Each season, the Norton Center for the Arts has the opportunity to collaborate with professional guest artists. This past March (2011), we worked with performers from the Diavolo Dance Company and local educators to teach a workshop at the Kentucky School for the Deaf. Following the hands-on workshop, a teacher from KSD who participated with her students, sent a note to the Norton Center describing how the activity was a powerful example of the impact the arts can have on students of all abilities. We wanted to share this moving letter with you.
“I have taught students with moderate and severe disabilities for almost 12 years. Over the years I’ve seen many inspirational things with my students. And I’m happy to say that I currently work in a middle school with teachers and students that don’t see these kids as less than, but as equals.
On March 8, 2012 I was brought to tears by the actions of the students at my school along with the dancers from Diavolo. Students were working on trust and teamwork through activities with two members of Diavolo. One of these activities required students to randomly volunteer for their peers to spontaneously pick them up and carry them 4-5 steps before sitting them back down. One of my autistic students was one of the middle school students participating through the support of his aide. When this activity started he was walking around with the group but not really involved.
One of the teachers had asked if this student would want to be picked up. I had reservations due to his size, whether or not the group could physically lift him off the ground and carry him a few steps, and whether or not he would accept being picked up. However, minutes later, the middle school students decided themselves, that everyone had had a turn except my student. They proceeded to pick him up and carry him several steps. They didn’t hesitate, wait for direction or balk at the idea of helping or wanting this boy, their classmate, to be a part of this activity. It was as if it was any other student volunteering to be lifted and carried by their friends.
I was immediately moved to tears. The thing that touched me most was how normal it all was. Things like that would usually be orchestrated or initiated by a teacher and even then you’d have to convince the other students to do it. That was not and is not the case at KSD. It was something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I think the two members of Diavolo were successful with their goal of teaching trust and teamwork on this day!”
– Middle School Educator, Kentucky School for the Deaf
At the Norton Center, we promote the power and positive impact that the arts have on students.We want to hear and share your stories as well! Please email us to submit your comments and experiences.