Darryl McKellar makes teaching look easy. Over 20 years in the classroom, the English teacher has mastered some of the job’s trickiest tasks. Today, he has a writing assignment for the 10th-graders in his second-period class, based on a short story they read, “The Lottery.” “When I say lottery, what do you think? Breanna, what do you think?” “Drama,” she says.
“Why drama?” McKellar asks.
“When you win a lot of money, it causes a lot of controversy,” she says.
“Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Who said it?” McKellar asks.
There’s some murmuring. It sounds familiar, but these kids weren’t around in the ’90s. “It’s … a rapper?” one student ventures.
“Wait,” McKellar says, launching into a pretty spot-on impression. “Uh huh, uh huh, baby baby.” The students laugh.
“Biggie Smalls!” a student says.
McKellar nods. “Notorious B.I.G. But he also says we can’t expect to change the world until we do what? Change who? Change yourself.”
He looks pleased with himself as the students pair up and dive into the assignment. “I’m like Batman,” he says. “I use every trick in my utility belt to get a kid to buy into education.” . . .