Hello, my name is Skylar Taavola, and I am a current senior at Northern Michigan University. I am from the small town of Negaunee in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I am majoring in Management of Health and Fitness with a minor in Dance. In the future I hope to start up my own dance studio just like Miss Kim. In February, I decided to reach out to Miss Kim to see if she would accept me as an intern for the summer at her studio. I was drawn in and interest in her “Time To Shine” integrative dance program. I was also fascinated with how Miss Kim’s was not just a dance studio, but also a center for other arts and all children. After Miss Kim’s interest in me and a chat with my advisor, we were able to fill out the necessary paperwork to make it happen. Miss Kim assisted me in finding me housing and explained to me my learning objectives and expectations.
Summer quickly approached, and it was time to move to North Carolina. I left home with lots of nerves and drove 16 hrs. to make it to Miss Kim’s. I felt right at home the moment I arrived to the studio. I was greeted as soon as I stepped out of the car to Miss Kim and a big hug. She gave me a studio tour and introduced me to some of her staff. Miss Kim then showed me to my housing and made sure I felt at home. The next day I went to the studio to meet some more staff and observe a little bit of her summer camp to get a feel of how she teaches and runs the studio. I fell in love the moment I was introduced to the children, and a little three-year-old ran up and gave me a big hug.
During my 7 weeks at Miss Kim’s, I assisted in the dance camps 8:30-12:30 Monday-Friday. Miss Kim’s offers many different camps throughout the week, ranging from Spanish, art camp, STEM, or dance camp. The dance camps had a different theme each week like Decedents, Princess, The Greatest Dancer, or Mermaid, Unicorns, and Fairies. During dance camp, I helped play with the children, assist in teaching dance routines, craft time, and snack. I helped guide the children making it a fun and safe environment. Often times I was the “group leader” of a group of about 10 children that traveled through different activities or stations with me. At the end of the week the children had a showcase of the fun dances they did to show their family members.
Evening Dance Classes
In the evenings, I would return to the studio at about 4pm to assist in summer dance classes. I was mostly under the wing of Miss Kim, assisting in teaching her 2-3- and 3-4-year-old creative movement and ballet classes. I learned about her class structure, how she engages the kids, and how to properly teach young dancers that will greatly benefit them. Miss Kim was wonderful in explaining why she did what she does in her classes and how it benefits the children. I also assisted in Miss Lilly’s, Miss Riley’s, and Miss Quentin’s classes throughout the week with ballet, tap, lyrical, acro, hip-hop, and jazz. It was great getting to observe and assist with other teachers to see what they do and how their teaching strategies may be a bit different. I loved being able to see the kids grow week from week and learning alongside them. It was amazing getting to know the students and building relationships with them.
Time To Shine
My favorite thing about Miss Kim’s is her Time To Shine program. I was able to volunteer every Sunday 3:45-5:15. Time To Shine is an integrative dance program for children 3-14 with special needs. This free program, allows students with special needs to have an adaptive and comfortable environment, where they can best grow. I made many close relationships with the loving students. They showed me and inspired me that dance is for everyone. Sunday was my favorite day of the week because I knew that I got to see these amazing students smiles brighten my week. Miss Kim did a wonderful job of walking me through how she runs this program and the different activities she does with the kids. I learned so much from being hands-on in the class with the children learning and dancing with them. Time To Shine was a very heart-warming and beautiful experience for me to be a part of.
This summer internship was my first experience in North Carolina. When I was not at the studio, I was able to do some exploring like going on many different hikes, eating at many great local restaurants, and trying out spinning and aerial silk classes. I am thankful to have built great friendships with the other dance teachers at the studio. Together we would take Spinning classes or go out to eat to chat. I was very thankful to have had a pool connected to my housing arrangement. I was able to relax and beat the humid NC heat in the beautiful pool.
Management and business talk
My last few weeks of my internship, Miss Kim was able to explain to me some of her business management tips and tricks. She inspired me and got my ideas rolling for my future studio. She was able to answer every question I had and gave me very helpful advice and ideas. Her positive energy and love for teaching dance is contagious, it very much inspired me to start my own studio. Throughout my time at Miss Kim’s I was able to witness her expansion of her studio, the “Hippo” room was added. It was great being able to witness the construction and steps that were taken to expand her space. I am thankful Miss Kim was able to share the steps she took to get her studio started and share her studio experiences with me.
I had such a wonderful time being an intern for Miss Kim’s. I am forever thankful for the experience and to be along side the inspiring Miss Kim. She helped me grow as a future dance teacher and business owner. I am grateful for her kind and open heart that made me feel welcome and at home at her studio. Having Miss Kim as my mentor was extremely eye opening. She allowed me to learn more than I ever expected to and to feel inspired after leaving. It was very difficult leaving her studio and saying my goodbyes as I head back to Michigan to graduate, but I am thankful to now have a dance family that loves and supports me back in North Carolina.