For her fellowship, Heidi Phillips supplemented her lifelong passion and knowledge of dance with an understanding of how movement affects the brain and how to use those lessons in the classroom. “Learning about the brain, how it functions and why, how we process thought and how we respond to our emotions can help students overcome obstacles to educational success,” Phillips said. Conducting research on neuroscience and social/emotional learning initiatives led her to identify essential principles of learning, one of which was that movement is key to brain development. She then shared her findings with a self-selected committee of educators, mentors, and experts. Additionally, Phillips immersed herself in classrooms spanning grades 2 to 5, collaborating with teachers to lead students in exercises of rhythm, breathing, choreography, and more.
“My goal is to empower teachers with self care tools, brain interval practices and movement techniques that create connection, and can transform our schools one classroom at a time.”
Phillips did not expect to get an offer to facilitate a Creative Movement in Education workshop at the Butler Arts Center. The experience became another opportunity to share her research with grade-school teachers. At the end of the day, she continues
to apply what she learned to her relationship with her 10-year-old and 14-year-old children. “Learning about the specific changes and needs of the pre-pubescent and adolescent brains has had an awesome impact on my understanding and appreciation of my children, their capabilities, their limitations, their thoughts, emotions, and general genius. They are an inspiration to my work and continue to be a central and grounding force for my life.”