This is an excerpt from Dance Appreciation With HKPropel Access by Dawn D. Loring & Julie L. Pentz.
K. Brooke Jerome, K-5 Public School Dance Teacher
K. Brooke Jerome is a professional dance educator with Shelby County Schools in Memphis, Tennessee. She received a bachelor of fine arts in K-12 dance education from the University of Southern Mississippi, where she was awarded an Outstanding Dance Educator Award. At her school, she encourages kindergarten through fifth grade students to develop an appreciation for dance by introducing them to ballet, jazz, modern dance, musical theater, and tap dance styles. As head of the after-school drama club, she also produces a full musical each year, and her K-5 students have performed Madagascar: A Musical Adventure Jr. and Disney’s The Lion King Jr.
Her classes are in high demand and Ms. Jerome credits the success of her program in part to the commitment from her district and school administrators, who dedicated studio space with a dance floor, mirrors, and barres for her classes. Her approach to student learning is decidedly collaborative, as she facilitates integrated lessons with deep connections to core academic subjects, and her colleagues report that students who take dance successfully transfer these connections into their homerooms. Ms. Jerome asserts that dance teaches the whole student, attending to the mind, the body, and the spirit, and that dance students become more nimble communicators and are inspired to treat their bodies with care because they have the opportunity to learn about themselves and reflect on their experiences. Her studio also provides a place for students to excel who otherwise have difficulties in traditional classroom settings.
For Ms. Jerome, dance is ideal for differentiating lessons. “One can have a lesson plan that is easily tailored for 25 different learners, all going on at the same time, and each student can focus on what they need.” She begins each year with a study of how the body works, followed by the basic elements of dance (energy, space, and time). This foundational knowledge follows through the remainder of students’ experience in dance class as they move through dance and its connection to history, language arts, science, and mathematics. Ms. Jerome’s teaching philosophy echoes the words of choreographer Alvin Ailey: “Dance is for everybody. I believe that dance came from the people, and it should always be delivered back to the people.”