Headshot of Sekou AndrewsSekou Andrews is an elementary school teacher turned actor, musician, national poetry slam champion, entrepreneur, and now award-winning Poetic Voice, who has performed pieces for President Obama and many others. In February, he’ll be a Thought Leader at the Ignite ’16 conference. In this month’s questionnaire, we asked him about his company, Sekou World; motivating teachers; and his favorite comedians.

What motivated you to start your company?

I wasn’t actually motivated to start Sekou World, the company. I was motivated to create Poetic Voice, the speaking category. That came from discovering the two missions that were driving everything I pursued. One was to create a commercially viable industry for the art of spoken-word poetry that offers new ways in mainstream media for poets to make a purposeful and profitable living from their art. The other was to help people and organizations find their voices and tell their most powerful stories. 

How can NASSP give a poetic voice to its mission?

Well, you’ve already taken the first step … you’ve partnered with me. Your job is to receive your story in a new way and let it ignite and empower new possibilities within your organization and its individuals.

What’s the best way for a principal to motivate a teacher?

No two classrooms are the same, so the teacher who is trying to adapt, improve, and respond to the ever-changing environment is motivated by having a 360-degree leader—one who is behind her for support, beside her in the trenches, and ahead of her leading the way and clearing the path.

What is one thing would you change about education in the United States?

I would reinvest in the creative arts and STEM. Technology is changing every industry that these kids will join as adults. As I say in my poem “The Music Movement”: “Millions more graduation caps will be gained, when the sweet sound of success is a high school band playing.” (Oh, and I’d pay teachers waaaay more!)

Who’s your favorite comedian?

There are a few new faves like Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart, but my favorite of all time goes to Richard Pryor.

What makes you smile?

Chocolate chip cookies, love, incredible writing (poems, prose, lyrics), smiling babies, God’s awesomeness, Will Ferrell movies, making a difference, fun audiences, “me” time … did I say cookies already?

What’s your favorite song?

Aw c’mon! Just one? Seriously? OK, if I take no breaths and put no spaces between them, then I think that should count as one song. (English teachers, I apologize in advance.) Here goes … TheDaybyTheRootsandLivingAgainbyCeeLoGreenandKeepLookingbySadeandMakeYouFeelThatWaybyBlackaliciousandalmostanythingbyPrince. (Whew!)