Mr. Irons’ Story

“I’m inspired daily by the kids I get to work with, by their joy and passion and resilience and desire to grow. It helps me be a better artist and a better person.” — GE Mr. Irons

I’m a musical theater writer from North Carolina who spent the last decade in New York City teaching and creating musicals. I’ve always had a passion for teaching and writing music and plays. After receiving my Masters in Fine Arts from NYU, I was fortunate to combine these interests while working with incredible arts education organizations in NYC. During this time, I was even able to design SongCorps a program for 4th and 5th grade boys that helped them build self-esteem through singing that I ran for four years in the South Bronx.

Billed as “a journey through American history in song,” SongCorps is a year-long, twice a week in-school class that begins with pre-Civil War spirituals, travels through the blues and protest music and rock and roll, and ends up with hip-hop. Along the way, students learn about the events and circumstances that led to the songs they sing, and we even write our own!

Over a year ago, I moved to Nashville taking the experience of SongCorps with me. I sought opportunities in education and Enriched caught my eye. I became a founding Guest Educator and through Enriched, discovered beautiful communities and opened the door to several other opportunities in charter schools. Through the school relationships that I fostered through Enriched, I was able to create RiseUp in Nashville – a program similar to SongCorps.

School can be challenging – even for people like me who have been supported at every turn. I feel a charge to give my time and talents to people who weren’t born into the same privileges that I was born into. I also now coach cross country at one school, teach music at another and still guest educate when I can to keep meeting the people who are reimagining education across the city.

I want to keep doing this work in Nashville.