By Julia Richter, Choose Love C.A.R.E.S. Implementation Coach
I was privileged to onboard Choose Love programming at Curtis Strange Elementary School in Kenosha, WI in late August 2021 by facilitating 4 hours of Choose Love CARES Professional Developments to staff. It was such a gratifying experience to return to Curtis Strange Elementary for I previously taught 4th grade at Curtis Strange from 1999-2006, and so it felt as if I was coming “home,” yet this time to support the implementation of Choose Love programming and also to teach Danceworks Mad Hot Rhythm to 4th and 5th grade classes (a program I taught for the past 13 years in inner city schools of Milwaukee WI). Starting in October 2021, I began teaching 4th and 5th grade students on a weekly basis hip hop, Latin, salsa and swing dance routines together as a class during gym class. Research shows that music and movement helps us think better, and helps to relieve pain, stress and symptoms of depression. Neurotransmitters in our brain called endorphins are released and brain chemicals called dopamine, and serotonin are released which play an important role in helping you to feel better. I loved it when their classroom teachers shared how their students were in a much better mindset after they came from my classes as a result. Through this programming, students also learned how to work together as a team, cultivate strong connections, all the while building levels of self esteem, confidence and sense of belonging. It really is such a rewarding experience to be a part of that I am so grateful for.
Classes met one a week throughout the year and I “had a lot of fun” integrating Choose Love lessons and activities in each and every class. As a culminating activity, I facilitated two all-school Choose Love assemblies where the 4th and 5th grade showcased their dances, while engaging the entire student body in several different Choose Love song/chant/movement activities to showcase what Choosing Love is all about. It was so awesome and heartwarming to hear the whole school chanting the Choose Love formula and shouting from the mountain tops “WE WILL CHOOSE LOVE!” One of my fifth grade students wrote, “Choose Love and dancing changed my life. It has changed my perspective and taught me to be more loving and positive. It made me more courageous to dance with other people. What I loved most about our classes in our Choose Love teamwork games we played. I was scared to try something new, but now I have the courage to try something new. It feels great to dance and Choose Love!”
Check out Julia’s Choose Love Formula Song!
Choose Love C.A.R.E.S. experiential workshops elevate your CSED skills, and in turn transform your school culture.
Julia Richter leads Foundations of Choosing Love, Self Care for Educators, an “experiential” exploration of the foundational components of the Choose Love Formula™, including Post Traumatic Growth, Mindfulness, Growth Mindset, Positive Intelligence, and Neuroscience. In this workshop, participants will enhance their personal mental well-being and professional sustainability through mindfulness/mental fitness and self care practices, while learning complementary therapeutic modalities and fun, creative ways to bring these lessons into their classrooms.