Drums, tambourines, congos, cabasas, and bongos often make a guest appearance in Dion Lucas’ classroom. Growing up under her mom’s dedication and passion for music and teaching, she said she hopes to continue passing down that love for learning to the next generation in her Proximity Learning online classes.
“I've been playing drums for over 25 years, so I incorporate a lot of music into my math lesson plans just like my mom,” said Lucas, a Proximity Learning math teacher.
Whether it’s through transforming nursery rhymes or raps into math lessons, Lucas’ love for music helps her instruction be more engaging and memorable for her students.
Lucas said she found her start with drumming when she played trumpet in middle school. During band class, she sat near the drumline and gradually fell in love with the rhythm.
“It wasn't very popular for girls to play drums, and so I had to tell my parents, ‘All I do is think of drumming, so I think I should be a drummer, not a trumpeter,’” Lucas said. “So I saved up my money to show how serious I was about buying my first drum set. … My parents still have my first drum set in their basement in St. Louis.”
While Lucas said she loves reading and writing, her preferred way to express emotion has always been through the rhythm of drumming.
“It was just, you speak in a rhythm, you talk in the rhythm, your heart beats to a rhythm,” Lucas said, “and it's just so soothing that sometimes if I want to express how my day went, I just get my drum pad … and then that expressiveness just comes out of me.”
Lucas’ love for drumming doesn’t show up in just her teaching. Additionally, she enjoys providing wellness coaching and music therapy in her community by helping family, friends, and students meet their physical and mental needs.
“I found … a lot of times students like to work with music in the background,” she said. “It helps with memory, it helps reduce agitation. … So, it's very therapeutic. I find music therapy to help a lot of students.”
In stressful testing environments, Lucas said her math songs help students process information when they sing it in their head step-by-step. By supporting her students in their success in and out of the classroom, she said she can help them move forward and become more productive.
Lucas has been teaching mathematics for over 15 years, but recently moved online with Proximity Learning when she said her job began getting in the way of her being able to spend enough time with her family.
“I needed a change,” Lucas said. “So going into this new year, this new decade, I reached out to teach virtually so I can work from home [and] spend more time with my family. The invitation came out to join Proximity, and I accepted that, and I'm so grateful to be a part.”
When asked in school what she wanted to be when she grew up, Lucas knew she wanted her answer to be something she enjoyed doing. If she could get paid to do it, she said that was just a bonus on top of being able to share her love for music and education with students,
“I really enjoy learning and being part of school, so I became an educator,” Lucas said. “My parents are educators, my grandparents are educators, my cousins, so they really instilled [paying] it forward to the next generation.”