Saint Mary's College of California
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Weekly Reflection Paper No. 8 of 10
LEAP 198 Senior Project
Student Supervisor of the Glendale Community College
Survey of Dance Teaching Methodology Class
Weekly Reflection Paper No. 8
There is no doubt that having a few days off from taking care of obligations related to interning as the DANCE 107 Student Supervisor has been welcome. However, being granted some time off does not mean I was enjoying margaritas on the Mexican Riviera. The enforced exile from hard work, thanks to Dora, came at the best time. I believe she told me to “take a break…you’ve done more than enough…” She knew I was heading out to Santa Rosa Island for some hard-core, physically intense, volunteer work with the Channel Island Restoration Group. Dora knows I have been getting very restless without exercise, sitting for long periods of time in all my classes, and at home sitting in front of the computer, working on projects and writing papers. She also knows that we share a similar mindset: while in movement, we have some of the best mental clarity.
I couldn’t wait to head off to the island to get off the beaten path to clear my mind in beautiful, unforgiving, territory. I knew I would come back recharged and ready to tackle what needed to be tamed in preparation for the students’ final exams.
Though I had minimal down-time on the island, I had enough down-time to afford myself the luxury to head out alone before dawn for a three mile scamper along the coast to watch the sunrise from the pier. The solitude allowed moments for me to reflect on how far I’ve come in over twenty years. Though I’ve come so far from when I was a 19 year old student at Glendale Community College, struggling to survive on my own, with no family, no car, an apartment of my own, and a 40 hour work week that was driving me nuts, I am back in the same place. The reflection gave me the opportunity to realize that I was once just like the young struggling dance students I was assisting Dora with, in the DANCE 107 class.
Standing on the pier on my last morning on the island, I couldn’t help but empathize with the students. I remembered what it was like when I had been a young college student-confused, unsupported, without direction, but with a desire to dance. The memories reminded me of last week and how Dora and I became aware that several of the dance majors are experiencing some intense personal and familial struggles. Thinking of their struggles reminded me of how the nineteen year old “me” navigated the turbulent waters of tying to balance school, finances, and my love for dancing. I know I managed because of how I had been impacted by some wonderful dance educators: Terry Markwell, Lynn McMurrey, Dora, Claude Thompson, Cameron English, Kim Blank, etc.
Though I remember those teachers fondly, it is not because they were easy on me. In fact, they never lowered their standards to accommodate any of my “issues.” They didn’t “accommodate my issues” because they didn’t know about my issues. It is only now that I am back a Glendale that Lynn and Dora now know that at nineteen, my Grandma who had raised me had had a stroke, and mother was dying as I was failing my academic classes, yet coming to any dance class I get to.
Stepping away from the students while I was gone helped rejuvenate my desire to help mentor the ones who work hard and demonstrate a passion for dance. I was also able to whip up the documents “DANCE 107 4 Week Workshop Written Assignment” and “DANCE 107 Getting to Moodle,” so quickly because I pretty much mapped them out in my head while I was collecting acorns from Santa Rosa Scrub Oaks. I will continue to do my best to guide the others who lack a decent work ethic and appear to be a bit lost, and perhaps, twenty years from now, they will remember the advice Dora and I gave this semester.