HISD Ballroom Dancing

Pilgrim Teachers Keep in Step with Ballroom Dance Program

February 1, 2005

Forget Hollywood—the real “dancing with the stars” is happening every Friday afternoon with a group of HISD teachers.

At HISD’s Pilgrim Elementary School (3315 Barrington), teachers are bonding and losing unwanted holiday pounds in an after-school ballroom dance class.

Sixteen teachers inspired by the district’s “get healthy” programs and Houston Mayor Bill White’s “Get Houston Moving” initiative have been studying ballroom dance at the school every Friday from 3:30-4:30 p.m. under the direction of Sonia Khan Farr, owner of Sonia’s World of Dance studio located in the school’s neighborhood.

In addition to dancing, the teachers have introduced a treadmill and yoga classes to the campus to help them get in shape. Once a week, the school nurse weighs participating teachers and logs their progress.

“We have never laughed as hard as we do in our ballroom dance classes,” said Pilgrim Principal Alma Sarmiento-Salman. “There are six men in the group, so we all clamor to get them as our partners. Really, though, the ballroom dance program is a great way to exercise and build teams. We are finding that the more we do together and get to know each other, the more accountable we become to each other. We get another chance to interact and learn successful techniques to use in the classroom, too.”

Thousands of teachers and other HISD employees are leading healthier lifestyles and getting paid for it by participating in the district’s “Step It Up” and “Eating for Good” programs. They can earn up to $120 a year for working toward a goal of taking 10,000 steps (the equivalent of five miles) a day and improving their daily eating habits.

“Employees who eat healthy and invest in their own well-being consistently perform better at work and miss fewer work days,” said HISD Superintendent of Schools Abelardo Saavedra. “To offer children the best education, we need to help our classroom teachers and all of our employees be at their best every day.”