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Tony Anderson is not just a doctoral alumnus and supplemental faculty member at CEHD, not just an administrator at an ambitious Philadelphia charter school, but also a hip-hop impresario. The artists he manages are teens who were at risk of dropping out of school until they encountered Anderson.

Growing up in a troubled neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio, Anderson says he was blessed with an exceptional mentor, who ran a program called the Self Esteem Team. Alfred Ray used critical-thinking games, music and other unconventional techniques to motivate and challenge disadvantaged youths. His Self Esteem Team not only helped Anderson stay on track, he says, but also inspired him to combine music and education to help other youngsters.

After receiving an undergraduate degree in music from Xavier University, Anderson headed to Florida State University to obtain a master’s degree in education. While student teaching there, he was asked to help a class of behaviorally challenged youngsters and decided to incorporate hip-hop music into the curriculum to motivate and educate them. The program had such successful results, it caught the eye of Shuaib Meacham, an associate professor of education at UD.

Working with Anderson, the students began to compose and perform hip-hop music that addressed the complex issues and challenges they were facing. Suddenly, these previously disenfranchised middle school students became engaged and motivated, Meacham says. They were going to class and paying attention.

Read more of Hip Hop Strikes a Chord in the 2012 Spring UD Messenger.   

“Tony changed my whole perspective in life,” says Mike Jaggerr, a Bassline student who now has a career writing and producing his own music and videos. “Growing up without a father in the home, it felt like I was continually searching for something or someone to lead me. Then, in eighth grade, I met Tony. He understood me, my particular background and how that affected my scholastic endeavors. He taught me how to lead. Once I realized that I had that power, I haven’t looked back.”