Photo Credit: Facebook @mrsortosclass
Do you remember your favorite teacher in school? At one
point in our lives, we’ve all had that one teacher who cared enough to think
outside the box in order to make learning fun. Luckily, kindergarten students
at KIPP Promise Academy in Washington, D.C. are already learning from a teacher
that I’m sure they will remember for the rest of their lives. Edwin Sorto not
only teaches his students math and science, but he’s also found a way to
incorporate dance lessons into their afternoons in an effort to give the kids a
Born in El Salvador, Sorto came to the United States at the age of 14. He grew up in a family where dance was part of everyday life. In addition to Latin dancing, he also dabbled in breaking as a kid. Sorto feels that it’s best to learn how to dance when you are young because kids tend to pick up dance moves like a sponge, whereas adults can sometimes let their inhibitions take over. Today, Sorto’s day job may be a kindergarten teacher, but in his spare time he travels the country performing salsa with his team Casineros. Additionally, he also performs with Cazike, a Latin dance company run by his wife who also teaches at KIPP Promise Academy.
Before he began teaching, Sorto worked in construction management but left that career to enroll in the Capital Teaching Residency, which trains new educators in the DC area. He was paired with a more experienced teacher for one year at KIPP Promise Academy and then was allowed to create his own lesson plans. Now, groups of 25 to 30 students meet with Sorto every day for his special afternoon classes where he leads PE, art, and cultural activities.
In his fourth year of teaching at Kipp Promise Academy, a primarily black charter school in southeast Washington, D.C., Sorto believes that dance instruction allows him to offer his students a more complete curriculum. “I’m focused on building the next generation of dancers through my own students,” Sorto told USA Today in an interview. In addition to learning the necessary core subjects, the kids are now allowed to take a break from academics to express their creativity through salsa, bachata, and merengue. Early on, Sorto was able to see that dance class built his students’ self-esteem up and allowed them to learn social skills at a very young age.
When I first discovered Sorto and his innovative teaching methods, I was amazed at how many views his Facebook videos receive. Do yourself a favor and visit @mrsortosclass on Facebook. I guarantee the bond that Sorto has with his students will put a smile on your face. “They work incredibly hard at both academics and dance and they absolutely deserve recognition,” Sorto told USA Today. Let’s hope that Sorto’s success with bringing dance education to his students at an early age will be an inspiration for more schools to jump on the bandwagon and do the same.