The circus was in town for the past week. Or at least it seemed that way if you went to Philip Simmons Middle School, for the last week the students have been studying Circus Arts with guest instructor Jeffrey Lambdin.
Lambdin, who is a performer by trade, also teaches as a part of a grant known as the Arts and Basic Curriculum Grant also known as the ABC Grant. The grant is funded by the South Carolina Arts Commission and provides schools with up to $15,000 in order to help districts implement standards-based arts curricula.
Lambdin led Charles Atkins’ theatre class in lessons in different circus performances. These included juggling, boxes, the Rola Bola, pole balancing and hat tricks.
Atkins’ said that the activities have a good impact on the students and is a good removal from the regular classroom setting. Atkins said that students normally have to sit in a classroom on laptops or at a desk. However, the Circus Arts allow for the students to move around and be active while having fun.
“Every kid in here (the classroom) is doing something and they are having a good time,” Atkins said.
Lambdin said that the Circus Arts are important to teach students about persevering and always trying. He said that the students often have trouble in the beginning of the lessons and become familiar with not succeeding, but always keep going and eventually improve.
“They become acquainted with failure and then they keep going,” Lambdin said.
Lambdin also said that the Circus Arts are a good lesson because everyone starts out at the same level and are able to grow and succeed as a group.
“It’s a level playing field, this is a new experience for everybody,” Lambdin explained.
Atkins said that the ABC Grant that Philip Simmons Middle School receives is used to bring in professional artists each semester to teach a course in a unique subject. He said that it is important for the students to meet a professional artist and also having Lambdin in the classroom provides a unique experience and point of view. The students are able to expand what they have learned and also grow through learning more unique skills. Atkins also said that Lambdin helps him as an educator by teaching the students things that he might not be able to properly.
“I’m good at what I do, but I don’t do Circus Arts,” Atkins said.
The students said that the exercises in Circus Arts helped them to learn a lot of new thing. Student Audrea Fiest said that she learned balance, self-discipline and focus others said that they learned about the importance of practice and hard work.
Lambdin said that it is good to see that schools like Philip Simmons are taking the time to bring in professional artists and show the children different options for their future, but also demonstrate important life skills like communication and working together in a group.