The Kennedy Center: Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers

Article excerpt

Dance Teacher presents teachers who complete a continuing dance education program with a Dance Teacher Certificate of Recognition. (Please visit for a list of organizations recognized.) Simply send a letter to DT Recognizes, Dance Teacher, 110 William St, 23rd Fl, New York, NY 10038. Include your address, name of the organization, proof of participation in the program you attended and a brief description of how the experience has impacted your teaching. This month, DT salutes educators who have participated in The Kennedy Center Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers.

The Kennedy Center Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers program has been helping K-12 instructors integrate the arts into their classrooms for almost 30 years. Created with the help of Kennedy Center educator Lynne Silverstein, it aims to provide classroom and dance teachers with new, creative teaching methods.

At the beginning of each school year, roughly 80,000 area teachers are invited to participate in arts education workshops at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Offerings are categorized by gradelevel suitability and are designed to adapt to core curriculum or basic-needs skills. Dance comprises roughly 20 to 30 percent of the program's focus.

The workshops vary in length, from one session to five sessions over the course of a few weeks. For teachers with less dance experience, they offer a nurturing and nonintimidating environment to experiment with movement. For the seasoned dance teacher, the courses provide an opportunity to pick up new methodology to use with students. Learning how to reach students through nonverbal communication is an especially important benefit to attendees, because many schools have growing numbers of ESL learners. "Some of these students become disenfranchised because they don't understand what the teacher is saying," says The Kennedy Center Vice President for Education Darrell Ayers. "Dance breaks down that barrier."

Spring 2007 workshops include "Teamwork Through Dance: Developing Young Children's Collaboration Skills," for pre-K-kindergarten educators, and "Exploring Habitats Through Creative Movement," a popular course taught by dance teacher Kimberli Boyd that helps students in grades 1-4 make a connection between movement and the environment. Notable past courses have included "Dancetalk: Creative Movement and Language Development" and "Dance into Writing: Inspiring Creativity and Clarity in Written Composition."

For teachers who can't make it to DC, The Kennedy Center also provides support and resources for more than 10O performing arts centers in 48 states to offer regional professional development workshops through the Partners in Education program. "Professional development is such a wonderful way to reach more students than if you just sent one artist into a classroom," Ayers says. "If you can change the way teachers are teaching, they are going to impact students this year, the year after, etc."

Teachers who complete at least 30 hours of coursework within a year receive a Certificate of Study from the professional development program. The workshops are also very helpful for teachers who want to implement the National Standards for Arts Education because each workshop covers a specific artform that falls within these standards. …