Trinity Grad Partners Love of Teaching with Dance

DanceMatt Smigaj ’10 teaches kids to dance. They are being introduced to the art of ballroom dance.

Over the summer, Smigaj, a graduate of Trinity’s education program, led a four-week ballroom dance camp for kids in 3rd through 6th grades at Dance Images in Tinley Park, Illinois.

Nine of his 10 students were from Christa McAuliffe Elementary School where Smigaj completed his student teaching requirement while at Trinity.

During his student teaching, he taught a three-week ballroom dance unit at Christa McAuliffe. Smigaj then created an after-school ballroom dance club. His students had the opportunity at the end of the year to perform for the whole school, as well as for family and friends.

“I put on two ballroom dance assemblies, and I even got the superintendent to come,” said Smigaj. “It was a huge success.”

The response from parents and teachers was positive. Smigaj received letters commenting on how the dance class had made a difference in the lives of the students, some of whom exhibited marked improvement in their self-confidence and in their social skills.

“Dancing teaches coordination, teamwork, respect for a partner, and self-esteem,” said Smigaj.

In addition to leading summer camps for kids, Smigaj, whose career goal is to be a physical education teacher, also volunteers at basketball camps run by former NBA player Phil Henderson, who founded the All American Basketball Academy. The basketball camps serve students from the ages of 6 to 18 and emphasize character and player development.