Ne-Yo Get Schooled Foundation: Singer Serves as Principal & ‘Beacon of Light’
Ne-Yo may have a busy schedule, but giving back to others remains at the forefront of his priorities. The Grammy winner surprised 588 students at the Aki Kurose Middle School in Seattle, Wash., Monday (Feb. 27), to commemorate their win in the 2011 Get Schooled Fall Attendance Challenge.
Students at the school participated in a seven week-long competition to help improve daily attendance numbers nationwide. While at the school, the singer performed a few songs, and acted as “Principal for the Day,” where he co-taught a math class and encouraged students to focus on their education, and to remain disciplined in all of their endeavors. “We’re supporting the importance of showing up,” Ne-Yo tells The BoomBox. “Showing up is honestly the most important thing you can do, if you don’t show up [in life] you can guarantee that nothing will happen.”
The Las Vegas native was inspired to join forces with the Get Schooled Foundation because of their commitment to keeping youth on the right path. The Fall Attendance Challenge included nearly 80,000 students at 73 school in 17 states and monitored attendance between Oct. 3- Nov. 18. Aki Kurose scored a 3.7 percent by engaging the student body in various activities.
“It was a celebration of responsibility, it’s a great thing,” he adds. “They’re [Get Schooled] one of the few organziations trying to promote positivity. It’s a lack of that in the world right now. Especially in my realm. In the realm of entertainment, the train wreck and the fistfight is more glorified nowadays. So for me to kind of step out of it and be a beacon of light trying to promote some positivity, I feel like that’s a necessary thing right now. It’s definitely needed.”
The R&B crooner held a question-and-answer period with the students, which allowed him to call on some of the lessons taught to him as a child by his own mother. Now a father of two, Ne-Yo, born Shaffer Smith, Jr., was raised to follow his dreams.
Watch Ne-Yo’s ‘Miss Independent’ Video
“I gotta say, I was truly blessed in having a mom that taught us the concept of ‘Don’t ever tell nobody what you can’t do.’ That’s the way my mom raised me and my sister,” he shares. Aside from the encouragement he received at home, the singer-songwriter also got support from his high-school art teacher. “Miss Treat, she was definitely an ‘all killer, no filler’ type of teacher,” he continues. “She kept it very real with us, and we respected her for that. She was like, ‘Do you wanna be the guy driving the Benz or you wanna be the guy running up to the window trying to clean it and ask for some change?’ That was her approach and it worked because a lot of the kids in her class went on to do something with their lives, present company included.”
Additionally, Ne-Yo joined local radio hosts Karen Wild and Eddie Francis from The Wake Up Show on 93.3 KUBE for an all-school event, co-sponsored by aviation giant Boeing. The event recognized accomplishments from both students and staff. Coming on the heels of his performance in the George Lucas film ‘Red Tails,’ the 32-year-old also shared the stage with Tuskegee Airmen, Lt. Colonel Ed Drummond, and treated students to a sneak peek of the film.
“I feel like what my main role in this whole thing was making them understand that there is a bridge between what they are and what I am,” Ne-Yo states. “That it’s a very tangible and real bridge, and attainable bridge. It starts with being a student and waking up and getting to school on time, making sure that you’re alert and paying attention to what’s going on in the classroom, and then it goes from there, possibly into college.”
‘The Cracks in Mr Perfect’ creator went on explain the tools needed to succeed. “Once you figure out what you’re supposed to be in life, the things that are embedded in you while you’re in school — understanding that hard works gets you any and everything that you want — these are the tools that you’re supposed to use to get to where I am,” Ne-Yo says. “Me being here at this school, showing the kids who possibly want to become a songwriter, who want to become an entertainer, whatever the case may be, me telling them, ‘Listen, I was at you at your age, and the only difference between me and you now is I worked hard to get to where I am.’ [It’s important to tell them], ‘You can do the same thing.'”
Last month, Get Schooled launched another national challenge focused on a key milestone related to students’ likelihood of success in college: completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Details are at www.getschooled.com
See Photos of Singers Without Makeup
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