Academia

Dancing the Charleston like Beckham

While growing up, I was a little girl looking for a mentor within the school system. I had been labeled gifted and lived in a poverty-stricken neighborhood. Those that could mentor, looked for those to mentor. We would build our community resources through informal relationships and gumption.  I was lucky enough to have about 5 great teachers across elementary and middle school that took a deep interest in me as a student and as a human being. They helped me keep focus, grow, and end up in a private boarding school that led to me reaching where I am at currently. They were good, earnest and devoted teachers. They cared and wanted to make a difference.

I had one teacher in particular, Ms Beckham, who was awesome and willing to do things outside the box.  She once came to school dressed up as snow white in hair rollers to make a point about different standards and understanding of beauty. She rocked our brains. Specifically, she was my seventh grade social studies teacher. She had the unenviable task of trying to get us to care about history when the present was excruciatingly tough for the majority of us. She had to get us to care about how government worked. And she did it.

She wanted us to get a feel for different time periods in our history. She needed to find a cool, innovative way to do so. And she very much managed to do so. She got us all involved by the power of dance.  She would introduce us to different dances throughout history My favorite moment was learning how to dance the Charleston.

To this day, I still dance it and think of those fun moments she brought to our lives while getting our brains to grow and absorb information. She was young and full of vigor.

Sadly, she passed away this week from Cancer. It took her quickly. Amazingly enough, through her death, many of us reconnected after decades of having lost each other. Even in death she still managed to bring us from all corners/walks of life.

I know we all have a favorite teacher or individual that served as a mentor growing up. If only they all did the charleston. You can’t be sad dancing the charleston. Each step forward opens you up to the wirld. Thank you Ms Beckham.

3 replies »

  1. I had Mrs. Lynne La Fleur, who taught Hebrew for a couple of weeks in the middle of my high school Spanish class. Nowadays, when teachers have to “teach to the test”, there is far less opportunity for teachers to be really creative and inspiring like that.

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