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Early Learning Students Dance their Way to New Confidence

March 15, 2016
By Kristy Bingham, Chronicle writer

Once a week at the Puyallup Early Learning Center, Danielle Wester is helping Cascade Christian's littlest Cougars to discover their inner passion for dance.

Since 2010, Wester has been teaching an enrichment ballet class called Ballet Bees to students from three to five years old. This school year, she also became the Assistant Program Supervisor at the PELC.

With a background in dance that ranges from the Cornish College of the Arts to the Tacoma City Ballet, Wester said her class focuses on learning the basics of ballet and creative movement.

"Movement feels natural to me and is also a challenge to me," Wester said. "When I am teaching my students, I don't stress over the small things. The biggest thing I want for them is to enjoy themselves. If they leave with a smile on their face, then it has been a successful class."

She said she enjoys teaching the young students, helping them to find a passion for movement and helping to foster and grow their confidence.

"I feel like God has given me a great talent and I love being able to share that with my students," she explained.

One student in particular, she said, has been fun to watch gro

"Each child has their own personality and this was exactly as God had made her," she said. "So I was completely fine with letting her observe. As time has progressed, I have watched her become a leader on stage. She is aware of others’ needs and even helps them take off their shoes. Now that she is older, she is encouraging the younger students like she once was."

PELC Director Karen Curtiss said Wester has the right qualities to bring out the best in all her students.

"I am so impressed with Danielle's ability to apply her knowledge of dance and years of experience with comfort, ease and professionalism," Curtiss said. "That, combined with her patience and consistency with young children, proves over and over again she is the right person for the job."

Wester said she remembers her first ballet teacher, and thoroughly enjoys being a stepping stone in the students’ lives.

"I try to always be aware of the age and development of my students," she said. "I truly believe in Cascade Christian's mission to develop tomorrow's leaders and help them find their God-given purpose."