Fifth-grade students are learning social skills through a 10-week dance program at an Ohio STEM academy. The Dancing Classrooms program teaches students to do the tango, rumba, waltz, fox trot, swing and merengue — and particularly targets at-risk students.  

Yes, Kaliegh Justus has learned to rumba. Nihemma Deloach can fox trot gracefully. But the moves, the music and the fact that the kids know that the tango came from Argentina are just perks.

Look around the Linden STEM Academy classroom, and you’ll see fifth-graders who eagerly hold one another’s hands, look one another in the eye and move in close in fine dance formation.

You’ll hear “please” and “thank you” and see every single kid standing straight and tall. Proud.

Through a 10-week, twice-weekly course called Dancing Classrooms, about 25 Linden students have learned the tango, rumba, waltz, fox trot, swing and merengue. They have a few more classes left, but they nearly have it nailed.

“I think it’s fun. You learn all kinds of dance moves,” said Kaliegh, who is 10. “I’ve learned to be respectful to others.”

The program’s goal is to teach social skills — basic etiquette, how to look people in the eye and be confident — through dance. This is the first central Ohio school that has tried it, though the program is well-known in other states and in the Cleveland area.

Dancing Classrooms aims for kids such as those at Linden STEM.

Continue reading about how students learn social skills in a dancing classroom.

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