In his fifth-grade
classroom at Coeur d'Alene's Sorensen Elementary, David has
watched some of his students struggle to keep up academically
with their classmates. He's witnessed those same students amaze
friends with their quick mastery of juggling.
activity picks up another group of kids," David says. "Not successful
in school? Try juggling."
David's not preparing
kids with learning problems for careers as street-corner entertainers.
He's offering them a chance to excel, which often leads to better
a tough group was rewarding enough to transform David's enjoyment
of juggling into passion. He became Coeur d'Alene's Pied Piper
of flying beanbags.
Now they want
to take the next step.
"We want to make
it accessible to everyone," David says. "We want to showcase
world-class talent. That costs."
The Coeur d'Alene
kids get formal lessons, books, videos and personal interaction
(at juggling events) with some of the best jugglers of our time.
all his students to enjoy the satisfaction of accomplishment,
so he introduced juggling as a break from studies in 1997. His
students encouraged each other and performed for the school.
In 1999, he started
Monday night juggling gatherings in Sorensen's gym for anyone
interested. Typically, 75 kids and adults showed up to practice
with beanbags, clubs, rings and more.
The start of
a school juggling team was next. David wanted to offer a higher
level performance group for kids interested in juggling out
of the school setting. Fourteen kids signed up.
The team flew
to Philadelphia for an international juggling event, then to
Reno, Nev., for another. The kids raised money from yard work,
drawings and performing. Each performance earns about $150.
Seventy percent of the money goes to the kids for travel expenses.
The rest goes into a group juggling fund.
has embraced juggling," he says. "I'm thrilled with the level
of our youth group. They care for each other. They're feeling
success. People are willing to pay us. It's a wonderful experience.
I use juggling every day in my 5th grade classroom, as study
breaks. 5-7 minutes. Brings back energy to the classroom--
and the teacher. We have family Juggling every Monday night,
6:30-8:00 p.m. During the school year, we meet at school. In
the summer at the park by the lake. 50-70 people
attend during the school year, about 1/3 adults/1/3 kids.
Lessons and equipment provided. Tuesday mornings from 8:00-8:45
we have juggling before school.
My students give
juggling performances -- just a few each year, mainly for the
school, but we always do a nursing home performance and go to
one other school in the district.
Why do I do this?
None of it is quantifiable, but the main reasons I incorporate
juggling in my classroom is that it builds a sense of community
as we all share learning this physical, unusual skill in schools.
Also, there is no doubt it builds confidence, which increases
every time a child learns something that is perceived to be
difficult, which is the case with juggling.
Teaching my students
to juggle gives me a connection with them. They see me
as fun. They see me learning. I have something they want."