As the school year draws to a close, chances are you’re busy with end-of-year performances, ordering items to check off the summer camp packing list, and finalizing vacation and childcare arrangements.
But before school’s officially out for summer, please be sure to properly thank your child’s teachers. In addition to, you know, caring for and educating your kid, a teacher may have touched your child’s life in ways you may not even know.
Take the story of one Brooklyn boy, Shawn Carter — who’s better known these days as Jay-Z (and/or Beyoncé’s husband). As a sixth grader at I.S. 318 in Williamsburg, he formed a deep connection with his teacher, Renee Rosenblum-Lowden.
As the rapper and mogul recently told David Letterman on his Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, “Ms. Lowden,” as he calls her, helped inspire “my love of words.”
Rosenblum-Lowden, 77, recalls “Shawn” as being a bright, quiet kid. “The thing I remember about Shawn is he took the reading test and he scored 12th grade in the sixth grade,” Rosenblum-Lowden told the Washington Post, after the Letterman interview aired in April. “And I remember telling him — because I really feel it’s important to tell kids they’re smart — I said, ‘You’re smart, you better do well.’ And he listened.”
Jay-Z has talked to the media about Rosenblum-Lowden on numerous occasions. In 2010, he told Forbes about a time his teacher brought him and some other kids to her apartment: “My neighborhood had been my world,” he said. “It’s the only thing I had seen. I saw a whole different world that day, and my imagination grew from there. I wanted that. I aspired to have that. The small things. She had an ice thing on her refrigerator. You know, you push it and the ice and the water comes down. I was really amazed by that. I was like, I want one of those.”
(Chances are, these days Jay-Z he has several “amazing” refrigerators: His net worth is $810 million.)
In the Letterman interview, Jay-Z recounts the incident with Rosenblum-Lowden’s refrigerator. Moreover, he said, “we need to pay our teachers more.”
Header image via Mikael ‘Mika’ Väisänen