In step with teaching artist Luisa Nayhouse

By Luisa Nayhouse

Ms. Luisa prepares students from Pittsburgh Whittier K-5 for competition in May 2011

It’s been just over a year since I trained with Pierre Dulaine in New York City to become a teaching artist for Dancing Classrooms.

The fall 2011 semester was especially meaningful to me. When we started at Pittsburgh West Liberty in September, it seemed as though a few students were on a mission to disrupt our classes. With one term of experience at Pittsburgh Whittier in the spring of 2011, and because of my psychology background, I felt more than prepared to handle and manage the classroom despite the challenges.

The principal and teachers at West Liberty worked closely with me. When our lessons ended and the time came to decide who would compete in the Colors of the Rainbow, it was not easy. We spent hours trying to decide which couples to choose. All of the students did so well over the course of the semester.

On Saturday, I felt like a proud parent.  I was more than pleased — in fact, I was overjoyed — that one of the more boisterous students was able to channel his energy and ultimately compete at the Colors of the Rainbow semi-finals. Not only did he help his team obtain a gold, more importantly, he and the entire class carried themselves with grace and elegance.

I never gave up hope that we could turn around the energy in the classroom and channel it productively and successfully. It truly felt like a labor that came straight from my heart.

It’s a privilege to teach children life skills as well as dance skills, and to live the mission of Pittsburgh Mercy Health System: A Heritage of Hope.

Luisa Marie V. Nayhouse is a teaching artist for Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh and a psychotherapist for Mercy Behavioral Health, part of the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System.

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