This singing principal of viral video fame needs college students to know they’re cherished. A name from Oprah can be good, too.


Daily throughout morning bulletins, Marcus Gause, principal of T. Wingate Andrews Excessive Faculty in Excessive Level, N.C., reminds his college students that they’re cherished. On commencement day final month, he reiterated that message.

The graduates heard it, and so they weren’t the one ones.

Gause’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You” — a ballad made well-known by the likes of Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston — despatched chills, cheers, and tears via the gang. A video of his pitch-perfect efficiency went viral, with hundreds of thousands of views on social media, and reward from hip-hop artists, together with Diddy.

Gause had serenaded college students at expertise exhibits and senior banquets, however solely now could be he getting worldwide recognition. These days, he’s been requested to sing at skilled sporting occasions and pageants. And he goals of performing at some point alongside his musical idols, reminiscent of Fantasia or John Legend, or getting a name from Oprah.

“My children can be so impressed,” mentioned Gause, who spoke not too long ago with Chalkbeat about main a highschool via COVID, instructing his college students to imagine in themselves, and why he thinks his commencement efficiency resonated so broadly.

This interview has been flippantly edited for size and readability.

What has this previous yr appeared like for you? How have you ever supported your college students and employees throughout these unprecedented occasions?

I imagine there’s a sixth sense to educating that involves mild from our interactions with college students. Not being of their presence took away our skill to affect them as we did beforehand. For instance, we’d know when a pupil was having a troublesome morning by their physique language or facial features once they first entered the constructing. The pandemic made that extraordinarily difficult to do. To get via it, we had a number of “Enjoyable Fridays” the place we logged on to our studying administration system and went stay on our social media platforms to have dance events and competitions, digital awards ceremonies, video games, train, and wellness check-ins. We facilitated meals drop-offs and pickups for college students and households experiencing meals insecurities. My employees and I additionally carried out porch conferences the place we went to the house and held social distanced conferences for college students who weren’t logging on to their lessons frequently.

Why did you determine to sing to your college students — and the way did you select that exact track? What do you hope the lyrics conveyed to graduates?

4 years in the past, I heard so many unfavourable issues about Andrews Excessive Faculty. I met with your complete faculty and was very clear about what I had heard and challenged them to imagine that we have been higher than that. The phrase “imagine” grew to become our motto and helped us to remodel the varsity tradition. My private perception was that love is the reply to all conditions, so each day, I might finish bulletins with: “Guys, if nobody has instructed you that they love you right now, it’s certainly my privilege and my pleasure to be the primary to let you already know that somebody loves you in Purple Raider Nation and that anyone is me!”

Throughout my first yr as principal, a pupil requested me what they wanted to do to grow to be valedictorian, and I defined to her that she was ranked No. 10 and would want to maintain working arduous. She believed she may, and so she did. She grew to become our Class of 2021 valedictorian. When it got here down to picking the track for commencement, I needed it to embody our beliefs, the love we’ve got for each other, and after having misplaced a lot because of the pandemic, a track that may categorical how I needed their future to go. After I couldn’t determine on the track, I allowed the valedictorian to decide on as a result of she was the proof and an instance of what occurs if you happen to merely imagine!

Why do you assume the video resonated with so many individuals?

I feel the pandemic took loads from folks, however I feel it additionally allowed us time to reprioritize issues of significance. A kind of was love — each giving it and receiving it. I feel that it was so properly acquired as a result of it was expressing genuine love that retains us all going!

You may have fairly a voice. Did you ever contemplate turning into an expert vocalist?

I’ve thought of it however by no means actually pursued it. I truly tried out for “Sunday Best” in Chicago years in the past however solely made it to the second spherical. Now, it appears to be like like I would nonetheless have an opportunity to stay out that dream.

Inform us about your individual expertise with faculty and the way it impacts your work right now.

I’ve consideration deficit dysfunction and was not identified till faculty, which I barely had the grades for. Whereas I needed to carry out properly, I lacked focus. Personally, my dad and mom have been divorcing throughout my center and highschool years, in order that was arduous. In class, I used to be at all times doing issues I had no enterprise doing, however I had one trainer that cherished me sufficient to not take any junk. She was robust, however it was apparent that she cared about me. Her title is Mrs. Jeanette Mintz, and I attempt to be that sort of affection I wanted and acquired from her throughout that point. My objective earlier than instruction is to make it possible for each pupil and employees member feels cherished and appreciated each day!

What’s one of the best recommendation you ever acquired — and the way have you ever put it into motion?

My father as soon as instructed me that typically you must take the step even once you don’t see the staircase. Meaning there are occasions in life the place it doesn’t make sense, however you must have the religion to offer it a attempt. Generally the obstacles in training appear insurmountable, but when I sit again and do nothing, I do know what the result might be. Nonetheless, if I take the proverbial step of religion and check out one thing, the probabilities are limitless. I attempt to love with out limits, and I set out each day to attain what could appear not possible!

What’s one factor you’ve learn that has made you a greater educator?

I feel that turning into a greater educator entails turning into a greater you! I not too long ago learn a e book titled “Do It Once more” by Cammie J. Cummings. The e book jogged my memory that I used to be made for this and to not get defeated however somewhat to embrace the problem of dreaming once more — this time greater and higher than earlier than! Whereas I like what I do, it’s not void of difficult days and conditions. On my worst days, I solely have to easily imagine once more! A modified thoughts modifications outcomes and locations.

Any summer season plans that you just’re keen to share?

This summer season has already been extraordinarily eventful. I’ve been honored to carry out at a nationwide dance competitors, Excessive Level Rockers baseball recreation, and the Miss North Carolina pageant! I might be doing a PBS interview in August and hope to be finalizing some out-of-state performances within the subsequent few weeks. I might like to sing with a few of my favorites, like Fantasia, John Legend, Chris Stapleton, and Kirk Franklin. This summer season can be much more superb if I received a name from Tyler Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Oprah! My children can be so impressed!

I like four-wheeling, so my household and I plan to do lots of that this summer season.

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