Students at Tunnell Elementary School in Santa Maria received lessons in grit and the growth mindset from hip-hop educator and motivational speaker Blake Brandes on Tuesday morning.

Brandes, a Marshall Scholar who studied at the United Kingdom's University of Kent, utilizes beatboxing and freestyle rap — along with stories of his own personal struggles — to present the works of Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck and MacArthur grant winner Angela Duckworth in a manner children can understand. His stop at Tunnell was one of 118 he will make during the 2019 school year. 

"When students adopt a growth mindset," explained Brandes, "they become more resilient when facing challenges at school and at home, are less likely to give up and believe more in their power to learn new things."

Tunnell Principal Linda Muranaka said the school first invited Brandes to visit last school year. On his return visit, Brandes offered a Monday evening presentation geared toward parents, to help them understand and implement the growth mindset, followed by a Tuesday morning presentation for students from kindergarten through sixth grade. 

"We're focusing on the growth mindset, and he does a great job," Muranaka said. "He's very professional and really good with the kids."

Muranaka said Brandes' approach was relatable, not just for parents but, also, for students.

"They really enjoyed it," she said of the presentations. "He does hip-hop and rap but sends the message of the growth mindset."

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga