This past Wednesday, Manchester School fifth grade students gathered in the gymnasium, where they had the unique opportunity to be exposed to Greek culture in a very special way. In two divided sessions, seven classes would be put through the motions of experiencing the art of Greek dancing as part of a Day of Caring. In the past, students had participated in such activities as planting bulbs or cleaning up the playground. Principal Danielle Donnini decided this time to tie Greek dancing in with the social studies program.
“We have a new social studies curriculum that was getting put together. Fourth grade teacher Leah Fischer was instrumental in putting the wheels in motion to enlist an experienced teacher of Greek dance,” said fifth grade teacher Judy Taudvin. “We were able to get local retired teacher Jennifer Frick who actually worked in the district, having taught in the Windham High and primary schools. She knows a lot about the culture, dance and music of Greece, so she was the obvious choice to teach the kids about dancing,” Taudvin continued.
“I received a call from one of the retired teachers who is part of the MEA (Maine Educators Association-Retired). The kids were studying ancient Greece and the school was aware I knew something about Greece, having lived there for two years,” explained Frick.
Pam Lanz was that retired teacher enlisted to work on this endeavor. As a member of the MEA-R and Day of Caring, that have been active for over half a century making a difference in those for whom they volunteer by giving back to local schools and the community doing a project every fall, Lanz gladly accepted.
The Day of Caring is an assembly of workers and volunteers that was established following the 9/11 attacks. To this end, the MEA (Maine Education Association-Retired) Day of Caring is a project that is part of community participation. “We encourage our members to be involved in community service and the Day of Caring is our statewide community participation project. We ask each of our county affiliates to do ‘something special’ for a school in their county on or around September 11th annually, said Jan Cerab, the chairperson of community participation.
“Part of the Day of Caring is having the teachers and retired educators working together on projects such as this,” stated Lanz. Manchester School was chosen because she worked in the district for 26 years as a guidance counselor and continues to volunteer her services. ”I wanted to do a project here,” Continued Lanz.
To the tune of eight basic steps, students did their best to keep up with Frick. It was obvious in those struggles, they were also enjoying themselves.
“I love to dance. It was really fun. I would love to do it again,” said student Kaitlyn Farrin, who would like to visit Greece. “I am going to Athens. I love Greece!”
Owen Dakin also enjoyed the experience. “I got a lot out of it. It was really fun. I messed up a little bit.” Everyone did, interjected Farrin. “I’m going to practice when I get to my house and show my parents,” continued Dakin.
They were not alone. “It was really fun. It’s such a joy to see kids start out and learn something new in such a short amount of time; and even if it didn’t look like they were paying attention I knew they all were,” said Frick. This was the first time working with children as she usually teaches within her own age group. “This also gave me a little more information about what works and what doesn’t with this age group. I like to do this with adults too, but once they (children) started to get it and watching them as a group doing it together, I know something is happening,” continued Frick.