Dutton’s social studies playlist lifting spirits through song


Shrayes Gunna

Coppell High School IB History of the Americas teacher Kyle Dutton creates a monthly playlist dedicated to each month’s holidays, events and celebrations. The playlist opens the social studies department’s staff meetings and promotes the department to faculty .

As faculty shuffled into Zoom meetings and the new normal set in, the Coppell High School social studies department sought methods to put its members at ease and produce a positive space for team meetings to ensue. 

CHS AP U.S. history teacher and social studies department head Diane de Waal looked to the talents of her team members to do just that. Born out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the imposition of Zoom meetings, the monthly K-Tunes Playlist, a relatively new tradition for the department, is curated by CHS IB history of the Americas teacher Kyle Dutton, who plans on retiring after the 2021-22 academic year.

“It grew out of a love that Mr. Dutton has for music, he is such a renaissance man,” de Waal said. “He has taken this idea and turned it into a way of welcoming the month and bringing joy to our meetings, and it is a way to celebrate Mr. Dutton and his many different talents.”

The playlist is sent out to all CHS staff at the start of each month by de Waal, while Dutton hand picks each song in the collection, even going as far as researching the music’s origins and inspiration. Dutton further crafts the playlist as a mechanism of highlighting a month’s importance from its holidays. 

In the month of February, Dutton selected 14 songs that allude to love from various genres such as pop, country and classics. Through entertaining introductions to each song such as a personal description of Dutton’s history with Elvis Presley to introduce 1961’s “Cant Help Falling in Love,” Dutton embraces the music, bringing the playlist to life. 

In addition to introductions, Dutton enhances the experience of venturing through the assortment of songs with vivid and joyous fonts, images, jokes and trivia. 

“At first, I just drew up a list and sent it to her. It was a simple list of about five songs,” Dutton said. “Slowly, I began to add to what it was because I could see that it was something that she really enjoyed and it brightened things up a little bit. I began to add video links, trivia points about the singers and the songs. It’s become quite a lot of fun for me to put it together.”

The playlist transcends the classroom and education, highlighting the very way in which social studies is a worldwide exploration. With music relating to Veterans Day, Holocaust remembrance and women’s history according to de Waal, the playlist brings other department and faculty members in on the grand scale of the department. 

“To send [the playlist out], it puts the social studies department on the radar through something fun,” de Waal said. “It really just lifts people’s spirits.”

Bringing the department and school together truly is the goal for the social studies playlist, using music as a universal language to celebrate moments in history. 

“It’s certainly something that we are more and more familiar with since we’ve been doing it all year,” Dutton said. “We really expanded it to what it has become now. Mrs. de Waal decided to share it with the whole school. Some folks have expressed that it is a fun idea. Some folks have commented to her that they love this, and it’s fun.”

Follow Shrayes (@ShrayesGunna) and @CHSCampus News on Twitter.