Skilly-do ♥ Creative Early Educators - Jody Cassell
28 June 2018
Today we’d like you to meet Jody Cassell, a remarkable art educator working throughout North Carolina’s Triangle area. Here’s Jody’s advice for encouraging your young one’s creativity: “Children will have employment that we have never dreamed of. They will create adventures unknown to us. Let us fertilize their growth. That is my mission. That is my suggestion to parents. Please support your child without judgement as long as it is safe to all.” Let’s find out more about Jody, her classes, art and passion for teaching ...
Jody has been leading creative movement-based learning for over four decades. She trained with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts where she was also Master Artist, training educators in creative movement for a decade. Jody also has an M.F.A. in Dance from NYU School of the Arts and a M.S. in Dance/Movement Therapy from Hunter College of the City University.
You can find Jody at the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Community Studios where she teaches creative dance classes infants to 3-year-olds with caregivers and 4- to 5-year-olds without a caregiver in the room. She’s also a teacher with the North Carolina Museum of Art’s What’s in the Box? Preschool adventures. Jody also offers workshops with the North Carolina Arts Council, United Arts of Raleigh and Wake County, and the Durham Arts Council's Creative Arts in Public and Private Schools. You can explore Jody’s artwork, performances, school-based residencies and more on her website here: movingYOUtolearn.com. Dance on, Jody!
Why did you want to teach young children about art?
The arts connect us to our felt sense of our self, the part of us that can not be verbally described. When I can lay the foundation for that connection, I help someone become empowered with the sense of their own being. This is tremendous.
What’s your favorite type of media or art form that you like to make with children? And why?
CREATIVE DANCE! For me, creative dance is the full embodiment of our experiences. My workshops are filled with props of many textures and we often create our own sounds to accompany our movements.
What kind of art do you make for yourself?
I am a dancing storyteller. I create my own stories and have other authors’ permission to bring their stories interactively to life with small children. For adults I have a whole series of dancing stories about the transitions of life. I create small sculptures from found, given or self-created objects. I call them Spirit Women. Their purpose is to help connect and uplift the shared human spirit in all of us. These have been on display at various studios and art galleries in the Triangle. I have recently begun to create dances for film. I love to cook and I am a pathetic yet enthusiastic gardener. I love to take bits of things around me and create things of beauty. My passion is the creative life.
What is the most rewarding part of your work with children?
I am constantly challenged to face myself and grow. Bliss!
What advice would you give parents on how to encourage their creativity in art activities?
I was trained to remove judgement from my vocabulary when working with the short ones. A cow can be purple, as long as a movement is safe to all, I encourage it. I once danced with a young one who proclaimed and embodied the dreams of the fishes and another who asked why there was not a stand alone zero on a clock. Children will have employment that we have never dreamed of. They will create adventures unknown to us. Let us fertilize their growth. That is my mission. That is my suggestion to parents. Please support your child without judgement as long as it is safe to all.
Our Moving activities collection is an excellent source to get your preschooler moving creatively. Then get more ideas about recognizing and supporting preschoolers' creativity in our article, Kids’ Creativity, It’s a Love-hate Thing.
Know an amazing creative educator that works with children ages 2 to 4 years old?
Photo credit: Catharine Carter