Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Secret Lives Of Teachers: 'Bored Of Education'

The NPR Ed team is discovering what teachers do when they're not teaching. Artist? Carpenter? Quidditch player? Explore our Secret Lives of Teachers series.

You're a sixth-grader in New York City. Your principal gives you a choice: Get free tickets to a Columbia University football game, or participate in a music video in which your assistant principal is the lead singer.

The 66 fifth- and sixth-graders who chose to sing, dance and act are glad they did: The video, featuring the song "Bored of Education," amassed more than 15,000 views in the first weeks it was posted. Here it is:

The video's main act, rapper I.C. Will, is indeed Ian Willey, the assistant principal at KIPP Washington Heights Middle School.

/ "Bored of Education" music video
"Bored of Education" music video

The son of two ministers, Willey started rapping when he was 12. Growing up, his family moved around, finally settling in Louisville, Ky., a place where, Willey says, "I could be a white rapper and it wasn't that weird."

As a first-year teacher with Teach for America, Willey wrote and rapped when he could squeeze it in, keeping it separate from his life in the classroom.

"I never talked a whole lot about the fact that I was rapping on the side, unless it was relevant in class," Willey says. "It didn't seem that important to the work we were doing in the school."

But a group of filmmakers in Brooklyn disagreed. In 2011 they made ashort film about Willey and his double life. Seeing the film made Willey reconsider the distance he had created.

"I started feeling more comfortable sharing it. I saw that kids can actually be inspired by this," he says. "And the pieces finally fit together."

Tell us about the Secret Lives of Teachers – maybe your own or a teacher you know. Or post your own Secret Life on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at #secretteachers. We're on Twitter at @npr_ed. Our Facebook page is here or you can drop us an email at

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Elissa Nadworny reports on all things college for NPR, following big stories like unprecedented enrollment declines, college affordability, the student debt crisis and workforce training. During the 2020-2021 academic year, she traveled to dozens of campuses to document what it was like to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. Her work has won several awards including a 2020 Gracie Award for a story about student parents in college, a 2018 James Beard Award for a story about the Chinese-American population in the Mississippi Delta and a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in innovation.