Vail Daily letter: Standing ovation for teachers |

Vail Daily letter: Standing ovation for teachers

Michelle Maloney
Vail, CO, Colorado

Standing ovation

I want to publicly thank and applaud Shania O’Sullivan and Robert Ellsworth for their amazing Dancing With the Bear Cubs event at Red Hill Elementary, Feb. 11.

These teachers decided to teach 420 children ages K-5 how to swing, foxtrot, salsa and waltz. That is an amazing feat by itself. But before they could teach the students, both teachers had to take dance lessons to learn the dances themselves.

There was a school competition and four couples per class per dance were chosen to compete in a fundraising event for the Bartel family. On Feb. 11 Red Hill hosted the most amazing evening. There were 200 children dressed in their finest. The evening was beyond incredible from the moment the lights were turned down. The students entered the gym arm in arm and proceeded to the dance floor. The students in all grades were amazing to watch as they danced, smiled and performed. There were no students counting their steps or trying to remember what to do. Just watching these students dressed up, dancing, showing such adult behavior, teamwork and grace was a gift we were all given.

But the night was about far more than the students competing for the final trophy or ribbon. The school was hosting a fundraiser for a local family, the Bartel family, whose son, Avan, is in Children’s with the rare disease Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome. The students were awarded ribbons by judges, but there were also people’s choice awards. The audience voted on their favorite class by cash donations. At the end of the evening, Red Hill had raised over $6,000 for the Bartel family. By week’s end, Red Hill had raised $10,000!

These students learned life skills of dance, performing, teamwork and most importantly serving fellow community members.

Ms. O and Coach E, I know I speak for the Red Hill Community when I thank each of you for your vision, your tireless energy and efforts in teaching all of our children to dance, and for your second annual event to raise money for needs in our community/world. Your desire to help our children see beyond themselves and work for someone in need is one of the greatest things you could ever teach. The fact that you then use talents of music or dance to serve others is amazing. Last year Red Hill raised money for Haiti, this year it was for a local family. Thank you for your hours of work in teaching and for putting together one of the most amazing evenings I have been privileged to witness.

Michelle Maloney


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