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Poet, writing consultant brings ‘Rap, Rhythm and Rhyme’ to Black Educational Summit

Nationally-known poet and writer Eric Cork commanded students' respect during the "Rap, Rhythm and Rhyme" summit. (Photo from FCPS)

Nationally-known poet and writer Eric Cork commanded students’ respect during the “Rap, Rhythm and Rhyme” summit. (Photo from FCPS)

High energy is an understatement in describing Erik Cork and his Rap, Rhythm and Rhyme workshop. The passionate delivery of a nuts-and-bolts message from the nationally known poet and writing consultant inspired dozens of students at Lexington’s Black Educational Summit. Cork engaged youngsters from first grade through high school all day long with his interactive presentation on “Rebuilding the Writing Foundation.”
“He met the needs of the entire group. The energy in that performance was superb,” said Mary Finn, a retired teacher there with her grandson. “You can no longer stand in front of a class for 40 minutes and get their attention,” she noted.
The third annual summit, organized by the Interdenominational Pastoral Fellowship of Lexington and Vicinity, added the youth component this summer. “Anything that helps students with learning and growing, we want to explore those options,” said Pastor Nathl Moore of First African Baptist Church, chair of the group’s education committee. Afterward, he wondered aloud how they could top this first program.
Cork guided the students through his 45-page workbook, interspersing chants, challenges and cheers as they covered the power of a strong vocabulary and the importance of proper grammar, spelling tips, the eight parts of speech and different styles of writing. Absorbing musical examples ranging from “Dora the Explorer” to Beyonce, the youngsters stayed on board with the lessons and joined in on Cork’s choruses reinforcing the main points.
“Some children may not respond to a classical teaching mode, so you try Plan B or Plan C to see what works,” Cork said after his upbeat session. “When they see that you’re real, that’s what the kids respond to – the beauty of spontaneity.”
He would encourage educators to not be so locked in on their lesson plans that they cannot embrace the unscripted teachable moments in their classroom. “You have to be open to receive new insights on how to teach and establish a relationship before you can make the learning relevant,” he added.
Wrapping up the day, Cork reminded the students to always elaborate in their writing and to add flavor and seasoning to their compositions with colorful adjectives, adverbs and metaphors. Organizing their thoughts, sticking to the topic, varying word choices, avoiding careless errors and not settling for mediocrity will also serve them well, he said.
“You are heard on paper and it represents you in your absence,” Cork told the youngsters. “What makes your writing rise above? The relationship you have with words is the relationship you have with your voice.”
Jessica Cayson, who attends Bryan Station High School, especially appreciated Cork’s admonition to “talk green,” referring to money and earning potential.
“As a senior, I’ll try to increase my vocabulary in essays and on-demand writing,” Jessica said. “The more you seem educated, proper and intelligent, the more (scholarship and job) offers you’ll get. If you talk like you’re from the hood or the country, you won’t get those opportunities.”
Black Educational Summit
Parents, guardians and other caregivers attended the summit to learn how to better engage in their students’ success in school. The workshops at host Bryan Station covered anti-bullying strategies, special-needs advocacy, tips for grandparents, adolescent development, career readiness, technology support and digital literacy. Organizers also offered a couple more in-depth classes for participants attending their second or even third summit.
“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback. Smiles mean a lot, and we saw a lot of enthusiasm going from class to class,” Moore said. “We’re already talking about what we can do better next year.”

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