This week I will be honoring the life and legacy of dance educator, Kate Kuper. I met Kate 13 years ago as a dance major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Knowing that teaching was a passion of mine, a professor highly recommended that I take Kate’s new course “Creative Dance for Children”. Soon after the course started, Kate asked if I would be her assistant for the remainder of my time at UIUC.
Not only did Kate teach me the most effective and developmentally appropriate way to teach children, we also did many things together outside of the classroom. We took trips to the fabric store to find the perfect material for scarves and stretchy bands. We travelled to the area public schools where I watched Kate’s classroom management skills work like magic in a gym filled with energetic students. And, every Saturday morning, we invited the community children to come take class with us where Kate taught us, hands on, how to be the best teacher we can be. Because of her knowledge and the passion she shared, it was an easy decision to follow her path and make teaching my life’s work.
In November of 2016 I decided to make DiscoverDance official. I nervously sent Kate a sample of my curriculum. I knew if Kate approved of my work I could move forward with confidence. She responded “It’s so great to know that your work has evolved so spectacularly. I’m proud to have been a part of that.” With those words, I plunged into this journey!
Two weeks later, on November 18th, 2016, I received the devastating news that Kate had passed away. I wish I could tell her that since first reaching out, I have had the opportunity to share the curriculum she so heavily inspired at a teaching training conference, and that DiscoverDance is now being taught in studios across the United States. I wish she could see the nearly 3,000 online followers receiving early childhood tips I’ve developed from the fundamental guidance she gave me. There is no doubt that if I had not walked into her class 13 years ago, DiscoverDance would not exist and for that I am forever grateful for Kate Kuper.
Join me this week as I post my favorite Kate Kuper music and activities. She has brought so much joy and fun to my early childhood classes. I know you will be inspired!