A sixth grade class in Milwaukee is bringing Black History month to life by recreating iconic book and album covers of the black authors and artist they're learning about.
Terrance Sims' students have taken the internet by storm with their creative cover homages to prominent black figures such as Michelle Obama, Malcolm X, Assata Shakur, and more.
The students picked their own costumes, did the styling, and posing all on their own. Sims snapped most of the photos (except for a few which he let a student interested in photography take) and then photoshopped them to look like the book covers. He said each image took around an hour to produce.
Student Brooklyn Jones who posed as Michelle Obama said, " It was inspiring to me and made me feel like I was stepping in her shoes. It made me want to learn more about her and inspired me to help out with [my] community."
For this year's project Sims told "Good Morning America" that the now-viral book cover recreations were the students' idea.
“I think it’s really important that we know who we are so that way we know how we’re supposed to exist in the community today. I think it’s very important that my kids are getting access to that at a young age,” Sims told GMA.
Everything that makes me happy now came from education, so if I can just be in the classroom and get people to love themselves and to love education - I really think the possibilities are limitless.
One of Sims' main goals throughout his viral projects is to figure out how to get the students to “love themselves and fall in love with the process of learning at the same time.” A theme that is woven into many of his projects and helps to bring up conversations of culture and identity in the classroom.
Sims is able to create deep connections with his students through his creative teaching styles and role as a mentor in their lives.
Sims and his students never expected to go viral with this project, and are know using this as an opportunity to get more students to join the book club. As for the staff of Milwaukee College Prep and the parents of the students, Sims says they willing rally around him for these projects because they trust his direction,“They see that I really put the focus on relationship building with the students and it’s not just for show. They like the fact that it’ll push their students further.” The kids are inspired by how far their story has reached and Sims says they’re bringing fresh eyes and more creative ideas to the table.
As for Sims, he just wants to “inspire his students to be great,” while continuing to find creative ways to make learning fun and impactful for his students. He is already noticing an uptick in his student’s energy and eagerness to learn about these essential topics. "Everything that makes me happy now came from education, so if I can just be in the classroom and get people to love themselves and to love education - I really think the possibilities are limitless."