DENVER — On Tuesday, students and teachers at College View Elementary School in Denver spent the day dancing and singing with world-famous guitarist Kellindo Parker.
Kellindo has played all over the world with some of the biggest names in music, but elementary school students are by far his favorite crowd.
“It’s a dream, it really is. It feels like a Beatles concert,” Kellindo said.
A connection from Kellindo’s past and a current school need are what brought the musician to College View.
“Kellindo and I met years ago when I lived in New York City,” said Angela Govig, Denver Public Schools senior team lead and fifth grade literacy teacher. “And last year, we, as a school, had to come up with a Black excellence plan to support our Black students… I reached out to him and asked if he would want to be a virtual mentor to our students and he said yes.”
Govig said many DPS elementary schools do not have Black teachers, and the district especially lacks Black male educators.
“I always knew that if a Black student in elementary school has one Black teacher, they’re much more likely to graduate from high school and attend college,” Govig said.
Now Kellindo is visiting classrooms in-person and while playing some of their favorite tunes, he also helps answer the students many questions about life.
“Have you ever been through anything really hard in your life?” asked 5th grade student Rayan Maalim.
He replied yes and shared his own challenges when he was growing up.
“I remember being one of the only Black students in my entire school,” Kellindo said. “I know that if I had had what they have, a mentor, when I was their age, I’d be even better off today.”
After hearing that several DPS schools don’t have any Black teachers, Kellindo said he knew he had to step in.
“What I want to do is help change that. It’s time for change, as President Clinton used to say,” Kellindo said.
Kellindo has performed for presidents at the White House on a few occasions.
During his 16 years playing guitar for R&B singer Janelle Monáe, he’s performed with Prince, Katy Perry, and Bruno Mars.
But Kellindo said there’s nothing like being in front of a crowd of elementary school students.
“They’re very honest and to see their honest reaction be so positive... it’s made my life actually,” Kellindo said.
Kellindo said if the students take anything away from these jam sessions, he hopes it’s the courage to be themselves.
“I want them to take away… that they can do and be anyone that they want to be,” Kellindo said.
Govig said Kellindo also helps facilitate diversity and inclusion training for teachers.
While his home is in Dallas, he plans to visit Denver regularly.
Kellindo will perform on Sunday, Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Number 38 Bar and Restaurant. The show is free.