Today, I began four days of summer dance classes on my middle school’s auditorium stage. Eight wonderful little individuals attended my camp, and I was genuinely thrilled to be working with kids again after my June hiatus from reality.
As I approached the middle school, memories flooded my mind; the front lawn where we stood in small groups and waited for the bell, double doors where administrators would post the school supply list at the very end of summer, the art projects of numerous generations pasted to the hallway walls, the dark bathrooms, the linoleum cafeteria where I experienced my first school dance…
I walked down the aisles of the auditorium, the same aisles I danced down with my best friend to the tune of Destiny’s Child. I glided across the stage, the same stage where as a kindergartener, I performed in my first musical; ANNIE. I was cast as one of the maids, and my only line was one simple word – “sheets.” I shared some of the most important moments of my childhood in this auditorium, whether it was belting (and hiccuping through) an acapella version of “A Whole New World” at the middle school talent show, playing the french horn in band, singing with my high school choir, knocking away on drum pads in the drum line, performing as Charity in SWEET CHARITY at the age of 16, or rocking out as Mimi in my senior year production of RENT.
I asked the students, “Who knows the art teacher?” and they all raised their hand.
“What if I told you she was my MOM!”
The expression on their faces was priceless, an instant bond created. Some of the students were attending the same dance studio I attended during my years on the dance team, and working with beloved teachers and coaches. Most of them were on the same education track as I , aspiring with bright eyes to one day be at the high school.
Being from a small town has it’s flaws, but the benefits greatly outweigh the quirks. I can’t express in words how grateful I am to be from this town, one that cherishes its people and its spaces, cultivating a true sense of “place;” something familiar to come back too. There is not enough of this in the world, and I know that only a small population of young people get to have moments like the moments I experienced today.
There is no better feeling than leaving your home and returning with new treasures to share. I have to admit, teaching today made me question my future, why? Because I love it so much. I love to learn from the youth by means of sharing what I know. My natural connection to education and exploration is a great gift, one that I most certainly developed in the past six years of my life. I miss my desert dance community, every individual that I had the privilege of seeing every week. You got me here! And if you are reading this, I am thinking of you! I am thanking you! Because today, I am full.