Keziah Finney

Mrs. Finney was born in Chester, Pennsylvania and moved to New Castle, Delaware at a young age with her mother, father and four older brothers. She grew up in a musical family and spent years in her family church choir gaining her first experience sharing her voice through music in front of a large crowd. She loved teaching from a young age and knew she wanted to be a teacher since elementary school. Growing up with many siblings and cousins being rappers and music producers, she gravitated towards hip-hop music and performed as a rapper in many talent shows while growing up. In 1998, she graduated from William Penn High School. She completed her undergraduate degree in 2002 with a Bachelor’s in Biology from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Upon graduation, she started her teaching career in Chester, Pennsylvania at Village Charter School. Diving into her love of teaching , she returned to college and received her Master’s of Education from Wilmington University. Over the past 18 years, she has taught middle school math and science and various middle schools in Chester, Pennsylvania and in Wilmington, New Castle and Hockessin, Delaware.

As an artist and educator, Mrs. Finney noticed early on in her teaching career how quickly students memorized and recited hip-hop songs throughout the school day. While her students walked in the hallways, socialized in the school cafeteria or completed class work, she would find many of them rapping popular hip hop songs or even creating their own lyrics. These moments led to reflection on her own similar experiences with hip-hop when she attended grade school. When introducing math lessons to her class in the traditional fashion, she would see a disconnect in her students. Eager to have her students engaged in the lesson as well as increase their level of comprehension, Mrs. Finney started creating lyrics that explained the math content she was hired to teach. When she shared the lesson lyrically, her students lit up! Their excitement for learning increased and so did their level of comprehension. Administrators, teachers, parents, students and community members expressed their appreciation for Mrs. Finney’s ability to tailor the curriculum to meet the needs of her students. This made for a more rewarding and memorable classroom experience.

Mrs. Finney expanded her ability to teach more students through music when she met her husband, James Finney. With his undergraduate degree in Studio Production and Digital Filmmaking and Master’s in Applied Technology in Education, Mr. and Mr. Finney combined their passion for education and disciplines to create Lyrical Math. With this edutainment program, Mrs. Finney created two CDs that teach basic math skills through hip-hop music. To compliment the first CD, the program includes a student workbook, teacher guidebook, resource assessment book, digital video series, digital album, track tutorials, music videos and more. Mrs. Finney has enjoyed teaching Lyrical Math in summer and after-school programs, providing professional development for teachers and performing at many community and school events. In March of 2020, she became Teacher of the Year for H.B. duPont Middle School. Following this surprising accomplishment, Senator Chris Coons made a personal visit to her classroom with a news crew to acknowledge me as Teacher of the Year, thank me for my innovative way of teaching through hip-hop music and deliver a letter of appreciation. In May of 2020, she was selected as one of four semi-finalist for District Teacher of the Year for Red Clay Consolidated School.

In response to the educational concerns due to COVID-19, she came up with the idea Pop-Up Math Class. She created outdoor classrooms and taught basic math skills in highly engaging 30 minute math lessons through her Lyrical Math music. With a microphone, generator, two whiteboards and teaching materials, she started teaching at New Castle County Parks. Pop-Up Math Class provided a fun and engaging way for families to help their children learn basic math skills while following social distancing guidelines. Through this initiative, she received a partnership with New Castle County Parks and Recreation and the support of County Executive Matthew Meyers. She was asked to teach Pop-Up Math Class each Tuesday to a group of students at Hilltop Community Center in Wilmington, Delaware. The great progress made with those students led to Delaware Online documenting a story of the classes which landed on the front page of the News Journal! With the support of her husband and four children, she aspires to help students all over the world become more engaged and interested in math and science by teaching through educational hip-hop music.