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“We’re teaching them empathy:” Milwaukee charter school offers dance in its curriculum

MILWAUKEE -- It's a question commonly asked of kids: What's your favorite subject in school? Math? Reading? Science? FOX6 News met some students who were quick to point out their favorites include salsa, tango and swing.

There are three inaugural sixth grade classes at the new Milwaukee Excellence Charter School.

"School should be fun, so the rhythm you see in the classroom, is the rhythm that you see 183 school days," said Maurice Thomas, executive director of Milwaukee Excellence Charter School. "Whether it's students snapping for each other or sending love for each other, we're teaching them empathy."

Maurice Thomas, executive director of Milwaukee Excellence Charter School

Student support coordinator Joseph Gallagher

Twice a week in the school's cafeteria, Joseph Gallagher, student support coordinator offers an activity even he did not know would catch on.

In the "Mad Hot Ballroom," professionals from Danceworks, Inc. are brought in to help teach the kids who, for the most part, have not seen anything like this in person before.

Dance class at Milwaukee Excellence Charter School

Dance class at Milwaukee Excellence Charter School

For months, the kids prepared for something very big at the BMO Harris Bradley Center -- a massive dance competition. Milwaukee Excellence had a spot at half-court to size up the competition before they were called to the floor. Then, it was time to salsa in front of 5,000 people.

Each school got three shots to impress the judges. Students were encouraged if they messed up.

Dance competition with Milwaukee Excellence Charter School

In the end, the students in the Milwaukee Excellence number were not called to advance, but they achieved something greater in their teachers' eyes. They made their new school and parents proud.

"I have a new relationship with them. New friendships. That's what it's all about," Gallagher said.

Dance competition with Milwaukee Excellence Charter School