Last week, all of the 4th and 5th grade students at Dale Street School learned some moves….dance moves that is!
Ballroom Dance has been implemented into the Dale Street School curriculum and the students got their chance to learn dance moves. It certainly looked like they enjoyed it.
The morning I visited, the grade 5 students in Mr. White’s class and the grade 4 students in Mrs. Marchesi’s class were getting their first instructions on dance. I think many of them were surprised to find out how much fun this unit would turn out to be.
Dale Street physical education teacher, Mairi Nawrocki, was also learning dance from Medfield High School PE teacher, Karen Renaud, with the help of three different Medfield High School students each day. MHS Seniors, Megan McSharry, Emmajane Kanter and Nick DeSantos were assisting Renaud in teaching the steps to the students the day I was there.
“We (Nawrocki, Gelinas and Carey), are very excited to add ballroom dance to our curriculum. We are continually looking for ways to improve. Ballroom dance is another method for us to introduce our students to a different form of movement in hopes to create a love for movement, activity and life-long physical fitness” said Nawrocki, speaking for herself, Dale Street School P.E. teacher, Ellen Gelinas and Health teacher, Pauline Carey.
Ballroom dance has been taught as part of the sophomore wellness curriculum at Medfield High School for the past 5 years. Ballroom dancing at the high school level has expanded and this year there were enough students enrolled to fill two courses.
Now funding has been awarded to offer this program at Dale Street School as well. It was co-funded by a grant from the Medfield Coalition for Public Education and the assistance of the High School PTO. Due to this funding and the commitment of Renaud, dance has come to Dale Street School. According to Renaud, “The reaction to dance has been very positive!”
But dance is far more than just learning the moves looking good on the dance floor. Renaud listed the physical, social and mental benefits that can be gained by ballroom dancing. Here are just a few:
*Increased muscle tone
*Improved posture and flexibility
*Improved coordination and agility
*Lifetime activity skill
*Positive social outlet
*Improved emotional well-being
*Increased social interaction and improved social skills
*Increased blood flow to the brain via mental challenges, memorizing complex steps, staying on beat, and working with a partner…
A few years ago Renaud found herself venturing into a ballroom dance studio looking for something new to do that would be fun and challenging. She said, “I found that and so much more!” And so it began.
The goals of this program (as stated in the grants that were written by Renaud) were to develop a top quality ballroom dance curriculum and imbed it into the existing wellness curriculum. The implementation has been done in stages but is intended to become a permanent part of the education of Medfield Public School children. According to Renaud, “The ultimate goal is to make this such an exemplary program of study that school districts in our state and nationally will use Medfield as a model for their own curriculum development.”
By the looks on their faces, the students went into this with a bit of uncertainty and trepidation, but truly enjoyed learning to dance once shown the simplicity of the steps and once they got past the concern of holding hands. They were also taught that dance is a place to give and to receive respect, show kindness and tolerance and that dance is another way to communicate with others.
Who knows, someday we might have a professional dancer emerge and teach others on Dancing with the Stars....one who first learned ballroom
dancing at the Dale Street School.