When Daisy Delacruz saw a former state teacher of the year talk about his Rappin’ Mathematician music at a local education conference, she realized right away that she wanted to turn his songs into a show for the children in her after-school program.
“The way he used music to make the math so fun and understandable, I just knew it had to be a musical,” said Delacruz, who leads before- and after-school programs at Chet F. Harritt School in Santee.
The result, called “Alex in Mathland” is based on songs teacher Alex Kajitani wrote to help his students understand math along with the storyline from “Alice in Wonderland.” Kajitani released a couple of CDs with his tunes in 2007. Two years later, he was named California Teacher of the Year. Now, he travels the country training and motivating teachers.
Kajitani said he was happy to see his work turned into a musical, which will help it reach more students.
“These students are like so many I’ve taught, they just light up when they see how math relates to their real lives,” he said. “However they use them, if my songs get students excited about math and active in their learning, I’m just thrilled.”
Students in kindergarten through eighth grade will perform the musical at 3:30 and 5:15 p.m. June 5 at Chet F. Harritt School, 8120 Arlette Street. The 30-45-minute performance features children who are involved in Project SAFE, Santee School District’s before- and after-school program.
“They all know the math now, and they sing the songs to their friends who learn it too,” Delacruz said.
Delacruz, who has a background in performing arts, has directed an after school drama club for six years and produced her first musical for students last year. That play, called Space School Musical featured a science-themed story. It was so well-received that the students were asked to perform it at the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering.
Making the connection between science and math curriculum and the arts is eye-opening for many students, Delacruz said.
“When I did ‘Space School Musical’ with the kids, they were coming up to me and telling me songs from the musical were helping them understand concepts in science class,” she said. “I realized I wished I had this when I was in school – music to learn these concepts – and I wanted to do more of it.”