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How the middle school experience is changing with Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio: Education Station with 3News' Maureen Kyle

The goal of Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio isn't to just teach dance. It's meant to teach kids how to get along with others.

CLEVELAND — In an era of technology takeover, sometimes going “old school” gives kids the best lessons. In today's "Education Station," 3News' Maureen Kyle visits with Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio to see how they are changing the middle school experience.

This isn't the typical middle school class. Well, at least it hasn't been typical for decades.

Ballroom dancing: Tango, foxtrot, the merengue, all in step together.

Jojo Carciopolo is the Founding Executive Director of Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio. She goes into schools all across the region, getting 5th and 8th graders to take a step out of the box and get a social/emotional lesson.

“We live in a text message society and we don't speak verbally,” says Carciopolo, “Everything is electronically communicated. And so students, having to -- in real time -- interact with another human being, what it looks like to make that interaction to make eye contact.”

The COVID pandemic definitely had its challenges, but using jump ropes for physical distance, the kids still connect and work together, whether friend or foe.

“And the interesting thing about our program is that our students never have a permanent partner, so every couple of minutes, our circles are rotating with the idea that you might be able to tolerate the person you're with in one moment, but in five minutes you might be with someone who for a whole host of reasons, it's a little more challenging,” says Carciopolo.

But does it work? Ask 5th grader Sahreniti Sincere.

“It felt weird because some people I don't get along with and it just was weird,” she told us.

But now that she’s been paired up with someone she wasn’t friends with, it’s changed their relationship.

“Because at the end of the day we still gonna have to pair up, so you might as well just get over it,” says Sahreniti.

Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio has been around for 14 years. It's funded by donations and any school can sign up.

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Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous Education Station story on March 23, 2022.

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