ROUND ROCK, TEXAS - Berkman Elementary School in Round Rock offers several after school programs.
"One, two, ready, go," said Edward Robert Francis, the executive director of Rhythm Workshops, to a group of fourth graders Tuesday afternoon.
The students are learning to play the drums.
"It takes a lot of practice," said fourth grader Rodrigo Duque.
Zoe West said it only took her two weeks to learn to play.
"Drumming's not that hard," said West.
"It's foundational, it's the core of everything else you would play," said Francis.
Francis said their mission is to empower at-risk kids using the magic of music.
"I think a lot of kids believe they only have a certain number of things they can accomplish in life, because they're not exposed to things that are different. What we hope to do is not just show them that they can be a drummer, or even just a musician, but that they can do something that they love to do," said Francis.
As a child, Francis said he was bullied. But he said his band director and art teacher looked out for him.
"They had my back, and if it wasn't for them in my life, my life would have turned out much differently," said Francis.
And that's what he wants to do for these students here.
"We want to make a difference in the kids' lives here in our community," said Francis.
Now they meet every other week, teaching 9- to 11-years-olds how to play the drums.
"We want all kids to know that they have a purpose, that they have an ability and that they can make their lives different than what they think they already have in mind for themselves," said Francis.
But here at Berkman Elementary, he's not the only inspirational teacher.
Round Rock Police Commander Jim Stuart joins them.
"It's just a lot of fun," said Stuart.
Stuart has been playing the drums for 15 years.
"The physical nature of playing the drums, and the difficult nature behind it is really what attracted me to it," said Stuart.
When he first started to help teach the class, some of the students were a bit surprised.
"When he started playing I was just like, amazed, because I've seen cops doing stuff dangerous, and I didn't even know that a police officer was going to be playing the drums. That just like opened my mind," said fourth grader Duque.
"It's exciting to see somebody be able to play a simple rhythm for the first time and see that smile on their face that they were able to accomplish that. It looks like it shocks them sometimes," said Stuart. "I tell you, it really shocks me sometimes. The young ladies that come in here -- they pick it up a lot faster than the young men."
As officers, Stuart said they're encouraged to get involved in the community
"In the department, I think each of us tries to find our own way to interact with the public, and this was just a good way for me," said Stuart.
"He gives a peacefulness to the kids to know, when you see a police officer, they're there to help you," said Francis. "When kids can see that police officers are people too, and that they can invest themselves into the betterment of the community, then we've all won."
"It's also about relating with them personally, and letting them get to know you and realize you're not this big scary guy out there -- you're actually interested in their life," said Stuart.
And it seems like the interaction is hitting the point home.
"I will say that police officers are awesome, they protect us and they protect us from danger," said Duque.
"I think police officers inspire people," said West.
"Thank you, thank you, you have a great day, thank you very much," Stuart said as he gives students high fives as they walk down the school's hallway.
The students will show off their skills for the public on Friday Dec. 22 at the First United Methodist Church in Round Rock at an event called, "The Bash."
Francis said the performance starts at 7p.m. and is free, but said they are also trying to raise money for the after-school program.
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