As a native Chicagoan and Dance Education graduate from Illinois State University in Bloomington/Normal, Amy Kienberger has been in Minnesota since 2014. Upon graduation, she was recruited here by her former high school choreographer and dance mentor Daphne McCoy (Daphne is on faculty at Carleton College while also running the Northfield Dance Academy where Amy has been teaching ballet and jazz dance). With two degrees in business education and dance education, Amy has been a business teacher at Farmington High School for the past 5 years and choreographs the Farmington High School musicals.
Now that she has built relationships with administration and colleagues at Farmington, she decided to pitch teaching some dance courses. Space, credits, and recruiting students were issues that came up when I interviewed her for our "Teacher Spotlight".
Here's Amy talking about her journey bringing dance into the schools:
"Farmington High School supports teachers and students individual sparks. As a district they encourage personalized learning allowing students to pursue their passions. I started talking to counselors about graduation credits and how adding a dance course could provide more personalized opportunities for our students. I also spoke to the music department hoping to include dance with choir and band programs as it was important to me that dance was included with other fine arts programs.
I was getting lots of positive feedback so in October of 2018 I met with Principal Dan Pickens, and proposed my idea for a Dance Studies fine arts course. I explained my education, experience, and described other successful programs at nearby districts. After that, I had to fill out some forms, get approval, and put Dance Studies in the 2019-2020 registration book. Now I just needed students to sign up for the course.
The best way to allow the most students to take a new elective course is to open it up for all grade levels and offering it for one trimester as opposed to a full year course. Students who are in many electives often do not have space in their schedule for a full time elective and a single trimester course offers flexibility. My goal is to start small, get students into the program, and continue to grow over the next few years. By March 2019 I had 50 students signed up for Dance Studies for the 2019-2020 school year.
Networking and relationships are key to gaining support when starting any new project. The day I started working at Farmington I knew I was lucky to have such a positive and innovative administration. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share my passion for dance education. I’m very excited to see how this program grows, and thankful for everyone’s support.”
One Dance Teacher's way into Public Education: Welcome Amy Kienberger