TRUST in an amazing dance program at a California prison

I’m always looking for stories that include that little word, TRUST. Just call me the “TRUST Lady.” After 60+ years in public education — as a teacher, hearing officer, school attorney, author of eight books and many opinion pieces, including in The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, and Education Next, speaker, reformer, parent, and grandparent, I’ve come to understand that, far too often, TRUST is the missing piece in our schools. And we sure need it as we work towards an excellent education for all students.

On June 13, 2023, I saw this New York Times story: “Inside a remarkable dance program at a California prison”, by Soumya Karlamangla, reporting on a story by Brian Seibert, the Times dance critic. The prison is in Chino, California.

Intrigued, I read on. Who knew it would be such a treasure trove of TRUST!

At the start of the article:

“Dance, one of the men in Chino said, goes against prison-culture codes of masculinity… To dance is to be vulnerable, to feel free. To TRUST the people around you.”

As you can imagine, I was hooked! There was that little word, TRUST, in a prison setting. I read on…. it reappeared many times!

Instead of summarizing that story, which is a beautiful read, I’ll quote the several times that the word TRUST appears in it. Hopefully, you’ll get the gist of it. If you’re interested in reading the whole story, here’s the link.

Here are the paragraphs that used the word TRUST: (I’ve capitalized the word….)

That means that even things as simple as TRUST exercises, a mainstay of high school drama classes, become “profound inside of this environment,” he said.

PHOTO of four prisoner-dancers in a movement where they all touch each other (even as they wore those COVID-era masks) rehearse in Chino State Prison for a program that would mark their graduation from Embodied Narrative Healing, a prison arts class with a focus on dance.

Photo caption: Vulnerable, open, TRUSTING

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA, is a reformer, thought leader, lawyer, and author. Check out her book, Special Education 2.0 and her medicine bottle art!