Students at Lyndon Town School in Lyndonville had a new type of teacher recently -- a bona fide circus coach from Circus Smirkus, the youth circus in Vermont. Josh Shack, production manager for the Circus Smirkus Tour and teaching artist for the residency program, conducted classes that teach students a variety of circus arts and important life skills. Josh is an alumnus of Circus Smirkus and Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He is currently touring with two other former Smirkus troupers as the Piccolini Trio.
"The residency is designed to give students the learning tools they need to reach their goals," said Smirkus Residency director Rick Davis. In addition to teaching circus tricks such as spinning plates and juggling, Residency artists teach eight "Circus Secrets" that help students reach goals: Try, Try Again, Try a New Way, Watch, Listen, Step-By-Step, Go Slow and Get Help. "These are the tools that students can use, not only to learn circus arts, but to achieve any goal they set," said Davis.
The entire school community -- students, teachers and parents -- joined in the circus activities. Teachers received a curriculum guide containing circus-themed lesson plans in science, math, history, and literature. Art and music classes had special projects. All students, from grades K-6, participated. The week ended with an all-school circus performance attended by parents and the public.
Circus arts bring other benefits, according to Davis. "Through learning circus arts, students develop their powers of concentration, focus and persistence, and gain confidence and strength for dealing with challenges," he says. Davis is available for interview. Call (603) 562-6976 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.