Sisters in Topeka USD 501 perform dance of hope during all-staff event at Topeka High School

The Jones sisters want their teachers know that students in Topeka Unified School District 501 deal with many issues before they enter the doors of their school every day.

 

“People can be going through stuff at home and they’ll come to school and have trouble doing what they’re supposed to be doing because of what they’re going through at home,” said Katy Jones, 13, a seventh-grade student at Jardine Middle School. “Teachers who understand that have a better chance of controlling students and being more helpful.”

Jones and her sisters, Ruby Jones, 14, Tierra Jones, 16, and Angela Jones, 10, performed a dance depicting how domestic violence at home is a reality for many children but that teachers can provide hope for their students dealing with those kinds of issues. The Wednesday morning performance was in front of an audience of USD 501 staff members who gathered in Topeka High School’s auditorium for a midyear convocation prior to the spring semester that begins Thursday.

Jason Jones, the girls’ father and a paraeducator at Robinson Middle School, was part of the beginning of the performance, portraying how adults are often the source of the dysfunction in a family. He said being part of the dance that evolved into a message of hope by the end was a good experience.

“It’s good to put something positive together for the teachers to encourage them to then take that into the classroom,” he said, “and encourage them, especially those coming from some challenging places.”

Dora Weber, the sisters’ mother and paraeducator at Quincy Elementary, said while watching her daughters perform on stage was “wonderful,” she said knowing that children have to deal with domestic violence is difficult. She although she and Jason have provided a good support system for their daughters, she was heartened to hear them talk about the impact USD 501 teachers have had on their young lives.

“We’ve always been there for our girls,” Weber said. “Even they, as they testified, they’ve found support in the staff for things that they’ve struggled with. I’m glad they have a good support system through the schools.”

Ruby Jones, a freshman at Topeka High, said she and her sisters were asked by superintendent Tiffany Anderson to create a performance for the all-staff event after Anderson recently attended a service at New Beginning, the church the sisters attend.

“She said she especially saw something special inside of us four,” Ruby Jones said.

“It was fun dancing, and I think we had a good time,” added Angela Jones, a fifth-grader at Randolph Elementary.

Tierra Jones, a junior at Topeka High, said putting the dance together was a lesson in tenacity because she and her sisters weren’t able to work on the dance until just a few days ago. However, she said her and her siblings being dance teachers themselves and their parents who are USD 501 paraeducators helped them persevere.

“That helped us work through all of the different struggles we encountered while learning this dance,” she said.

Anderson hosted the event that she said was the first midyear convocation for USD 501 staff members where she challenged them to “be the light” for their students who are struggling with traumatic issues.

“Our purpose to bring light where there’s darkness,” she told teachers, paraeducators and other staff members. “Think about what gifts you bring to the challenge.”

Contact reporter Angela Deines at (785) 295-1143 or @AngelaDeines on Twitter.

TopTankTickets
 

More