Sept. 14, 2018 -- Fifth graders at Fairfax have adopted a unique approach to improving their social skills: ballroom dance. The three classes are participating in a 10-week long program called Dancing Classrooms, sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic, that uses dance instruction as a tool to teach respect for self and others, teamwork, leadership, confidence, and self-esteem.
Teacher Kristi Glasier secured grant dollars from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, the Fairfax PTA and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to cover the $7,500 fee. Professional dance instructors visit the students twice a week for 50-minute sessions to teach them the merengue, foxtrot, rumba, tango, swing and waltz, while incorporating social development into the lessons.
Some of the students were skeptical prior to their first class. “But by the end, it was so beautiful to see them all smiling,” said Ms. Glasier. Dylan Smith especially liked the instructor, who was “really energetic and not at all stuffy or stuck up. She got us into it.”
“She was really nice,” agreed his friend and classmate Olive Chicotel. “And she used terms we would understand like red light/green light or make our hands flat like pancakes so we could picture what she meant.”
The program, which will run through November, includes a curriculum component, and reports that participating schools earn higher test scores, have improved attendance rates and increased classroom productivity.
“And I’ll be a really good dancer by the end,” said Dylan.