Tyler can seem childlike at times. But now, he looks like a seasoned professional. Lips pursed, head bobbing, his fingers expertly lay down chords on the keyboard, then switch to the mouse to do the mixing.
He has just overlaid electric piano, a bass line, xylophone and brass, he explains. Handing over the headphones, he adds, "Just remember: Prince." The song sounds like jazz-infused techno, with a repetitious drum pattern and dreamy piano lines. With a hint of Prince.
Downstairs, Murphy is in her office. The day is winding to a close. She looks exhausted. She has suspended the four students who were fighting -- and will eventually expel two. All of them, she says, were crying and begging to be given another chance. "All four of those boys are kids I absolutely adore. And they made a really bad mistake," she says.
And then there was the girl who was caught on the videotape breaking into the office. Murphy confronted her. "She started crying," Murphy says. "She said she didn't steal the money. She said she took a pen. . . . She's a really good girl. She's trying." She will remain at school.
Murphy wrestles with issues like this every day, and she admits that it is wearying. Teachers and students alike say she has saved this school, or at least is trying. It is a bit of a high-wire act, but Murphy insists that the students keep her going.
"What they walk through to get to school makes them heroes. And I want to honor them for that," Murphy says. Are they getting a good education? "We keep raising the bar." She lifts her hand as high as it will go. "Is it this high? No," she says. "But it will go higher."
"What happened today," she continues, "is not what these kids want to be. There are enough stereotypes about their age and their ethnicity and where they live." She will use today's setbacks as a teaching tool, to rally the students around the idea that they can be better, that they must be better, that deep down they are better.
"This," Murphy says, "could be a catalyst to begin a movement."