Jackie Davis, volunteer extraordinaire!

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With Ringmaster Residencies, Circus Smirkus joins students in the classroom with an artist-in-residency program that enlivens the classroom with the magic and joy of the circus while using the “CircusSecrets” to teach kids important life skills. These strategies are helping kids to develop their self-awareness and interpersonal relationships within the teaching framework of Social and Emotional Learning, or SEL for short. Educational researchers have shown that improvements in SEL are correlated with increased  engagement and improved performance in the classroom.

In partnership with Cirque du Soleil and the American Youth Circus Organization, we’re working on a study to demonstrate the impact of SEL. And we’re doing that right here in our hometown of Greensboro, Vermont with a year-long residency and study at Lakeview Elementary hosted by none other than the extraordinary Jackie Davis.

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Jackie has been an incredible driving force in making sure that a Smirkus Residency can change kids’ lives, even over the course or a week or two. With her late husband Rick Davis, she developed the initial CircusSecrets framework and has continued to revise it, informed by the very research she has conducted in exploring the deep connections between the circus arts and SEL.

As the news gets out about our new approach to circus arts education – and its impact on students, both in and out of the classroom – we’ve been getting more and more inquiries from schools that want to both infuse their classes with the joy and wonder that the circus brings and also help their kids to develop these critical life skills. We’re hoping that by publishing the findings of this study, that we can expand the CircusSecrets throughout the region (and beyond!), benefitting Circus Smirkus for years to come.

Ringmaster Residencies have been a point of entry into the magical carousel of the circus for thousands of kids. Once seeing the wonder and feeling the joy of a space where everyone can succeed, many continue their exploration by developing their skills at Smirkus Camp. Some of these passionate kids eventually make their way to the Big Top Tour, where they reach new audiences of kids who – until then – had never dreamed of running away with the circus.

And you can bring a Ringmaster Residency program to your school, too! To learn more about the program, please email bill.merrylees@smirkus.org.

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