LaMar Queen had absolutely no intention of becoming a teacher when he enrolled in Grambling State University. Nor did he envision himself standing on the platform preparing to ring the opening bell for the New York Stock Exchange.
But the 26-year-old math instructor has done both in the last three years.
“It’s funny,” Queen said. “I was (majoring) in business (at Grambling) and changed to education in my junior year. Business was cool, but I felt like I wanted to do something that would have more impact on lives. A really good friend of mine suggested I become a teacher, because she knew how I would help my little cousins with their homework, when I came home on vacation. I took her advice.”
As a math teacher at Los Angeles Academy, Queen first impacted students with his personal style.
“My students called me Kanye West; at school everybody calls me that. It’s more the way I dress, shirt with tie and jeans. It’s my style, my dark skin and because I’m so young,” muses Queen.
“Eventually students started asking me if I knew how to rap,” the GSU graduate continued. “That night I went home and wrote a rap. I wrote a song called ‘Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally’ which is a song about the order of operations in algebra.
“From that moment, I became known as the rapping math teacher at school.”
As it became more popular, one of Queen’s colleagues, Martha Infante, asked him to perform at a holiday party and after hearing him decided to nominate him for the Get Schooled competition, which is a national education initiative help improve students’ performance in math and science.
“It really shocked me,” Queen revealed. “I didn’t even know about the nomination until she called me and told me that I had won. She just called and said, ‘Guess what, you are going to New York,’ and then told me about the whole competition.
“I really had to make the most of my trip,” he explained. “I rang the bell, met the CEO of Viacom, the CEO of the stock exchange. He also shot a video called “Percents.”
Queen says walking up to the podium was when the significance of the moment really hit him and he began to get nervous. “I’m really here, really about to ring the bell,” he thought. “I can’t really relate to it because it was so surreal. It still feels like a dream.”