Featured Grant Story: Ballet Lubbock
What is Ballet Lubbock?
Founded in 1969 by Suzanne Aker, Ballet Lubbock provides classical ballet training to students from age three through adult. The mission of Ballet Lubbock is to change lives. As a pre-professional ballet school, they strive to inspire the community through accessible dance education and performance of the highest artistic caliber.
Ballet in the Schools is a partnership with Communities in Schools (CIS). By providing accessible and free ballet education during/after the regular school day, Ballet Lubbock removes obstacles like cost and transportation for students who may otherwise never have the opportunity to learn ballet. Ballet in the Schools currently provides instruction at ten elementary schools across 6 school districts, with a waiting list of additional CIS campuses requesting Ballet in the Schools programming. The schools Ballet Lubbock serves are as follows:
Alderson Elementary School
Bayless Elementary School
Bean Elementary School
Ervin Elementary School*
Cooper Central Elementary School
Willowbend Elementary School
Westwind Elementary School
Shallowater Elementary School*
Roosevelt Elementary School
Wilson Elementary School*
Ballet is offered twice a week during the school day as a regular class at Wilson Elementary School, Ervin Elementary School, and Shallowater Elementary School, and serves as either a physical education or fine arts credit for the students.
The ballet classes that are a part of the regular school day address attendance and transportation issues, but also provide the school district with significant cost savings as 2 hours of instruction time is provided by Ballet Lubbock a week. Ballet Lubbock and the school districts see this model as overwhelmingly positive, and something to replicate and expand upon with additional campuses.
The partnership between CIS and Ballet Lubbock is a proven success, as each organization is able to focus on what they do best. CIS handles all logistics and classroom management, and Ballet Lubbock focuses purely on ballet instruction. The CIS site coordinator is not only in the classroom with the ballet instructor to handle classroom management but works directly with the school principal to provide classroom space and select the specific students to take each ballet class. Students are selected for a semester’s term of dance classes, and must maintain certain attendance, behavior, and academic benchmarks to continue their participation. Attendance is consistent and deliberate, allowing for meaningful development.
Student progress reports furnished by CIS show a significant increase in academic performance and attendance by all students currently participating in Ballet in the Schools. Additionally, research from the Search Institute on developmental assets shows students involved in creative activities, who bond with adults at school, and who are provided clear rules, like the rules in ballet, are 400% more likely to be awarded for academic achievement, 50% less likely to drop out of school, 35% less likely to engage in alcohol or drug use, and 50% less likely to be involved in violence.
Ballet Lubbock in Action
The wife of a board member was out at breakfast with a friend one morning this spring. She had on her Ballet Lubbock cap and jacket and was approached by a waitress in the restaurant. The waitress asked how she was involved with Ballet Lubbock and the board member’s wife explained about her husband’s service on the board, how his passion was for the community outreach programs, and how he had, in fact, also served on the Communities in Schools board and aided in partnering the two organizations to create a program called Ballet in the Schools.
The waitress’s eyes filled with tears as she explained that she has a daughter named Sailor who attends an elementary school in Frenship ISD. In previous years, Sailor did not enjoy school. She was teased, bullied, and frequently made excuses as to why she could not or should not attend school that day. Then, Sailor began ballet through Ballet in the Schools. Her mother said she witnessed a “180” in Sailor’s behavior and attitude towards school. The unhappy child who avoided her elementary school disappeared and has been replaced by a confidence, young student who has met new friends and looks forward to each new day – especially on ballet day.
By the end of the conversation, the entire table was in tears. A fellow Ballet in Schools student named Ruth sums up their experience the best, “I chose ballet because I wanted to pick a sport. I had no idea it would bring me this far!”