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Teaching

Third-Grade Teacher Jasmine Merlette’s Classroom Video Goes Viral

It began as a way to help her third-grade Birmingham, Alabama, students prepare for a big math test. Then it went viral. The next thing she knew, this first-year corps member was on 'The Ellen Show.'

By Jesse Ratner

June 4, 2019

First-Year Corps Member on 'Ellen'

Jasmine Merlette's video of her students belting their version of "Old Town Road Remix" went viral. Then she was featured on 'The Ellen Show' and surprised with a $10,000 check by guest host Wanda Sykes.

TFA corps member Jasmine Merlette (Alabama ‘18) is living a dream that began with a creative solution for instilling confidence in her students.

One of her third-graders came to her recently, worried about the annual statewide math assessment test, and she needed a little reassurance. Jasmine told her, “You have no reason to fear. We've been practicing all year. You got this.” It’s the type of moment every corps member encounters in the classroom. And like so many, Jasmine saw an opportunity to build on it.

Together, the first-year teacher and her students recorded their pumped-up version of Billy Ray Cyrus and Lil Nas X’s hit “Old Town Road Remix.” Then Jasmine posted it on Facebook, where interest unexpectedly began to grow. When Lil Nas X retweeted it, the video suddenly reached a much wider audience--viewed more than 12 million times.

A few weeks later, Jasmine appeared on The Ellen Show, where guest host Wanda Sykes celebrated her creativity and leadership, and then presented her with a $10,000 check.

“That video is literally [the students] before the state test. So that was our energy going in there.” Jasmine said on the show. “How did they do?” Wanda asked.

Jasmine replied, beaming: “They did amazing. They did amazing.”