School of rock

Elementary school counselor incorporates music into his lessons

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School of rock

David Young

Photo by: Dorothy Kozlowski

Banging on drums and rapping in front of a classroom full of fifth-graders wasn’t exactly what David Young had gone to college to do. But when a passion for music and a desire to teach collide, the sound is bound to be unique.

Young (EdS ’04) earned his bachelor’s degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass., and then worked at the Art Institute of Atlanta for eight years before completing his doctorate in education at UGA.

While at the Art Institute, a new passion for counseling was kindled.

“I worked with kids a lot at the art institute,” Young says. “I really wanted to help kids and work as a high school counselor.”

Young soon learned that the demand was high for elementary-level male counselors, so he took his interest there and started with an 18-month unpaid internship.

Now, he’s into his third year at Mountain Park Elementary in Lilburn, and the beat lives on in the classroom.

“I always tried to imagine myself as the fifth-grader sitting there,” says Young, remembering how boring counseling was when he was a kid.

“I started writing little raps and skits on the topics to fill the time, and kids started enjoying them.”

Since then, Young has published Skits and Raps for the School Counselor, is working on another book and even wrote a CD of counseling songs with the help of friends and family.

He uses the material to convey the meaning and importance behind his lessons in sharing, tolerance, bullying and more. He has even started a drum circle, another creative outlet for his students.

“Kids really enjoy getting up and acting in front of other kids,” he says.

Not only are the kids having fun, but their grades and behavior have improved.

“If kids are bored they’re not learning,” Young says. “There were no elementary school counselors when I was growing up. Hopefully kids can apply these lessons later on and flashback on these things that I teach them.”

Young’s music inspirations don’t end in the classroom. When he’s not singing in the school, Young can be found rocking with his son in their band, the Amazing Mongooses.

But it’s not just fun; it’s a part of his life. He remembers Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones preparing for a tour, saying that he was working hard but it was not hard work.

“I thought that was such a great line,” he says. “To get paid to do something you enjoy is just, wow.”