The Daily Grind Video

“The thing I remember about Shawn is he took the reading test and he scored 12th grade in the sixth grade,” says Rene Rosenblum-Lowden, the sixth grade teacher who JAY-Z credits with reinforcing his love of words. “I remember telling him… ‘You’re smart, you better do well.’ And he listened.”

Jay mentioned Lowden in his Netflix interview with David Letterman, remembering a school trip to the museum which included a stop at Lowden’s apartment.

The Washington Post reports:

“Lowden, 77, now lives in Columbia, Md., but in 1980, she taught sixth grade at Brooklyn’s I.S. 318. Carter, a shy and avid reader.”

“I remember him as the kid who never smiled,” Rosenblum-Lowden said. She believes in using humor in the classroom, and making Carter smile was always one of her goals. A sense of accomplishment accompanied every grin.

Those pearly whites have stuck with her during the past few decades.

“He was a skinny little kid,” she said. “He’s totally different looking. When I first saw him again, I didn’t recognize him until he smiled. And there he was: Shawn.”

They reconnected in 1999 after Jay mentioned her in a Teen People profile. She is thankful for the credit he gives her, and his advocacy for increasing teachers’ pay. But she insists he would have been brilliant with or without her.

“One thing that I feel uncomfortable with is all the credit he gives me. I don’t think I’m deserving of all that credit. He was super bright,” she said. Still, “it makes me feel great that I had a part, or that he feels I had a part, in his love for words.”

He’s just lucky she didn’t find out he wasn’t a Mets fan. “If I had known he was a Yankees fan,” she joked, “he never would have gotten into seventh grade.”

Hit the jump for five gems from Hov and Letterman’s must-stream interview on Netflix.

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