Giving back is an essential part of the culture at Dancing Moose for teachers, students and parents. Our team is constantly bringing forward ideas on how we can best give back to the community and to build awareness in our students of the needs in their local and global community.
Community outreach at Dancing Moose is instigated by the teachers within our community. Teachers are eager to help and have their voices heard in regards causes that are important to them. The tight knit culture at Dancing Moose contributes to having families on board with these causes, and as a result we regularly surpass our fundraising goals.
Recent examples include:
- Sodas for Sabrina: a soda fundraiser raised $2,300 for a long-time family at Dancing Moose who lost their young mother to complications from the flu
- Ronald McDonald House: a group of teachers prepared and served lunch at the Ronald McDonald house at Primary Children’s Hospital
- Love for Liam: several thousands of dollars were raised to help with medical expenses for an employee’s son who underwent open heart surgery at 7-months-old
- Refugee Family Shopping Spree: a group of teachers went on a shopping spree sponsored by Dancing Moose to purchase much-needed school clothes and coats for a refugee family
- Ronin’s Animal Roundup: stuffed animals were collected in memory of a student who passed away in his sleep and donated to local fire and law enforcement departments to keep in their cars for children in traumatic situations
- Love for Lincoln: fundraiser raising over $1000 for a cancer treatment for a child of a toddler teacher
- Stuffed Moose Sale: stuffed moose were sold to raise money for cancer treatment of a husband of a preschool teacher
- Utah Food Bank: classrooms participate in several food drives throughout the year
Season for Giving
During the November and December, Dancing Moose teachers share lessons on gratitude and the importance of giving. Teachers, parents and students come together to find a wide variety of ways to serve in the community. In 2017 these programs included:
- The Road Home: students donated clothing items, diapers, and coats
- Project Sleep Tight: students gathered and prepared 25 bags with blankets and stuffed animals
- Scholastic Pajama Drive: families donated 87 pairs of new pajamas for less fortunate children
- Dominican Republic Toy Drive: students collected over 100 new and gently used toys for children in the Dominican Republic
- Dancing Moose Families in Need: six families in the Dancing Moose Community were identified and received wonderful Christmas gifts through an adopt a family tree
Building a Strong Teacher Culture
Dancing Moose is committed to creating a strong teacher culture where teachers feel valued and at home. This is done in a variety of ways but begins with regular feedback forums for teachers to share how their needs can be better met. Following these forums (surveys, regular meetings and contract review meetings) there is a strong commitment to innovative the teacher community. Examples of this includes:
- An extensive wellness program that includes classes in yoga, self love, meditation, high fitness and leadership.
- A daily lunch with their students at no-cost.
- Annual February Campaign for Sunshine where little kind deeds are done through the month such as massages, natural oil seminar, sodas, bagels, movie lunch and henna.
- A comprehensive professional development program where they can elect to participate in collaborative classes to develop their teachings skills through the Rings of Knowledge teacher education program and regular Bite-Sized Learning lunch trainings.
Building a Stronger Education Community
The leadership at Dancing Moose is committed to volunteering their time in the community to collaborate and promote a stronger education community. Founder and President, Joyce Sibbett, Ph.D. has appeared on the television show, Studio 5 (KSL-TV), seven times in 2017 to offer tips and suggestions to help parents at home provide effective social and academic activities for their children.
Executive Director, Jennifer Duffield, was chosen to speak at an International Montessori Conference in March 2017 to a group of 500 educators about her practices to promote teacher retention. The speech was titled, “Be the Administrator Teachers Can’t Leave” and included research she had conducted over a five year span of why teachers leave. The speech featured strategies Jennifer employed to take her teacher retention from 50% to over 90% annually. Jennifer also serves as Secretary for the Utah Montessori Council.
Dancing Moose sponsors annual events to bring the community together. These events include:
- Annual Scarecrow Festival: Each class at both locations creates a garden scarecrow, and families donate a variety of items to be auctioned along with the scarecrows. Dancing Moose provides a delicious dinner for families and the scarecrows and other items are silently auctioned and proceeds from the event are donated to the Dancing Moose Community Garden. Annual proceeds generally exceed $5,000.
- Annual Halloween Carnival: This free event is open to all families and features a transformed school into a special theme. In 2017, the theme was Peter Pan and children enjoyed hands-on experiences from the movie by participating in activities such as games in Nana’s nursery, a flight over London, face-painting in a teepee with Tiger Lily, walking the plank of Captain Hook’s ship and swimming under the ocean with mermaids. Imagination and fun fill the air and is only possible because of the incredible teacher volunteers who put in countless hours into the event.
- Annual Mini Marathon: Each June, Dancing Moose sponsors an annual 1k run to promote healthy living. This includes a training calendar and t-shirt for the run, outdoor games, music, climbing wall, and breakfast. Children love preparing and participating in this “rigourous” fun run.
Dancing Moose sponsored Parent Education classes where parents can learn about implementing new ideas from a variety of topics into their home. Each class also gave parents a take-home kit of materials to implement with their children at home. The class titles in 2017 included:
- Positive Discipline
- Handwriting without Tears
- The Not-so-Terrible Twos
- Preschool Reading
- Preschool Math
- Elementary Math
Service learning is an important component of the Dancing Moose curriculum. Classes have participated in numerous service learning projects but most of all, teachers are committed to teaching children to be mindful of their classmates and community through a character development program. Some examples of service learning include:
- Field trips to pick up garbage on lands surrounding Dancing Moose.
- Daily field experiences to care for the Dancing Moose garden during growing season.
- Designated peer tutoring, where older children assist in teaching younger children.
- Moose Reading Buddies, where elementary students visit preschool and toddler classes to read to them.