Dance educators and artists are impacting the field of arts education in many ways. One such person, Jakey Toor, shares her efforts to bring creativity to children and adults through the art of dance and writing. Jakey teaches in San Francisco Unified School District as an arts educator in their Visual and Performing Arts Program (VAPA) and keeps an active dance blog. “My blog for me is a big creative outlet. I can construct whatever I want, points of inspiration, articles, dance notes.”
Jakey attended UCSD as a dance minor & theater major, taught writing classes to college freshmen and eventually got her teaching credential. Coinciding with her education she taught workshops to children in Mexico and at The Arc of San Diego, where she worked with children with Down’s Syndrome. Creative expression through performance has always been a big part of her life, and education is yet another way for her to share creative experiences with others.
Jakey first heard about Luna Dance Institute (LDI) in 2011. Attending LDI’s Summer Institute (SI) had been on her radar for a year, but in 2011 the time was ripe. “Patricia Reedy was my coach. When I did the SI 2011, I was completely overwhelmed and surprised. It was a program where dance pedagogy and child development came together in a solid way. I had never experienced that before. I have had such a passion for both fields-seeing both content areas coming together-dance concepts and Piaget; it felt like a dance teacher training that I never had. I really appreciated it because I think that way. It felt like the credential program that I should have been in.”
Jakey continues to be a life-long learner, evaluating her teaching, student learning and community building experiences. For two years she has been investigating if it is possible to manage a classroom without a negative consequence in a dance class setting. Can one teach in a way where there are no negative consequences for negative behavior, specifically for the itinerant teacher? Can dance teachers keep it so engaging that everyone wants to participate? The idea was born out of the reality that she is always working with other teachers’ students. Some teachers have very established cultures and itinerant teachers are coming in doing their own thing. Sometimes classroom and itinerant teachers can collaborate before hand and sometimes not. “I don’t do well with punitive discipline, so I keep it moving. It usually works pretty well.”
Jakey brings dance and creativity to 1500 children every year. She is most proud of working with whole schools and communities. It began as an experiment at one of her schools. She was interested in finding a way to authentically weave dance into the school community at Cesar Chavez. She ended up choreographing a whole dance for the school to perform on the black top. This became an annual tradition, that continues, and has expanded to other schools in San Francisco. Now Jakey brings them together for a multi-school community sharing. Jakey commented:
It is surprising that other students [from different schools] know the same dances as them, and they are standing next to each other doing the same choreography. At the performances, you hear a lot of positive verbal feedback, “That was amazing!” You will see siblings and parents dancing too. This tradition brings families in. People are generally very excited and you will see people practicing. Some teachers started crying when they watched their students dancing-either all school or individual classes. They get emotional. I would like to find a way to create some kind of pen pal program, where they [students] can write to each other before and then come and dance.
Another thing Jakey is very proud of are her yearly blogs that bring educators, parents, and administrators together virtually to celebrate student creativity. They also provide an opportunity for her to reflect as openly and honestly about what is happening in the field of dance education, and share her challenges and successes as an itinerant dance teacher.
“I always thought going into this work that any body can dance. Once in awhile there are a few students who don’t participate, but in general it is incredibly accessible, mobilizing and uplifting.”
To Learn more about Jakey Toor and the work she is doing in SFUSD visit her blog:
Artists In The Classroom: http://www.artistsintheclassroom.com/
Her blog for 2016-17: http://artistsintheclassroom8.tumblr.com
In 25 years, Luna has worked with hundreds of teachers who we’re now proud to say are teaching all around the globe.
From Emily Blossom to Jakey Toor, our past Professional Learning colleagues are collectively and cumulatively teaching tens of thousands of children. We’re sharing their stories, about how they continue to positively impact the dance education field, the future, the world.