It’s easy to feel worthless – even in the fifth grade.
That’s a lesson Park Cities Baptist Church mom Amy McKleroy is learning.
Last year, McKleroy was looking for a way to share a biblical lesson of service with her 8-year-old daughter, Hanna. She found inspiration at a back-to-school event her church hosted at Jack Lowe Sr. Elementary School in Vickery Meadows – Dallas’ most ethnically diverse neighborhood, and also its poorest.
In the days following, McKleroy said the “there has to be more I can do” message continually played in her brain.
With a passion for dance and a pang in her heart over the fact that while her daughter can afford to take dance classes there are many children who can’t, McKleroy’s “what can I do’s” turned into a plan.
“The number one thing that’s important to me is to love others and treat others the way you want to be treated,” she said from a window-lined classroom at Jack Lowe.
In the background, a handful of fifth grade girls moved their bodies to the slowly building anthem “Space Between” by Dove Cameron and Sofia Carson. Among the girls was Hanna.
That message from Luke 6:31, to treat others the way you want to be treated, is important to McKleroy and one she wants to pass on to her daughter.
“It’s how I want Hanna to treat others,” she said. “It’s the way I treat others, and that’s really it.”
The dance the girls are perfecting is one meant to evoke the emotions one would feel if bullied. In it, Hanna portrays a child being picked on. Through the stories, the other girls go from turning a blind eye to the mistreatment to banning together to lift Hanna up.
McKleroy said she picked the topic because bullying is something all children face.
“The hope, though, is to tell the story of all the girls rallying around,” she said.
Sandra Barrios, principal at Jack Lowe, said the dance team has given the girls something where they can blossom into young ladies.
“The girls are constantly striving to pass classes and do their very best so they can participate in dance,” Barrios said. “We feel this class has transformed their way of thinking, given them a higher sense of self-esteem and confidence, as well as keeping the girls off the streets and engaged in something positive. We are very grateful for Ms. McKleroy.”
The students agree.
Sadana Khadka, a student in the class said McKleroy makes her feel important.
“Like I’m not invisible,” she said; words that took McKleroy by surprise.
“They never said that to me, and it just blows my mind,” she said with tears welling in her eyes. “It’s huge. You don’t know what kind of impact you’re having when you do something like this, but to hear that, it makes it so worthwhile.”