For certain people, teaching signals the end of their careers in their respective fields. Other people teach as a retirement plan, some people teach to make ends meet as they prepare to make big leaps in their career, and others find no other paths for their career. However, Stephen Ashford is among the few who has taught to inspire the next generation.
Stephen Ashford is a teacher based in The East Palo Alto Charter School in Palo Alto, California. He has been teaching for twenty-one years. Of the twenty-one years he has been teaching, Ashford has spent fourteen of them making positive music for the youth. He also helped the school develop their Instagram page (aspire.epacs) and added a little fun by featuring artists like Ice Cube, Jermaine Dupree, and Cedric the Entertainer.
When the global pandemic reached the shores of America, fear started to rise and people were panicking. Families sitting together over dinner and watching television could see how bad things were going to be and it became a subject in the classroom. Children were terrified, and although Ashford was too, he couldn’t show it to the children.
It didn’t take long for most schools to close up and transfer their schools online. Classes wouldn’t be the same anymore and most teachers had to find a way to keep classes interesting and educational. Like most teachers, Ashford had to transfer their lessons to Zoom. The new platform would prove to be difficult, but the enthusiastic musical teacher sought ways to keep things from going dull.
Stephen Ashford decided that the only way to keep the spirit alive was by creating fun activities for the children. He and his students created a cartoon character named Mr. Steve, who not only served as a means to keep the student’s attention but also acted as an educational tool. Ashford regularly uses Mr. Steve to help him with his lessons. He occasionally posts Mr. Steve’s videos on YouTube to provide the students with their activities of the week.
Apart from creating a character for his lessons, Ashford has also gotten creative during the pandemic. He has written and collaborated with author Bobby Mardis to create two books—Adventures with Mr. Steve & The Lost Year: (Covid-19, 2020) and Adventures with Mr. Steve & the Grasshopper.
As a teacher, Ashford loves to incorporate music into his routines. He recently released a song titled, “Girl Dad,” which features artists like Sisqo, Mistah Fab, Pizzo, Erase E, Lucii Dream, Hitta Slim, and Kontac. Girl Dad is featured on BET Jams and Amazon Prime Video. Ashford plans to follow up with a song dedicated to essential workers called, “Thank You, Mr. Steve.”
In these trying times, Stephen Ashford has managed to keep his students’ spirits positive. He is known to over 450 children for working hard and ensuring that they have a great experience. Ashford hopes to continue his work and teach the youth, create positive music, and write more books. Additionally, he is hoping to create a film based on his book series and winning a Grammy for Best Children’s Album.