PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — To say Shawnee Mission East economics teacher David Muhammad is different would be an understatement.
“Having such a diverse teacher is very unique. Not a lot of kids are able to say they’ve got an African-American, Muslim, rapping, karate teacher. I think that’s pretty cool,” Jones Goldman, a sophomore in Muhammad’s class, said.
“You can’t really compare him to other teachers because he is more of a friend than a teacher. He makes sure you understand and also makes sure that you have fun,” Gracie Kost, a sophomore at Shawnee Mission East, said.
Muhammad’s uniqueness was shaped from a very young age growing up in his father’s karate studio.
“I really have to say I got it from my father. I grew up around martial arts and my father has been the type of instructor that was community minded, community based, so growing up that’s what I knew. So growing up that’s what influenced my idea of getting into education,” Muhammad said.
That influence has pushed Muhammad to not only become a one-of-a-kind teacher but a one-of-a-kind person. He is a member of the United States Karate team and is ranked number-one in the country in his weight class.
“I’m humbled by what it’s brought me and the knowledge I’ve acquired from it. I’m just hoping I can give it back to the students that I teach,” he said.
He is also gifted on the mic. Muhammad, who raps under the name Brotha Newz, released his first rap album entitled “The Hanging Trees” in December of 2016.
“I wanted to do something that could spread to more ears because, in my opinion, the music is just an extension of teaching. And I can only reach 160 kids a day so I felt like the music might vibrate out to more people,” Muhammad said.
But more importantly, he is a husband and a father and hopes the example he sets for his family and students will radiate throughout their lives long after they leave his classroom.
“Hopefully they are inspired by seeing me exhaust myself because a lot of times I am inspired by them and watching them exhaust themselves. I pray that everything I do makes me a better teacher in the classroom and more relatable and more human,” Muhammad said.
It’s a life lesson that has already stuck for some of his students.
“He really inspires me to want to do more with my life,” Kost said.