today’s children. My students became more engaged in the learning process because they felt they had some control over how they learned, and it was fun for them. We should never underestimate the power of that word in education! In this way, his program provided students with a powerful tool that they can use to memorize and process the information they need to learn for the rest of their lives.
It would be impossible to overstate the impact that meeting and working with Hakim had on the academic and personal lives of my students. He and his lessons provided a positive, life-altering message to combat the messages our inner-city children receive from their peers and popular media. His life, in all its tragedies and triumphs, shines like a beacon for them, proof that there is another path to take, and that education is the key to a brighter tomorrow for each of them.
Jackson High School, Dean of Student
16 year veteran Educator
In the endeavor to prepare students for college and career readiness, K-12 teachers are called upon to help all students develop a certain set of skills to be used to succeed and contribute as adults in society, while justly sustaining themselves.
The expectations set by the Common Core Standards entail developing student’s higher level thinking capacities. Past traditional approaches to educating students are falling short of helping students meet the mark, particularly students in lower socio economic backgrounds. Best practices reveal that student interest and engagement are foundational pillars for the structure of their learning.
Through S.L.A.M., Mr. Crampton has developed a living format comprised of a compellation of English Language Arts Centered learning experiences. The curriculum and the process Mr. Crampton uses has the innate potential of creating learning experiences that provide the rigor needed to develop students cognitive capacities.
While experiencing the three phases of the S.L.A.M curriculum, students will have the experience of reading closely to determine the meaning of words, phrases and passages. Students will also create sample pieces using the acquired E.L.A. skills they developed through S.L.A.M. Finally students will share, critique and present their final pieces in an open-mic setting.
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, this curriculum innately embodies an arena in which students can culturally identify, relate and feel comfortable with, while learning, sharing and growing.
The passion, inspiration, and vision Mr. Crampton wrote this curriculum under is sure to be an asset in bridging educational and social disconnects amongst students in need of alternative learning measures.
Middle School at Parkside
3 year New Educator
In the last 10 years, the role of a teacher in the classroom has undergone dramatic transformation. The days of the teacher standing at the head of a classroom delivering monotonous instruction has been replaced with the need to interact, guide, and facilitate the acquisition of knowledge for their students. This renewed focus on student-centered teaching has been widely acknowledged and implemented by educational preparatory programs across the nation.
Through student-centered lessons, teachers endeavor to bring forth an intrinsic interest in the content being presented. In the education realm, we call this engagement. This engagement drives imagination and in turn induces the creative process necessary to produce higher ordered thinking skills. Research has shown that when the student is engaged, they make a psychological investment into leaning on their own, thus creating the ideal climate to generate life-long learners.
Although the rhetoric of engagement is appealing, its materialization has surfaced as a daunting and laborious task for educators across the world. Teachers are in constant competition with technology, music, and other distractions that easily influence the minds of our youth. Some educators have sought overcome these barriers by infusing music and technology into their daily lesson plans, however many traditional teachers still struggle to bridge this gap.
Poised to contribute an answer to these overwhelming barriers is the S.L.A.M. initiative created by Hakim Crampton. This program delivers the level of rigor mandated by the English Language Arts state standards while training students in the skills of inference, prediction, critique, and analysis. Most importantly, the methodology is cultivated by something every student recognizes: rhythm and diction.
Mr. Crampton has very intelligently discovered a way for students to realize the true power of their words. Through poetry and wordplay, they navigate a landscape shaped by topics that are culturally relevant, which naturally induces engagement and ensures that students receive stimulation for the brain and for the soul. S.L.A.M also embodies the pedagogical approach of constructivism created by educational philosopher Jean Piaget which advocates letting the student generate knowledge from an interaction of their experiences and their ideas. Because of its wide range of tools, there is also the potential for use in different subject matters.
Without compromising compulsory material, and introducing research based theories, the S.L.A.M. program engages students in every lesson, bringing meaning back to education that fosters the growth and development of our youth, and activism in our community.