Introduction: We are excited to continue our popular Educator Spotlight series, and also to expand it to feature both classroom and office educators who are the heart of Gibbons. In doing so, we offer readers a glimpse of how Gibbons educators care for and engage with students, forming them as men and women of faith, service, and leadership in church and community. So far this year we have spotlighted counselor Susan Ellis, Latin educator Whitney Crabbe, Director of Classroom and Educator Tech Support Rodolfo Argueta, English educator Amy Rokita, and math educator Chris Poisella. Today we spotlight dance educator Brooks Owens.
Walking into Room 133, with its mirrored walls, gray-colored Marley floor, and rack of pink tutus tucked in the corner, is like entering a professional dance studio.
The similarities continue. Enter Brooks Owens, a Gibbons educator for the last 14 years. Poised and graceful she commands the room as she teaches students how to create poetry in motion. She does so by making hard work an equal partner with fun. Her students soak in the knowledge, the moves, the language of dance she willingly shares with them.
At the heart of Owens’ teaching is both her passion for the art form as well as for health and fitness. All those shimmies and shakes burn energy, for sure. However, it is clear she is fully dedicated to helping her students stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit.
On this recent Tuesday afternoon, natural light filters through the windows and techno music saturates the room. Standing at the front of the class Owens is wearing a gray pullover with the words Gibbons Dance, Be Part of It emblazoned on the back.
And her Dance 3 students are all “part of it” during this class. For the next 45 minutes, Owens leads them through everything from warm-ups, including jumping jacks, to dance combinations, replete with kicks, spins, drops, and rolls.
“One, two, three, go,” Owens instructs, and everyone taps their inner Beyoncé and glides across the floor. Everyone also seems to bring a measure of grace and personality to the steps, from tendu and plié, to ronde jambe and passé that Owens calls out to them. Despite a few moans and groans the high energy in the room is matched only by the high kicks.
Good job,” Owens says when the dancers stop and the music ends. Then she moves from student to student gently straightening feet, squaring shoulders, and lifting chins. “Again… heel, ball, toe … put it all together,” she announces, ensuring that the repetition will aid the learning process. The students respond and sashay across the floor at least four more times under Owens’ watchful eye.
To be sure, not all the students will remain dancers for life. However, they will always remember, as Martha Graham famously said, that “dance is the hidden language of the soul.”
Tomorrow, however, they will return to class.