Dallas College alum Tito Salas doesn’t fancy himself as a rapper. And he definitely wasn’t expecting to become a viral sensation when he released a song to welcome students back to John F. Peeler Elementary School last month.
But Salas’ take on the popular TikTok song “Jiggle Jiggle” made him an overnight sensation, landing him on the evening news of multiple TV stations and even drawing praise from rappers Kap G and Trapboy Freddy.
“The very first time I heard my own voice? I was like, ‘Nah, I can’t do this,’” Salas said. “It didn’t sound right but the guy who helped put the video together, Mauricio Montoya, kept saying I sounded good. He was coaching me almost like I was back in school.
“This is part of being a leader, you have to be courageous. We teach our kids to be courageous and take risks, so this was me doing what I tell my kids to do. I didn’t expect all of this attention, but it has been a positive.”
For Salas, the video helped start the school year off right in his second year as principal. Check out the video on Instagram.
The greatest thrill for Salas is hearing students sing his song, “Pirates Dream in Gold,” in the hallways or cafeteria, or other principals lamenting the idea of creating their own music videos to appease their students.
“I heard from one principal the other day, ‘Hey, Salas, why you doing this to us?’” Salas said, laughing. “I’m like, ‘Hey, do it.’ If the students request it, do it. But I know every principal is doing something for their students.”
Salas became the first in his family to graduate high school, earning his diploma from Skyline. His parents never graduated high school in their native Mexico, immigrating here to chase the “American Dream.”
“They’re very hard-working people to this day. My dad wakes up early every day to go to work (as a forklift operator),” Salas said. “He doesn’t complain. He doesn’t gripe. He’s just a hard-working man. The same with my mom.
“They didn’t graduate from school in Mexico, but they knew school was something that would provide opportunities.”
With that, Salas – the oldest of four siblings – always took his studies seriously as well as his passion for soccer. Salas was a standout midfielder at Skyline, talented enough that he spent summers pursuing a professional career in Mexico.
While a professional career didn’t pan out, soccer landed him at Dallas College’s Richland Campus where he won back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007. He then went on to play and graduate from William Carey University in Mississippi.
Soccer consumed most of his time and Salas hadn’t zeroed in on a major until a conversation with an advisor at William Carey University. That’s when the suggestion arose that he pursue a physical education degree, given how much he loved soccer.
“I remember my advisor said, ‘Son, soccer isn’t a degree,’” Salas said, smiling. “But I could become a PE teacher and teach soccer in addition to other sports. PE jobs are difficult to find, though. If you’re passionate about being physically active, you enjoy it and don’t leave.”
Salas couldn’t find a PE job out of the gates. He taught Spanish in Dallas ISD for one year before landing a PE job. Along the way, he earned his master’s degree from Stephen F. Austin and became an assistant principal at Emmet J. Conrad High School. He was an assistant principal at the high school level for five years before becoming Peeler’s principal two years ago.
“I went from kids running away from me when I worked in the high school to kids running to me and giving me hugs and stickers,” Salas said. “Kids are kids regardless of age. And it all boils down to this – kids need love.”
Dallas College days
Salas looks back fondly on his Dallas College days. He played for legendary Richland soccer coach Sean Worley, helping the Thunderducks win consecutive national championships. Richland is also where he met his now-wife, Karina, who was on the women’s soccer team that won a national championship in 2006.
The couple has three children of their own, and Salas would love to see them follow in his footsteps. He is a firm believer in education, particularly the community college route.
“For me, I wouldn’t change anything about the community college system,” Salas said. “I would love my kids to take that route as well. It’s a really, really good option for anyone who is thinking about a degree.”