Innovate

Beyond Creative Catchy Tunes


Written By: Sophia Karnegis

COX BUSINESS GET STARTED GAINESVILLE COMPETITION WINNER

A fish out of water. That is how Melissa Corbett, a fifth grade teacher at Healthy Learning Academy Charter School, described her experience at the Cox Business Get Started Gainesville competition.

“Here I am sitting with a guitar, and all the other companies are there with their tech gadgets,” Corbett said. “Then, I get up there and sing.”

It must have worked because on October 21, Corbett went home $10,000 richer. Cox Business awarded Corbett the grand prize for her pitch of GrammarSongs, a company she and her husband developed to engage students through educational music. GrammarSongs matches the current elementary curriculum by using music to cover all grammar-related topics, ranging from intangible nouns to subordinate conjunctions.

Melissa’s husband, Cullen Corbett, has supported her idea as it has grown over the last five years. He has helped her sell the uniqueness of the product and bring it to market. Although there have been other attempts at teaching through music, GrammarSongs greatly differs from these older methods, specifically the infamous “Conjunction Junction” (“What’s your function?”) jingle.

“We’re kind of like “Schoolhouse Rock” on steroids,” Cullen said. “Schoolhouse Rock is fantastic, but ultimately, today, you have to get kids to understand what conjunctions are and how they function.

GrammarSongs goes beyond simply creating catchy tunes — it captivates kids and teaches them in an unconventional manner.

As a teacher for many years, Melissa is very familiar with the emphasis placed on standardized tests, but her teaching methods are far from standardized.

“I have students with different types of needs, and GrammarSongs employs different ways of teaching them,” Melissa said. “I picked up my guitar as an avenue to help with all learning styles. When I saw the impact in my classroom, I was so empowered that the songs kept coming.”

It’s a good thing the songs keep coming because the company just won’t stop growing. The Corbetts plan to use the prize money to develop new content and disperse it across the globe. In fact, GrammarSongs has received requests from developing countries interested in distributing the songs to villages. Education standards are typically poor in these rural areas, but GrammarSongs could potentially improve these standards with its nontraditional format.

It may sound like a simple idea, but the Corbetts have the potential to impact students from all over the world, and they’re only getting started. “It’s hard to envision what the future will look like because we’re doing something that no one has ever done before,” Melissa said. “It’s a real journey and a real process.”

Although both Cullen and Melissa have been instrumental in the development of GrammarSongs, Cullen can’t help but praise his wife and everything she has accomplished.

“Melissa has hearing aids, and somehow she manages to write these songs in a matter of minutes,” Cullen said.

Melissa took what some might consider an obstacle and turned it into an opportunity. As her husband and business partner, Cullen is constantly in awe of his wife and the way she uses music to inspire young students, despite her hearing disability.

“Melissa teaches 14 students during the day,” he said. “But, she’s impacting millions online each month.”

SOPHIA KARNEGIS is a third-year public relations student at the University of Florida. She currently works as an intern at Advantage Publishing and enjoys learning the ins and outs of the editorial process. In her free time, she reminisces about her home in Miami and the love she left behind — a black and white miniature schnauzer named Oreo.

Leave a Comment