It has been a pleasure working with Local Motions over the last two years. My school, Catalyst Circle-Rock, partnered with this amazing organization to bring music, dance and culture to our 7th grade students. As the seventh grade teacher, I have had the opportunity to interact with Mrs. O’Neil and her team. The staffs are extraordinarily gifted and really know how to work well with children. They shared their gifts and talents and encouraged the students to do the same.
I have watched my students grow and develop through the program. The children were able to learn more about their history through the memorization and research of African American heroes. It was inspiring to see how much pride they took in their speaking parts and the confidence which manifested in their oral presentations. Our students were able to learn traditional African dance and songs and celebrated their culture through movement and music. Students took a hand on approach in creating the costumes and set design. Not only were they able to wear beautiful outfits, they also were able to take pride in the fact that they assisted in its creation.
Many of my students have never had the opportunity to perform for their peers. The rehearsals and ultimate performance forced them outside of their comfort zone and enlightened them to the many talents that they possessed. Our school community has been continually delighted with our performances and it gives the younger grades something to look forward to in seventh grade. I am thrilled to have worked with this organization over the last two years and I look forward to continuing our work into the future.
What can I say about Local Motions that hasn’t already been said? One thing that I can tell you is when the administration of Catalyst Circle Rock brainstormed on how we wanted our Fine Arts classes to be conducted, D’Lana O’Neal and Local Motions fit the bill perfectly.
The Catalyst Schools team up with community partners to provide enrichment and arts programming for students in our Renaissance classes. This approach to molding the entire child through education and fine arts is how I met D’Lana O’Neal several years ago at our Howland Campus. When I transferred to our Circle Rock campus, I was able to bring in D’Lana and Local Motions to minister to our 7th grade class.
I said, minister, because this is what D’Lana and her workers do for the students of Circle Rock. They not only teach the art of dance, song and drama but they are mentors to students who need mentoring; encouragers to students who need encouragement and care givers to students who just need someone to care about them. As we all know, schools can’t give children everything they need, we need help. It’s organizations like Local Motions who take up the slack and help educators give our children what they need and deserve.
I commend the entire organization of Local Motions for the fine job that they are doing for the children of Austin and Circle Rock in particular. As we strive to make our students “agents of change” through education and character, they get a real life model of caring and responsibility from D’Lana O’Neal and Local Motions.
I am a true believer in the importance of arts education. As a product of learning the arts at an early age, I know firsthand how much of a positive impact the arts are on the youth. As a child receiving arts education, I learned about the history that is involved in the arts as well as discipline, perseverance, and confidence. My mind was introduced to so many new and exciting things that many of my friends were not able to enjoy. In the fifth grade I joined my school’s band which played a major role in my life for a long time. I loved playing my clarinet; being a part of something bigger than simply going to school every day made me feel special. I also grew up in the Local-Motions program and was exposed to many art forms. I especially loved creating the sets and making costumes. Once I out grew the program, I began to work there during my summers and was excited about giving back to the younger children what I had received from the organization.
As I am now a recent college graduate, I look back and see how many opportunities were given to me because of the arts education that I received. Local-Motions provide the very same opportunities to many children. They get to experience several types of arts education every day. I have seen the transformation of the children who walk into the doors of Local-Motions. Many of them become more positive, enthusiastic, and their behavior improves as well. Arts education is essential to the advancement of children and
I whole-heartedly believe in its ability to change and shape lives.
My name is Leah Yancy. When I first came to Local-Motions I was very quiet. I didn’t talk much, or do much of anything. As time went on I began to change inside and out. Being a part of this program gave me a sense of belonging. As I met others in the program, I realized how much we all had in common. We began building strong relationships that continued to grow outside the walls of Local-Motions. There was one girl in the program who I found myself always arguing with, and I didn’t know why. She was very confident, a good dancer, and had a lot of friends. She would teach me dances, encourage me, spend time talking with me about my character and what things she saw in me that I needed to change. Of course I didn’t receive it well, but looking back I saw that it was a good thing although it didn’t feel as good at the time. I also realized the real reason behind the arguing as well. It wasn’t anything she had done to me, it was me looking at her and seeing how free spirited she was. I desired being that way but at the same time I was trapped by my own fears of going after what I wanted. She has become one of my closest friends, her name is Nikki.
Working with the staff and the other children helped me to realize and appreciate the talents I have. I have become more confident and began speaking up about what I needed and wanted when the time came. Being a part of the program has allowed me to enjoy dance, drama, and learning how to express myself.
Coming to Local-Motions has made a big impact on my life.