Chance the Rapper has long believed teachers have the most important job in the world. But like many parents, he’s felt his appreciation for educators deepen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These teachers are really helping us raise our kids,” he told HuffPost while promoting “The Twilight Awards” ― a special award show to honor teachers for the work they do. “And they’re doing it times 30 ― a bunch of people’s kids at once. That’s something you understand but don’t fully appreciate until you’re with your kids 24/7.”
The Chicago rapper has two daughters ― 4-year-old Kensli and 8-month-old Marli ― with his wife, Kirsten Corley Bennett. He said the new lockdown reality has been a bit chaotic at times (our phone interview included a few adorable interruptions from Kensli), but given his privileged position, he sees it as “a blessing” to be able to spend more time with his children and doesn’t complain.
“This uninterrupted daily in-and-out time with your family is just something that would’ve never existed outside this phenomenon,” he said. “I’ve been trying to figure out ways to get more time with my family, focus on finally getting a house, getting things out of storage, working out, all kinds of stuff that’s just been a goal or something you talk about. But now we’re just in it.”
The three-time Grammy winner said he’s enjoyed seeing his daughters grow every day. At 8 months, Marli has developed a strong interest in “trying to pick stuff out of the carpet and eat it,” he said, laughing. Kensli’s hobbies are a little more advanced.
“My oldest daughter is a super genius, and she also has an amazing singing voice. She’s very into science projects,” he added, noting that they have sea monkeys and recently invested in a butterfly-growing kit with live caterpillars. Keeping in theme, the dad said he’s had fun reading Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to her during this time as well.
Chance has also come to appreciate the role that schools and teachers play in keeping kids safe and giving parents the opportunity to focus on other parts of their lives during the work day.
“If I’m awake and working at home or enjoying myself at all for a minute, I have to stop and think, ‘Wait, my kids could be in danger … or endangering us,’” he joked. “It’s like, ‘Yo, when does school start back?’”
“The Twilight Awards” is a way for people to recognize and thank teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. The rapper and his nonprofit SocialWorks first conceived of the idea in 2017 while working to raise funds for Chicago public schools, and earlier this year, they partnered with General Mills and Box Tops for Education to bring the idea to life.
Although the pandemic halted that planning process, it also presented an opportunity for a “soft launch” of sorts with an Instagram version. There will be three live broadcasts (May 6, 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. Central), during which Chance will surprise teachers across the country with supplies, donations and accolades.
“These teachers have had to adapt so fast in terms of remote learning and providing parents with activities and lesson plans for their kids,” he said. “And being one of the most criminally underpaid jobs in America, I feel like they’re going to be some of the people that are hit the hardest by this global crisis. This pandemic is crazy, and I think right now we just need to show appreciation for people and give them financial help.”