Parklane Elementary School: The Beginning of the Centre Dance Program


December 04, 2018

Parklane Elementary School: The Beginning of the Centre Dance Program

Photo by Kim Kenney.

In 1996, Sharon Story, dean of the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education, received a call from Kay Young, the curriculum counselor at Parklane Elementary school at the time, to assist with the school’s most challenging students who were having trouble with being in a normal classroom setting. Categorized as a Title One school, Parklane Elementary sits in the heart of East Point, GA., serving students who are described as “at risk” given the low poverty level and high crime rate in the neighborhood. Dean Story’s answer to improving the academic and behavioral problems: dance and kinesthetic learning techniques, creating the initial focus and vision to all of our Centre Dance community programs.

Atlanta Ballet provided the school with one academic instructor and one dance instructor to teach 18 students from 7:30 to 8:00am before school, in addition to one hour of tutorial in math and reading and one hour of dance after school. The implementation of kinesthetic learning through dance before school provided an avenue for self-expression for these students, along with a focus on building self-esteem and strengthening their levels of discipline. In return, this concept helped improve their attention levels in class and overall learning abilities, as shown in the findings of Nello McDaniel of Arts Action Research. This initial introduction of the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education into Parklane also sparked the creation of the in-school Centre Dance program.

The success of the before- and after-school programs led to the expansion of a full-day program in 2000. In effort to continue supporting those students who transitioned from elementary to middle and high school, the Centre Dance program progressed to Parklane’s feeder schools - Paul D. West Middle School and Tri-Cities High School. In keeping with its mission to provide quality dance education to students of all demographic backgrounds, the Centre for Dance Education grants full-tuition scholarships to 10 students at each Centre Dance location, so that they can enroll in Student Division classes taught at the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education facilities.

Twenty-two years later, the Centre Dance program at Parklane Elementary School continues to thrive, growing to serve 510 students at Parklane Elementary at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. The foundation of the program at Parklane also led to the advancement of Centre Dance, after-school, and high school partnership programs at surrounding metro Atlanta schools and art centers through the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education's Community Programs, led by Community Partnerships Manager Diane Caroll Sales.

The Centre for Dance Education Community Programs serve with the goal of enhancing current programs through the generous support of our corporate and individual donors. We welcome your support and encourage you to explore our full range of Community Programs!