Sat, 15 Feb 2020
STRICTLY Come Dancing star Ian Waite waltzed his way in to St John the Evangelist Infant and Nursery School in Newbury last week to give pupils a masterclass.
Mr Waite stepped in to encourage youngsters to take up dance, teach them moves and watch their progress.
The session ended with a whole school cha cha cha.
Mr Waite, who was born in Reading and lives in Berkshire, is a patron of the National Association of Teachers of Dancing (NATD), which is promoting dance teaching in schools and supporting its members to do so.
Mr Waite wanted to show his support by visiting local schools where NATD teachers are delivering high-quality dance.
Leanne Herdman, from Turn to Dance, teaches pupils at St John’s and St Nicolas and also runs after-school lessons.
St John’s acting headteacher Heather Whiting said Mr Waite’s trip was pretty amazing.
She said: “We were really lucky to have the visit. Some of the children might not know who he is, but it was the fact that he came and he danced with them and watched the children dance.
“Strictly came to St John’s. He had the whole school and the children asked him questions about his favourite dance.
“He showed them a few bits and pieces and we did a whole school cha cha cha, which was really lovely.
“It was an amazing experience for the children – they were so excited.”
Mrs Whiting said Mr Waite gave a short talk, encouraging more boys to take up dance and said he was really pleased with the pupils’ performance.
Mrs Whiting said that many children at the school attended Mrs Herdman’s classes, which gave them confidence to take part and to follow instructions.
Mrs Herdman said: “I absolutely loved it. He was great and he gave the most amazing message to the children, teaching them that if you work really hard you can achieve anything.
“The children absolutely loved it. The staff and teachers loved it, it was great.
“I don’t have a male teacher so it was nice for the pupils to have a male role model.
“The school has been really supportive of me coming in and teaching the NATD to their students and are very supportive of bringing dance to the school.”
She added: “He didn’t have to come, but I think he came because he genuinely cares about inspiring children.”
Kate Kearns from NATD said: “It was an amazing afternoon, staff and students thoroughly enjoyed themselves.”
To learn more about the NATD Outreach into Education project, contact Mrs Kearns at email@example.com
Contact Mrs Herdman at firstname.lastname@example.org for more about her dance classes.