JOY from Miss Ariana

Victories and new beginnings in the personal field. I had my last show Dec.14th at PS 63 and because I enjoy the word JOY, I received a sweater with that very word on it. Because of Dancing Classrooms I met the lovely school counselor there and was able to do my internship with her. This has now led to me being offered a job as the second school counselor in their school! So thank you to Dancing Classrooms for giving me the gift of ballroom for myself and to share.... but also helping me move on to my next career.

Ariana Carthan
M.S.Ed School Counseling
Long Island University, 2015

From Miss Paula ~

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As a new TA in a school that was also new to the Dancing Classrooms program, I was feeling a little apprehensive on my very first solo lesson. Sure, I had memorized the lesson well, I had practiced several times with my fellow new TAs, I have 14 years of educational experience in the classroom, and I love an audience. So, why was I feeling uneasy?
Ah, yes. The fear of the unknown. Would I forget anything? (I didn't.) Would I do Shakira with Justin Timberlake steps? (I didn't!) Would the students be more willing to do dance frame position during lesson 2? (They weren't. Ugh.)
But then, at the end of my second class, a student came up to me and earnestly said, "Miss Paula, you must have the best job in the whole school!"
Huh. That's when I realized that, yes, I indeed had the best job in the whole school! As a former classroom teacher, school administrator, and curriculum developer, well, yes, this WAS the best job to be had!
And now, as I enter the second half of my second residency, whenever I feel the slightly bit unsure, I remind myself of what that gentleman said, and I smile and keep on dancing.

--Miss Paula S.

Pierre in Saarbruecken, Germany ~ "I Will Persevere..."

I am very happy to be back in Germany doing my DANCING IN SAARBRUECKEN project...bringing so many young ladies and gentlemen from many nationalities AND religions all to dance TWOgether and to shake what their Mammas gave them. Thank you Dr. Halima Alaiyan for inviting me to do the same type of project I did last year in Berlin. SHOOKRAN!

Saarbruecken was part of France until 1959 when the inhabitants got to choose if they wished to remain part of France OR return to being part of Germany…Germany won the vote.
The teens (pictured) come from 5 different school and we meet after school at a dance studio. Many nationalities including German, Turks, Kurds, Turks, Lebanese, Syrian as well as Russian. The first lesson with them was difficult…BUT…the second lesson was even worse. The big problem is exactly the reason we do not work with 6th graders…and then on top of that…they do not know each other…thus they ‘act out’. Anyway I will persevere…but I also let them know I will ask a few of them to leave and NOT to return. We will see on Friday…which will be their 3rd. lesson.

From Silvia Tincani Guerrero and Sabrina Cataudella - orientation memory!

Ms. Silvia and I went to an Orientation and we were informed about a special needs student who was an introvert, who would probably not be participating. When we first introduced ourselves and why we were there, he threw his jacket over his head and stayed with it covering his face for a while and his head down on his desk. However, when I started to talk about sports and its relation to ballroom dancing, he removed the jacket from his head and raised his hands and said, "I do fencing." Once we acknowledged him, his face lit up! This was a pivotal moment  He began to sit tall and confident and was excited!!! This was an amazing experience and his teacher was so touched that he was excited about our program now!!!

--Ms. Sabrina, December 2015

The Children All Heard Me Speaking in Arabic

This morning I went to a nearby town called Lebach…about 23 miles away. I traveled on the Strassen Bahn…Electric / street car…takes just under one hour…stopping every 2 or 3 minutes etc. etc.This refugee camp in Lebach is a big one…with cinder block buildings housing he refugees. They now have 1,800 but just in November they had 4,800…so you can tell is it a large camp. Lebach is now known for new asylum seekers…the best place to be accepted and from there they would be assigned to another area of Germany. They have a great big…I mean big tent that can be divided into 3 separate areas and I was told their volunteers come in and give the children up to 15 years of age play time from 10 until noon and from 2 until 4 in the afternoon. I was invited to come in at 11am and work with the kids…that is the kids that actually show up…I did just this this morning…I had wanted to work with 10 year olds and up…but as you can see in the photo it was no where near the age bracket I was expecting…but because the children all heard me speaking in Arabic…they flocked to me in an instant…and so I could not turn them away. YES…you got it…THE STOMP & THE MACARENA…etc etc…they LOVED it.

Children are children are children the world over. Such innocence, gratitude and such beautiful smiles. How wonderful Germany is for opening its borders and for providing safety, security and lodging for these Syrian refugees in Lebach nearby Saarbruecken. It is a privilege to work with these wonderful children...I feel so blessed.

Where in the World is Pierre - from Amman:

Yes the schools are closed in Germany for the week...just as in NY I suppose...so I came to Amman to spend the week. I have just returned home from visiting our DC program here at the Ahliyya Girls School who take their dance classes with the boys from The Bishops School. Haiffa Najjar is the Principal of both schools and they are the oldest private schools in the whole of Jordan. -- Mr. Pierre with TA Alaa Takrouri and her class.

Here is a link of a 3-page article in one of Amman's high end magazines called "FAMILY FLAVOURS" flavours spelled the British way. I had done the interview a couple of months ago over Skype and telephone and as it happens I am here in February...just come out last week.  http://www.nakahat-ailiyeh.com/

Testing Social and Emotional Learning

This article appeared on the front page of the New York Times today. Given that SEL goes to the heart of what we do, I thought this is something we should be aware of.

Testing for Joy and Grit? Schools Nationwide Push to Measure Students’ Emotional Skills

By KATE ZERNIKE FEB. 29, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO — The fifth graders in Jade Cooney’s classroom compete against a kitchen timer during lessons to see how long they can sustain good behavior — raising hands, disagreeing respectfully and looking one another in the eye — without losing time to insults or side conversations.

 Read more here!