SKIES: helping to develop skills, healthy life styles
March 13, 2009
- SKIES is an acronym for "School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills
- The Stuttgart dance program blends hip hop street dance moves with elements of Jazzercise
- All the SKIES instructors are highly qualified, and "they're passionate about their classes
- Instructors teach a variety of subjects such as ballet, flute, taekwondo, Krav Maga, Kindermusik, swimming and tutoring in math and science
STUTTGART, Germany - "Give me some attitude."
It's something you don't hear too often from a teacher, but it's what Jenny McCoy wants from her class ... her B.A.D. class - boys' athletic dance, that is.
McCoy is an instructor for Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation's Child, Youth and School Services SKIES Unlimited program.
SKIES is an acronym for "School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills." "Unlimited" means there are unlimited possibilities in instructional programs for military children to expand their knowledge and acquire new skills.
"I wanted to give boys an excuse to dance," said McCoy, who also teaches junior Jazzercise, team dance and pre-ballet for SKIES. Several boys had expressed interest in McCoy's team dance class, but didn't necessarily want to be in a class with girls - hence, the birth of boys' athletic dance.
It's one of the newer classes SKIES offers and has an urban feel to it.
"It has athletic moves, some break dance ... we work on handstands, flips ... it depends on the strength of the boys and their athleticism," said McCoy.
McCoy blends hip hop street dance moves with elements of Jazzercise, but "I make it more 'boy-friendly' by incorporating athletic moves," she said.
McCoy, the mother of two school-age sons, appreciates SKIES as a parent and an instructor.
"SKIES is wonderful. If your child has an interest in music, dance or martial arts, you know you'll find it at SKIES," she said. "And for instructors, whether you teach guitar, ballet or taekwondo, you know where you can go to teach."
Nancy Heath agrees. "I think SKIES is a great program," she said. "It's so nice to have something for children to do." Her 9-year-old daughter, Maya Wisotzki, takes ballet and Irish step dance through SKIES.
"It gives you lots of exercise, and I like the teacher," said Maya, after her afternoon Irish step dance class.
The teacher, Aine Halpin, hails from Ireland and has been dancing since she was 4 years old. A qualified Irish Dance teacher, Halpin has taught for SKIES for three years. Her classes are some of the most popular in the program.
"It's the music," she said. "It makes you want to dance. You can't sit still."
"To have an authentic Irish teacher for Irish step dance is really something," said Kristy Lutz, the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart SKIES instructional program specialist.
Then again, all the SKIES instructors are highly qualified, and "they're passionate about their classes," she said. Instructors teach a variety of subjects such as ballet, flute, taekwondo, Krav Maga, Kindermusik, swimming and tutoring in math and science.
Classes are now offered on all four installations in the Stuttgart area.
"We just started opening up classes on Kelley Barracks - piano, ballet and German language," said Lutz.
Private music lessons are extremely popular. Guitar is taught six days a week and the instructor never has an empty slot. Piano lessons are also in high demand.
"We never seem to be able to place everyone who wants piano lessons," said Lutz. However, with two new piano teachers now on the schedule, "the wait list is a lot shorter than it used to be."
Lutz said she is always searching for qualified instructors.
"We're currently looking for instructors to teach swimming and string instruments," she said.