Avilee Goodwin has taught dance to a wide range of students for many years. She taught for over two decades at a small neighborhood dance studio in San Francisco, but has focused most of her career on bringing dance into public schools. She initiated a dance program at Hercules Middle School, then created and directed the dance program at East Oakland School of the Arts (EOSA), a small, arts-focused public high school for disadvantaged youth in the inner city. During EOSA’s seven-year span, dance studentsthere participated in adjudicated dance festivals and helped present dance education
workshops to teachers in the district as well as statewide and nationally. Ms. Goodwin’s focus on guiding young artists to develop their creative voices bore fruit as EOSA students were able to create effective and moving dance works expressing their life experiences. Since EOSA lost its arts programs, she now teaches at United For Success Academy, a public middle school in Oakland. Mrs. Goodwin also has presented workshops at state and national conferences, serves as the Northern California coordinator for the National Honor Society for Dance Arts, and recently spearheaded a PLC meeting group for K12 dance teachers in the East Bay and Marin. In her non-teaching dance life, she has performed with Ruth Botchan’s Hawkins-based modern dance company and a hula halau, as well as 20 years with Westwind Folk Ensemble. Currently she studies Duncan dance with Lois Flood with an eye toward passing on Isadora’s dance legacy.
“In many ways I have come full circle–but along the way I have gained so many insights and so much more faith in myself as a leader and advocate that I am in no way the same person I imagined I would be when I finally got here.”
One of the biggest areas of learning for me may have been how many forms advocacy can take–from talking about the value of dance education to specific school administrators, to beginning a long conversation among dance educators regarding our common frustrations with advocacy, to something as simple as responding to an article in the teachers’ union magazine (when the author neglected dance in the typical “art and music” formulation). Another huge area of learning for me was that I can still be a dance education leader and advocate, even at a time when my students were so difficult that I [lost confidence] as a teacher. Avilee joined the leadership cohort after three frustrating years of trying to convince yet another school administrator to begin a dance program–a battle she had been fighting her entire career. She created exemplary programs only to have the district close the schools or shift priorities. As the leadership process came to a close, Avilee landed her dream job, once again growing a dance program at an urban high school, but this time with district support.