While teachers across the country teether the line between owning weapons to protect students and protesting for better wages and supplies, educators’ impact on their scholars does not go unnoticed. An example of this impression can be seen with former sixth-grade teacher Renee Rosenblum-Lowden, whose lesson plans help to shape the lyrical mind of a precocious JAY-Z.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Rosenblum-Lowden remembers the “Breathe Easy” artist’s advanced reading level. “…he took the reading test and he scored 12th grade in the sixth grade,” she said. “And I remember telling him – because I really feel it’s important to tell kids they’re smart – I said, ‘You’re smart, you better do well.’ And he listened.”
Through her lesson plans that encouraged her I.S. 318 students to look up the definition of words like “loquacious,” Rosenblum-Lowden believes that’s when JAY-Z began to fall in love with words. The Brooklyn native also gave a nod to Rosenblum-Lowden during his widely-discussed David Letterman interview.
“One thing that I feel uncomfortable with is all the credit he gives me,” she said. “I don’t think I’m deserving of all that credit. He was super bright.” While the Maryland resident doesn’t want to take the praise for JAY-Z’s way with words, she said, “…it makes me feel great that I had a part, or that he feels I had a part in his love for words.”
As noted by the Post, JAY-Z credited his English teacher in a Teen People feature (1999) with helping to “turn my life around,” and partly opening up his eyes to the literary world.