Random Acts of Kindness: Q&A with KIPP DC - Arts and Technology PCS Educator, Azel Prather Jr.
In 2019, Mr. Prather went viral for developing a ‘self-care’ day for students where local barbers, hair stylists, and nail techs in the District came together in his classroom to pamper his kindergarten students.
Since then, Mr. Prather has continued to showcase innovation and #RandomActsofKindness through his virtual dance parties and transforming popular songs to be ways of teaching students. On Wednesday, February 16, he shared details and insight into his idea(s) of #RandomActsofKindness with his students. Read the Q&A interview below.
Q: You were first introduced to the world after a viral video in 2019 showed you creating a self-care day for 40 of your Kindergarten students. What inspired you to create that kind of environment for them and why was it important?
Answer: I encourage my students all the time to do something for someone else. I’ve invited a couple of [students] to outside events where they can see and contribute to some of the work my nonprofit foundation does [in the community]. [My students] get the chance to actually be a part of what we do to serve our community.
Q: Can you give us an example of something you’ve done to empower your students to adopt a ‘random acts of kindness’ mindset where they find ways to be kind in their daily lives?
Answer: I know kids love music. It’s a great learning tool. They can recite a lot of songs. Some of the songs they have no idea what they’re saying but they sing it word for word. I did the same things and now I want to be the change. The plan was to give them music they would normally listen to, but put something they can learn in it. Something that can stick. It's catchy enough where you’ll keep saying it and sounds good enough where parents can listen to it without being annoyed. I call it hiding the medicine in the candy. And representation matters. When they see me they should see themselves. Check it out on all platforms @MoveWithMrPrather
Q: You released “Move With Mr. Prather” an educational hip-hop album that teaches students everything from how to count to 100 to why it’s important to have manners – what was the inspiration behind the album?
Answer: It’s an everyday thing for us to show random acts of kindness. I teach them about a different Black figure weekly and give them insight on what those people may have done to better our community. Kindness is something I want to be a part of their daily routine, not just something they do here and there. I know it's sticking when they come find me to let me know what they did to help someone else. [Like] giving up a spot in class that your friend wanted, helping mom out at home. It's the simple little things.
Q: What’s a random act of kindness that you or your students performed during this month that you’d like to share with us? Why did you all choose to do this? How do you have your students reflect on what it feels like to perform their acts of kindness and how being kind affects their lives and those around them?
Answer: I have a no profit organization, The Prather Foundation, where we focus on serving underserved communities through education services as well as mental and physical health initiatives. We’ve been able to serve more than 5,000 kids and the plan is to reach as many children as possible. Letting them know that people who they may not know cares about them and their families well-being. For more info on volunteering, upcoming initiatives, and ways to donate, visit www.thepratherfoundation.org.