Julie Hammond White, associate professor and director of Dance Education at The University of Southern Mississippi, was recently chosen to serve a three-year term as a teaching artist with the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC). In this role, White will partner with teachers throughout the state to artfully teach academics.
Teachers from K-12 schools will be able to select White from the MAC Teaching Artist Roster, which consists of three other teaching artists chosen along with White. She will partner with MAC to teach K-12 students and help instruct teachers on how to teach academics artfully, along with instruction of the dance elements and standards, professional development work in assessment and curriculum development and other techniques.
MAC is funded in part by the state and receives considerable funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. These funds enable MAC to financially support eligible arts programs and the work of individual artists in the form of grants.
The MAC application is extensive, highly competitive and consists of several review processes, including an elected consortium of education experts who blind review all applications and decide whether applicants are qualified for the position.
White, who has been teaching dance at Southern Miss for the past 12 years, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in performance from the University of Illinois and a Master of Fine Arts in choreography, as well as Ohio Licensure in K-12 Dance Education, from The Ohio State University. She performed professionally with BalletMet of Columbus, Ohio and has produced work in Ohio and Illinois. White founded and directed a 7th through 12th grade program in dance at a magnet school in Ohio for 10 years.
White has also been selected as a Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education Teaching Artist for the second year where she works with pre-K, kindergarten, first and third graders at Sacred Heart Catholic Elementary. She uses dance to teach reading, storytelling, science, mindfulness and cultures from around the world to the students.
"I try to teach teachers that movement is our first language. It is very natural and not something to fear in terms of integrating it into their instruction. Learning through moving and doing is an important teaching strategy to use," White said.
"Kids need to move. They need to be social. They need to be creative. They need to remain kids, particularly in elementary school. Dance allows this to happen during the learning process in appropriate ways.” White explained. “I believe that a quality education involves study in every art, artful instruction of all academics and that every student deserves this opportunity. Through this work, I seek to educate both students and teachers on all that dance is and can be, and equip everyone to continue to implement it in the classroom long after my visit.”
White went on to say that dance is particularly great for the student who struggles to sit still and pay attention. “Dance becomes an outlet for their energy and offers an alternative and interactive way to learn. This brings much needed balance to traditional instruction defined by excessive sitting and testing.”
For more information about Southern Miss Dance, visit www.usm.edu/dance.