Ellen DeGeneres surprises Richmond ‘Tik Tok’ principal with generous school gift

Ellen DeGeneres surprises Richmond 'Tik Tok' principal with generous school gift
St. David Principal Kenneth Deshone Farr II (right) appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (Photo courtesy of The Ellen DeGeneres Show)

A viral Tik Tok video landed a charismatic Richmond principal an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, but also provided a big boost for his school’s technology needs, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the fun and heartfelt segment, which aired Monday and can be viewed in full here, Ellen surprised St. David School’s dancing principal Kenneth Deshone Farr II with $30,000 for 100 Google Chrome Books, courtesy of Shutterfly.

Known locally for his charm and passion for education, Farr equally charmed on the national stage. He was invited onto The Ellen DeGeneres Show following a viral video. His girlfriend, Priscilla Aguirre, secretly filmed Farr as he was jubilantly dancing with his students during a distance learning call. She then posted the video to Tik Tok. The video quickly went viral and caught Ellen’s attention.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the best way to end up on my show is to have your girlfriend secretly film a video of you dancing with your virtual kindergarten class during a pandemic then post it on Tik Tok and go viral,” Ellen said in introducing Farr to the show. “It’s pretty simple.”

Farr was clearly ecstatic to have been invited onto the show, stating right off the bat, “I have to see you to believe it, Ellen.”

While that single Tik Tok video went viral, Farr explained that dancing with his students is actually a morning routine to inspire them to get out of their seats, sing, dance and express themselves.

“We believe that during these challenging times, especially for our students and children, that’s no excuse to give them any reason not to have fun and not to feel some sort of normalcy,” Farr said.

Farr further explained that although many assume private Catholic schools serve families that are financially well off, that isn’t the case for St. David School at 871 Sonoma St.

“Our parents don’t have the luxury financially to be able to afford private Catholic school,” Farr said. “However, they want their kids to be in a safe, quality, family-style community, so they do everything necessary to make it work. I have parents sit with me and cry, I have to choose between my son/daughter having this education and this experience, or paying my rent or my mortgage.”

To support families within its community, St. David School and its staff does “what we have to do to make it work,” Farr added.

“Due to financial constraints, each of our classes are combined, and so our teachers are basically teaching two classes with no additional pay,” Farr said. “Double the curriculum, double the work, and no additional pay, and that’s just what kind of school and family that we are.”

Farr said he’s been co-teaching kindergarten and first grade along with his girlfriend, a therapist for junior high school students.

“It was a regular Tuesday, it was my day to teach,” Farr said about the viral video, adding, “She was in the living room, and she was going to start her other job she works, and she heard us in there singing and dancing and so she grabbed her camera, came around and got a sneak peek of us. And little did we know that it would go viral.”

If he’d known in advance that the video would go viral, Farr admitted he “would not have worn those bummy sweats.” The impromptu moment was well worth it, Farr said, after he read some of the many comments to the video.

“You are seeing these people say I was having a really bad day today, or my children are really struggling in this distance learning platform, and when we saw your video, it made me feel so good, it made my day, it gave my children hope and now they sing and dance to your video,” Farr said.

Ellen was among those impacted by the video, which she expressed with a generous gesture in the finale of the segment.

“I heard your school is struggling with technology, and I want to change that, ” Ellen said before announcing Shutterfly was donating $30,000 for 100 Chrome Books to St. David School.”