Your Donations in the Classroom - Dancing Classrooms at Franklin Elementary
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Your donations to the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation go to support amazing projects, like the Dancing Classrooms program for Franklin’s fifth graders. Dancing Classrooms was developed in 1994 by world-renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine as a not-for-profit arm of the American Ballet Theater Company.
Two trained and certified instructors, Baja Poindexter and Donovan Hollinquest, lead bi-weekly dance classes to Franklin students using the Dulaine method. The program focuses not just on learning dance steps, but also on developing respect and compassion for one another. Ms. Poindexter has clearly created a safe environment for students to learn. During a recent lesson, one student stumbled on a tricky heel-toe step and fell to the floor. Several other dancers stopped in their tracks. The student’s partner reached out her hand, “Oh, that was totally my fault!” helping him to his feet. After Ms. Poindexter checked in to see that he was okay, the entire class applauded and the dance continued.
The group then switched from the rowdy polka to a more sedate foxtrot. Looking like pros out on the dance floor, Silvia and Aviel demonstrated the foxtrot steps for their peers with Ms. Poindexter guiding them, “A, A, boom-boom; B, B, boom-boom.”
Ms. Poindexter explained, “I enjoy the way we teach them life skills through dance. We trick them into learning what they need to know about respect, about body language, and about elegance. They come in as girls and boys and learn what it means to be ladies and gentlemen.”
“They certainly don’t start out that way,” shared fifth grade teacher, Lynn Hampton. “In the beginning, many of my students were reluctant to make eye contact, let alone hold hands.” Ms. Hampton pointed out one of her male students who has gradually overcome his initial reluctance.
The boy even braved a smile as he greeted his new dance partner. After class he explained how Ms. Hampton had encouraged him to give it a try. “It was hard because most of the time at school, like at recess, the girls are all together over in one place and the boys in another. We don’t usually mix. But in dance class we do, so it’s a way to get to know each other better.”
His partner is an enthusiastic participant. “I love it. It’s not something that I will necessarily do for a living, but dance inspires me. It’s something every single child can do, and that’s cool.”
Learn more about SMMEF-funded programs at every school in our district.