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Whether in person or online, charter school's dance teacher keeps students moving and grooving

Dance Enrichment Teacher Mandy Kellner is Persistence Preparatory Academy's one-woman physical education department.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The students of Persistence Preparatory Academy in downtown Buffalo love to dance. In fact, it's part of the curriculum. 

Mandy Kellner is the school's one-woman physical education department. As the dance enrichment teacher, she instructs all 230 kindergarten through third graders how to express themselves through movement, as the new charter school grows each year. 

"It's all about finding ways for the kids to kind of buy into the magic," she told 2 On Your Side. "Buy into finding teamwork through choreography, and finding teamwork through moving your body in slow, fast ways, rather than, 'here's a basketball, today we're going to learn how to dribble.'"  

Luckily for Mandy and her students, they don't need much equipment for her Zoom dance classes, which she started up again last week. Persistence Prep is starting the year with two weeks of online learning before moving into a hybrid model, so virtual dance will be around for a while. 

"That's really kind of what we're honing in on this year, is finding dance within ourselves and choreographing things and finding different movements all on your own, you know, rather than making it that team sport." 

Through a rotation of fun props like magic scarves, Mandy is keeping the magic alive until her school can dance together again.

"I definitely let everyone have a chance to find their own ways to move and celebrate that, and give them praise for that. So no matter how they're moving their bodies today is celebrated which boosts confidence, and we always shout out other classmates too, so definitely builds self-esteem and community as well, even silently on virtual." 

Interested in free online dance and yoga classes for kids? Check out some of Mandy's favorite videos: