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SALTILLO, MISS. (WCBI) – For third graders at Saltillo Elementary, an afternoon assembly turned into an interactive lesson.

Doctors Rebecca Jernigan and Elaine Gelbard perform together as “Dance A Story.” They use language arts, PE, dance, science, history, math and music inform and entertain. To celebrate Black History Month, the duo acted out, in word and dance, the African folk tale, AbiYoyo, a story about a father and son who triumph over a giant.

“We’re hoping they get a greater appreciation for dance and drama and that they will see how that connects with their education and work they are doing in the third grade,” Dr. Jernigan said.

The performers also say the arts can be a great motivator for good behavior.

“You really can’t be part of a play or a dance , unless you know teamwork, they’re good for developing teamwork, you can’t do art without discipline, and all the same skills we need to succeed in art are the same skills they need to succeed in their academic subjects,” Dr. Gelbard said.

The interactive assembly is funded through a grant from the “Whole Schools Initiative.” That is a program from the Mississippi Arts Commission that encourages teachers to integrate the arts in classroom instruction time.

Students enjoyed the unique assembly.

“It was very fun, and it was a fun activity to learn concentration and use your body instead of talking,” said Luke Jaggers.

“I liked how they act, it was very creative and they were just super cool, it was fun,” said Brooke Davis.

This is the seventh year the school is part of the “Whole Schools Initiative”

The artists held a workshop for teachers after school.

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