Education

School staff dress up as dancing grandmas to teach students a lesson

Dancing 'grandmas' make appearance at school board meeting

Staff from Westhaven Elementary School performed a choreographed dance for the Belleville District 118 School Board at its Tuesday night meeting. They were dressed up as grandmas.
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Staff from Westhaven Elementary School performed a choreographed dance for the Belleville District 118 School Board at its Tuesday night meeting. They were dressed up as grandmas.

The Belleville District 118 School Board members got to watch a group of dancing “grandmas” whip and nae nae during its meeting Tuesday night.

“I’m really sorry about this guys,” said Westhaven Elementary School Principal Geoff Schwalenberg as staff from the school entered the board room dressed in gray and white wigs. “I was supposed to have a group. I know we are an elementary school, not a geriatric institution. ... I truly apologize for not being prepared tonight.”

This was a similar routine Schwalenberg and the staff had done for Westhaven students during an assembly about responsibility at the beginning of the month.

“...We wanted to find a way to make it fun for our kids. ... We played it off a little bit like we did tonight: We acted like we came and we weren’t prepared and I was going to chastise teachers for not being prepared for their thing, and then the lights dropped, and the music came on, and of course the grannies came out,” Schwalenberg said, “and the kids just were giggling, laughing, having a great time with it.”

We know that these things carry over not only in school but in their regular lives.

Geoff Schwalenberg, Westhaven Elementary School principal

Schwalenberg said the “grandmas” were staff other than classroom teachers, including office workers, support staff members and others. They performed a choreographed dance that included popular songs like “Single Ladies” and “Uptown Funk.” It all ended with the grandmas removing their cardigans to reveal the word “responsibility” spelled out in letters attached to their backs.

“Don’t think we don’t take responsibility seriously at Westhaven School,” Schwalenberg told the school board. “We can still have character and have a lot of fun doing it, and that’s what we do at Westhaven School.”

Superintendent Matt Klosterman was there for the assembly and said he was caught off guard by the performance.

“I was like, ‘Oh my!’” Klosterman said.

This was just one of the assemblies that the staff — and sometimes students — put on every month. There’s a different theme each time, but Schwalenberg said they always revolve around character building.

“We were recognized as a state school of character a couple years ago, and we are now on our mission, our path toward the national school of character,” Schwalenberg said. “...We know that these things carry over not only in school but in their regular lives. ... We have a fun way of getting that message across.”

Saint Louis graduate student coming to Belleville schools

A graduate student studying physical therapy at Saint Louis University will get to complete some clinical hours at Belleville schools.

The District 118 School Board approved an agreement with SLU at its Tuesday night meeting. Klosterman said there’s no money involved; The agreement is basically outlining what resources the district and university will make available to support the student.

The school board meets next at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at 105 West A St. in Belleville.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes

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