Elizabeth Andrews: “Why Are You Always So Happy?”

By Elizabeth Andrews

It is 8:00 in the morning. I left my house at 6:30 to drive over an hour in order to be ready when my less-than-exuberant high school students enter the dance studio. They are here for Dance Explorations – a multi-style, beginning level dance course designed for any 9 – 12 grader in the county.

I start the warm-up trying to motivate them with expressive music, witty comments & critique and overall excessive cheeriness. At a break in the movement, one girl raises her hand and asks a very grouchy, angry question that I am sure others in the class were also thinking: “Why are you always so happy?”

She caught me off guard. Did I overdo it with the morning coffee? Was I happy because I really love to dance and therefore it just comes out in my teaching? Nope. It took me a few seconds to form the answer: “Because it’s my job,” I said.

I do believe this. As a teacher, part of my job is to convey an attitude of positivity – of hope for not only the work we do in the arts but for my students as human beings. Part of my responsibility is to cultivate kindness, empathy and understanding for others – I do this through dance. Others do it through music, visual art, or drama.

Here is my wish for all teachers (and especially those of you in the arts): May you have the courage to do what you know is right, the energy to inspire your students with the passion you have for learning and creating, and the patience to do all that is asked of you!

On behalf of the MAEIA community, thank you for all that you do.

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