One Atlanta teacher’s first day of school went viral after delivering a superior performance of a Busta Rhymes rap, which the hip-hop icon himself couldn’t help but applaud.
In a video posted to her Instagram, Kim Bearden, co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit middle school Ron Clark Academy, who also works as a language arts teacher, performed a censored version of Rhymes’s verse from Chris Brown’s 2011 track “Look At Me Now,” which also features Lil Wayne.
Bearden’s skills were evident in the video, as a roaring crowd of students, teachers and their families, all of whom were there for the first hour of the day to celebrate the school year’s official kickoff on Aug. 31, cheered her on.
“The first day of school always starts with a celebration, and I accepted a little challenge,” Bearden captioned her video, which went viral after it was reposted by The Shade Room, garnering over 7 million views and more than 400,000 likes on Instagram. “Grateful to kick off my 37th year of teaching surrounded by love.”
Bearden tells Yahoo Entertainment that the kickoff celebration has been an annual tradition since the school first opene 17 years ago. But this year, in particular, was unique: Less then 24 hours after posting the video, she says, it brought a surge of traffic to the school’s website, causing its server to crash.
“Our website crashed!” she said. “So many people went to the website to learn more about our school: What else do they do? Who are these people? I’ve been overwhelmed with beautiful messages.”
That includes a special shoutout from Rhymes himself, whose latest song, “Luxury Life” featuring Coi Leray, which was produced by Rhymes and Swizz Beatz, dropped Friday.
In a statement to Yahoo Entertainment, Rhymes applauds Bearden and the school’s staff for spreading positivity through music and the arts.
“I watched the video and it felt great to see Kim Bearden really bodying the challenge,” he says of his notoriously difficult, fast-paced raps. “It feels great to know that people across generations still love the music.”
The idea to perform the rap came from a former student who encouraged Bearden to go big for this year’s kickoff.
“I worked on it for two weeks,” she says. “I just kept replaying it over and over again, on my way to work in the car. Once I knew the words, it just came easy. I’ve always been a very fast-talker, so it was very well-suited for me.”
Despite the attention the Ron Clark Academy has gotten from the video, Bearden says her life mission is not to go viral, but to make learning fun.
That’s a message echoed by Rhymes, who acknowledges the influence teachers like Bearden have on their students.
“My advice to the kids is to keep following your dreams, stay in school, stay focused, do good by all people and good will come to you,” he says.