January 22, 2024 | Albuquerque Journal
By Christy Sigmon, Retired Principal
For 13 years, I had the privilege of watching my students at Janet Kahn School of Integrated Arts learn from and grow through the help of NDI New Mexico. As the first APS school to partner with NDI, we’ve had a longstanding relationship, and NDI came into our school to provide dance education to our fifth graders.
From our first interactions, NDI blew me away, but most importantly, I was able to see the profound impact these programs have had on our students. The population of our school is 100% Title I, with a lot of our students facing homelessness or living in Section 8 housing. Many of our students come from difficult backgrounds and have faced significant trauma. However, through their time with NDI, these children were afforded the opportunity to expand their world through art and dance.
By introducing students to a world beyond themselves and their situation, we can level the playing field and break the chain of poverty in small ways. By exposing them to educators who will meet them on their level at their ability, like NDI does, we open doors and allow them to experience a transformational rise of confidence. Providing them these experiences at an early age can help to make them want more out of life.
The difference in our students was noticeable. In fact, attendance grew on NDI practice days. The patient, all-inclusive approach of NDI, along with the dynamic nature of exposing children to the arts, created an atmosphere in which our kids were excited to learn, were engaged in expressing themselves, and where they could learn to work together as a team. In today’s society, where devices are everywhere, NDI’s work in our school and others provides kids a real-life chance to connect, encourage one another, and grow together.
Each year, the grand finale end-of-year show features their hard work, and each year, seeing the success the kids felt as they received standing ovations was an incredible, powerful experience.
I applaud the work NDI has done at Janet Kahn School of Integrated Arts and the many schools they partner with, and I look forward to seeing the continued positive impact across the state of New Mexico.
As we prepare this next generation for a successful future, arts education is imperative, and I encourage all to learn more about NDI and see how they can support these life-changing programs.