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BalletMet offers classes at Reynoldsburg school
Summit Road High School junior Kai Kellum spends his day reading, writing and working out, albeit in a non-traditional way.
Under the watchful eye of Pilates teacher and BalletMet dancer Sara Mitchell Sherman, Kellum is one of several students who take Pilates classes at school as part of the Reynoldsburg School District’s physical education curriculum.
The partnership between the dance company and the district’s Encore Academy trades space at the Eastside campus for after-school dance academy classes. The professional instruction comes at no cost to the district.
High school students attend one of three Pilates classes to fulfill credit requirements. Next semester, yoga will be taught at the academy satellite site.
Partnership Coordinator Kathy Wilson says the Pilates class is so popular, there was a waiting list soon after word got out that the school was offering the BalletMet course.
“I really enjoy working with high school level kids,” said Sherman, who said several athletes enrolled in the first semester class. “It’s a good outlet for them and I feel fortunate to teach here.”
Sherman did not think her students were aware how hard they would have to work, but they know now and are learning how to properly engage their muscles.
“It’s easier for dancers to engage their bodies and know what they’re supposed to do,” she said. “In teenagers, it takes more time, but now they’re getting it.”
Kellum said the class helps him by providing more flexibility for hockey and breakdancing.
“I wanted to try something new,” Kellum said as he stretched on a mat in the second-floor studio. “It helps me out with my abs and relieves muscle pain and keeps me in shape for my job and sports.”
Principal Katy Myers said the partnership with BalletMet is a way for educators to “try to do school differently” and afford students an opportunity they might not have otherwise.
The Reynoldsburg High School Encore Academy features arts and communication experiences for underclassmen; visiting artists; mandatory foreign language; and aspects in visual, performing and communicative arts.
As freshmen, students take a 12-week course on one of the three aspects, and then as sophomores, decide on electives such as Pilates and yoga.
“It’s working because we have committed people,” Myers said. “We establish the relationships and they’re committed to the partnership. We’ve been working with the (dance) academy and we’re talking with BalletMet about using the performance space.”
Myers felt there are many more ways the collaboration can grow and continue to help students “step outside the box.”
Activity in the Summit Road studio does not stop once the last school bell falls silent. Mitchell Sherman switches gears and prepares for community classes.
Instruction is offered for a wide range of ages - for children as young as 3 to adult students - in courses such as ballet, creative movement, discover dance, Zumba, tap and power movers for athletes.
Wilson said students in after-hour and weekend classes are not required to be Reynoldsburg residents. She added because classes at Summit Road are smaller, the satellite site has more flexibility in responding to interest. While it will take a little time to work out the kinks, the coordinator feels the school district is committed to the partnership.
“We can manage the classes and make changes quickly if necessary,” Wilson said. “It’s a huge benefit. We want to have a strong presence here and we do things a little differently here, like phone registrations.”
Academy Managing Director Chris Rogers said BalletMet assembled a model for Ohio’s new flexible credit program, which is designed to broaden the scope of curricular options available to students, increase the depth of study for a particular subject, and allow tailoring of learning time and/or conditions.
The information was sent to all central Ohio school districts and a conversation with Assistant Superintendent Dan Hoffman turned into a year-long discussion ending with the conversion of a regular classroom into a dance studio fully outfitted with wall-length mirrors and ballet bars. The dance company won the contract to install special flooring in the classroom.
“BalletMet benefits from the opportunity to use the space and offer its educational component, and there are now outreach opportunities to others in the area,” Rogers said. “This is not a short-term commitment.”
For more information on BalletMet classes at the Summit Road High School campus, call (6140) 224-1672 or (614) 229-4860 or visit online at www.balletmet.org.
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