Credit: Fort Worth Weekly

Como Elementary in Forth Worth, Texas has long been an elementary school fighting an uphill battle. Many of the students come from low-economic housing, single parent homes, or a rough living situation. The environment many of these children were living in plummeted the school’s rating to an F—until a group of teachers decided to find a way to connect with their students. Their tool? The power of music.

Together, the staff at Como Elementary wrote and recorded music videos of their children empowering one another, learning, and rising above society’s standards. Ellen DeGeneres, floored by the talent of these inspiring students, invited Thomas Mayfield (a math teacher at Como), Tamika McGee (the school counselor), and Valencia Ryan (the school principal) to talk about the wonderful things these students have achieved.

Principal Ryan says that she chose to work at Como Elementary because she “loves working for underdogs,” and because she was once in their shoes—as were Mr. Mayfield and Ms. McGee. A lot of these children, many of whom are minorities, are faced with the stigma that they will not amount to anything, and Principal Ryan strives to prove them wrong. In just four years, the school has gone from an F rated to a B rated school—an massive improvement that the teachers struggled and fought for.

In a heartfelt video, the children of this elementary school relay how their teachers and faculty have become massive parts of their lives—almost acting as second parents to them—and have taught them that they can succeed. In a live video, Ellen’s staff connected the faculty with their students. Here, Ellen announced that, partnered with Cheerios, she would donate $20,000 to the school pantry, as well as $30,000 from Box Tops for Education for other school supplies.