Some people are superconductors insomuch as they seemingly never wear down from loss of energy. Dayton-area educator Kevin Cornell fits that description perfectly -- but most people know him simply as “Mister C”.
Cornell spent most his early years in Germany, where his father was stationed with the Air Force. At 16, his father was transferred to Wright-Patt, sending Kevin to Fairborn High School. After completing his undergrad and master’s work at Wright State, Cornell taught elementary education in the Huber Heights school district for seven years while also obtaining his Curriculum Instruction and Professional Development, principal and superintendent licenses.
“I went back and got all those things because my belief is you never know when an opportunity is going to present itself. So you have to prepare yourself for those things,” Cornell said.
He eventually moved on to work for Beavercreek City Schools as a curriculum supervisor before taking over as the director of the Dayton Regional STEM Center. But from the very moment he walked into his first classroom as a teacher, Cornell had more going on in his head besides science and math. He also had a beat, which gave him an idea.
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“When we are in a school setting, we have to play by the rules that are set forth by the state legislation,” the educator and drummer said. “You can still be creative and innovative and have a good time, and make sure that you’re teaching kids in an inspiring way.”
It started out as simply taking Christmas carols and replacing the lyrics with science and math principles. That grew into writing songs and making videos with his students. When Cornell posted the videos to his YouTube channel, the Mister C persona took off. The channel has nearly 6,000 subscribers with almost 2 million views so far.
“(Social media) is such a powerful tool, because I’m not just reaching my kids in my classroom, but thousands of kids every year,” Cornell explained.
He was also reaching parents and his fellow educators as well as ThinkTV (WPTD) and the PBS Network, both of which he’s since starred on.
Since being named Ohio’s Lead PBS Digital Innovator for 2016, Cornell recently decided to go independent and take his message and lessons wherever he’s needed -- both for kids and adults. This weekend he’ll be taking part in the PBS Digital Innovators Summit in San Antonio, Texas, where he’ll head up a team of like-minded educators who will write and record both a song and video.
From there Cornell is doing everything locally and nationally from public appearances at fairs, festivals and parades, to team-building exercises for businesses and even assuming the role of keynote speaker for a PBS convention in Cleveland this November.
But he says he will keep his primary focus on making learning fun for kids.
“I just don’t want to make a song about dancing. I want to make a song about mean, median and mode or the order of operations,” Cornell said. “I want to provide educational outreach opportunities for kids locally. It doesn’t matter where you live.”
What do you do?
I am an educator, and am excited to announce that this coming school year will be my first year working independently. I have used music, songs and videos to capture the imagination and curiosity of students and families. I produce fun educational content that is free and available on my website www.learningscienceisfun.com.
What superpower would you love to have?
Time control, specifically to slow it down! Life seems to be speeding up way too fast and there are so many amazing things/experiences/events that just fly by us each day that I want to slow down and enjoy!
What do you love about life in Dayton?
Dayton is such a cool town. There is so much to do: parks, concerts, food trucks, and great eats. You can always find something fun for the family, and maybe even come see Mister C at an event. My family and I love exploring all the parks in the area, biking, hiking, fossil hunting, kayaking, or geocaching.
What’s your favorite spot in Dayton?
Now that’s a tough question: I’d have to say...Marion’s Piazza! It’s always been a place to gather with my friends and family. Plus, who doesn’t love a great pizza!
Why did you decide to settle in Dayton?
Dayton quickly became home and it was obvious that I would start my own family here as well! I’ve been fortunate to take advantage of some of the greatest assets the region has to offer: getting a great education, working with amazing school districts and being a part of communities that truly value education.
How did you get involved with your line of work?
I have always enjoyed helping others learn, and knew that I wanted to be a teacher since I was a kid. It's absolutely the most rewarding profession in the world and allows you to have such a big impact. During my career, I've been a teacher, principal, curriculum supervisor and a director for various schools systems in the area.
If you could change or bring one thing to Dayton, would it be?
The only thing I would like to change would be to have the rest of my family in the area! Two of my five siblings live out of state. It would be so wonderful to have everyone closer.
What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?
Hold onto your socks, because I think Dayton is set to knock them off in the coming years! We are fortunate to have a rich history of innovation and hard work in Dayton. Look at what two brothers from Dayton did over a century ago -- invent the airplane! It’s fantastic to think that those same kids could have been our neighbors right here in the Miami Valley!