DENVER – On Tuesday, students and teachers at College View Elementary School in Denver spent the day dancing and singing with world-renowned guitarist Kellindo Parker.
Kellindo has performed all over the world with some of the biggest names in music, but elementary school students are by far his favorite audience.
“It’s a dream, really. It looks like a Beatles concert, ”Kellindo said.
A connection to Kellindo’s past and a current academic need is what brought the musician to College View.
“Kellindo and I met years ago when I was living in New York City,” said Angela Govig, senior team leader at Denver Public Schools and a fifth-grade literacy teacher. “And last year we as a school had to come up with a black excellence plan to support our black students… I contacted him and asked him if he wanted to be a virtual mentor for our students. and he said yes. “
Govig said many DPS elementary schools do not have black teachers, and the district is particularly lacking in black male educators.
“I’ve always known that if a black student in elementary school has only one black teacher, they are much more likely to graduate from high school and go to college,” Govig said.
Now Kellindo visits classrooms in person and while playing some of their favorite tunes he also helps answer students’ many questions about life.
“Have you ever experienced anything really difficult in your life? Asked 5th grade student Rayan Maalim.
He said yes and shared his own challenges when he was growing up.
“I remember being one of the only black students in my entire school,” Kellindo said. “I know if I had had what they have, a mentor, when I was their age, I would be even better today.”
After hearing that several DPS schools did not have black teachers, Kellindo said he knew he had to intervene.
“What I want to do is help change that. It’s time for a change, as President Clinton said, ”Kellindo said.
Kellindo has performed for Presidents in the White House a few times.
During his 16 years playing guitar for R&B singer Janelle Monáe, he performed with Prince, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars.
But Kellindo said there is nothing quite like being in front of a crowd of elementary school students.
“They are very honest and to see their honest reaction being so positive… it made my life actually,” Kellindo said.
Kellindo said if the students get anything out of these jam sessions, he hopes it’s the courage to be themselves.
“I want them to hold onto… what they can do and be who they want to be,” Kellindo said.
Govig said Kellindo also helps facilitate diversity and inclusion training for teachers.
While his home is in Dallas, he plans to travel to Denver on a regular basis.
Kellindo will perform on Sunday, September 26 at 6:30 pm at restaurant and bar number 38. The show is free.