Moore Ballet Teacher Changing Students' Lives

Saturday, May 23rd 2009, 5:47 pm
By: News On 6

By Colleen Chen, NEWS 9 for News On 6

MOORE, OK -- Out of her own pocket, a teacher from Moore is helping to change the lives of students and parents. Her program is a first for an Oklahoma public school.

At Southgate Rippetoe Elementary, much-adored teacher Candace Looper is putting a new spin on special education by teaching ballet to special-needs students.

"Some of them have cerebral palsy one child is deaf and blind, some of them have autism," Looper said.

Through pointed ballerina toes and ballerina arms, this teacher is bringing more than dance moves; she's brought a new perspective.

"Everything says what the children can't do, but what we're doing is showing people that they can do," Looper said.

In one year, Miss Candace's special dreams ballet has gone from idea to class to stage. Timber Dysart's parents once thought an opportunity to shine on stage might not exist.

"Words really can't describe what she has done for me as a parent," mom Michelle Dysart said. "To see my daughter up there, it's just unbelievable."

Each ballerina has a sixth-grade helper, like Paige Guyer, who gives up recess time to work with Miss Candace's kids.

"This is their time to shine," Paige said. "It's meant the world to me just the look on their faces and just what they've learned and what I've learned from them."

What she's learned is perserverance, patience and a new goal.

"I've always wanted to be like a hairstylist person, but now seeing them and how happy they are, I want to be a special-needs teacher," Paige said.

Proof each week Miss Candace has taught lessons well beyond ballet.

"Those things are really important and of course just the fun of being a princess for a half-hour each week," Looper said.

Looper pays for everything in the class out of her own pocket. She hopes to expand the program, and the students have a wish list of things they need.

To learn more, call (405) 735-4480.