To My Dance Students: You've Thanked Me, Now It's My Turn To Thank You

To My Dance Students: You've Thanked Me, Now It's My Turn To Thank You

The thoughts my dance students deserve to hear.

I always conclude my dance classes by saying "thank you" to my students. Afterward, I hear a collective "thank you" in response. Then I'll typically have 4-5 students approach me to give thanks personally or give me a hug. Sometimes I'll have the older students who shout their appreciation as they leave or sometimes I'll get a message after class. I understand why they tell me thank you. As teachers, we give a lot of ourselves to our students on a daily basis. But I'm not entirely sure my students know why I give them my thanks and appreciation after every class.

You give every passing day worth. No matter how old you get, no matter how many years ago you graduated, you'll still be one of my "kids." I'll always love you as my own. I spend more time with you than my family. You give my life purpose and I look forward to spending time with you day after day. I never get tired of walking into the studio to see your bright smiles and hello's. Thank you.

You give me the opportunity to change you for the better. By letting someone like a dance teacher into your life, you're in for a lot of change. We'll challenge and push you to achieve things you never thought you could. You may have been nervous or anxious to let me in, but you did anyways. You gave me the chance to make a difference in your life. Thank you.

You trust me. I can't even imagine the number of times you've thought I'm absolutely nuts. But you never say anything. You never question me, my decisions, or my authority. You take in my instruction and listen to my words. You trust I have your best interest in mind and you should because believe me, I do. Thank you.

You give the most undeniable effort. You're here dancing 6 days per week. I know you're tired. But never once do I hear you complain. Never do I hear a sigh or huff of frustration or annoyance -- even when I pull "one more time" six times in a row (you know this is a "class dance teacher" line). If you're fatigued, I could never tell. You push so hard and never even consider marking the choreography. I keep you late, I say "do it again", and you just do it. No questions asked. Thank you.

You help me become a better teacher. I learn just as much from you as you learn from me. The countless lessons and take-aways are what help me be the best educator and role model I can be for you. Different strategies, patterns, and phrases to keep you on your toes challenge me to stay ahead, think differently, and improve my methods. Thank you.

You are a sure-source of happiness and laughter. How could I not be happy walking into a room of beautiful people who share the same passion as myself? Your intelligent questions, ability to retain corrections, and funny jokes leave me beaming. Don't even get me started on the joy I feel when the "light bulb" moment happens or when things just "click." It's indescribable. Thank you.

Your sacrifice of time and a social life doesn't go unrecognized. No time for homework, no time for sleep, or for anything outside of dancing. You have weekend rehearsals, 5-day competitions, conventions, and other commitments that don't leave you much time for anything else. Yet you still make the choice to be here, working hard. You come in on your one day off to practice. You struggle to memorize your tap steps in your bedroom at midnight. You spend your Friday nights in lessons with me taking corrections and perfecting your solo. You live and breathe dance. That isn't an easy feat being a teenager -- especially as you battle temptations. Thank you.

You respect me. You don't talk back. You don't roll your eyes (to my face at least). You take what I say, listen, and accept it. You make the necessary changes. You value my opinion and take my words as important and worthy of considering. Thank you.

You are always eager and excited to work hard. It really does make a huge difference. I thrive off of good energy and positive vibes in class. When you're just as excited as I am to have a productive and awesome rehearsal, we can only go up from there. Thank you.

You never fail to bring my visions to life. No matter how crazy and out of reach they seem, you still hear me out. You still support me and my ideas. You (somehow) take my unrealistic and risky concepts and bring them to life. You make my dreams a reality. Thank you.

Cover Image Credit: Original Photo

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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