Published for the Arts Based School Community
June 2, 2022
How We Do It and Why
By Mary Siebert
During the eighteen years that Jan Adams has taught dance at ABS, her students’ performances have routinely brought delighted gasps, laughter, and tears from audience members. Her students dance everything: demonstrations of the water cycle, rotation of the planets, structure of an atom. They dance addition problems, area and perimeter, and symmetry. They dance poetry and literature. They also learn the basics of multiple dance disciplines. Jan maintains current knowledge of every curricular area at every grade level she teaches, looks for connections, and creates synapse-like junctions of learning where ideas spark one another and permeate boundaries of thinking.
Jan has attended countless staff development workshops in her career, both as a leader and as a participant. As members of the A+ Schools Network, our teachers learn in the same manner that we expect our students to learn: digging deeply into the subject matter but exploring it through the arts, through play and experimentation. Jan is one of the founding fellows of the A+ Schools Network, where she is still an active participant. She is an expert at helping teachers, from beginners to veterans, integrate the arts into instruction. A workshop with Jan can change a teacher’s practices for a lifetime, in one clean shot. She makes it clear, exciting, and inspirational.
Jan has identified herself as a “connector.” At ABS, we have all benefited from that generous impulse. When she is not in the classroom, she is often visiting other classrooms, cheering teachers on, gaining inspiration from their fresh ideas, and supporting them. Her ability to collaborate is legendary. Her professionalism is impeccable. Her dedication is exuberant and absolutely consistent. Although she has been teaching for over forty years, never a month goes by when Jan doesn’t share, with obvious delight, a new discovery, a breakthrough, a story from a student who succeeded for the first time.
Jan started out as a ballet student in the UNCSA high school program, where she performed with North Carolina Dance Theater, dancing all through the Southeast in ballet, contemporary, and jazz. After earning her MFA, she married Jerry Adams in 1975, who has been with her through every adventure since. Fresh out of school, she landed a job with the NC Visiting Artist Program as a solo visiting artist, traveling the state and performing at Rotary Clubs, prisons, and schools. She taught ballet briefly at UNCSA, before setting out in the national broadway touring company of A Chorus Line, as dance captain. She was home two days during each year that she had that job.
She taught ballet at UNCG for a year, and on her last day, she taught ballet for three hours and then went into labor with the first of her two children. She tried what she calls a “normal” job, as a travel agent, and failed miserably. So back to dance she turned, and she and family headed to the island of St. Thomas, where she was ballet mistress at the Ballet Theater of the Virgin Islands for a year.
Upon her return to Winston-Salem, Jan taught at the Academy of Dance Arts, where, from ex-Rockette Vinnie Frederick and her brother, she learned how to connect with young children, and how to organize large groups of dancers to successfully perform in complex productions. (Jan’s Peter and the Wolf here at ABS with sixty kindergarten students and 15 modern dancers from UNCSA made the Rockettes look like childsplay. At least a Rockette can tie her own shoes!)
In 1989, Jan met Jane Pfefferkorn, who was in charge of the performing arts for the county school district for decades. Jane persuaded Jan to earn her teaching certificate, then launched her into the schools in a program called “Arts Connections.” A team of two would push into a classroom where students were struggling with math concepts, for example, figure out how to inspire and reach the students by exploring and explaining the concepts through dance and drama for a month, then move on to another school. They were arts integration pioneers. In her first year alone, Jan met with an estimated 7,000 students.
In 1991, Jan added on an evening job, teaching in UNCSA’s Preparatory Dance Program, an intensive program for young students who have potential to continue into the elite UNCSA ballet program as high school and college students. Jan continued there, retiring in 2021.
She earned her National Boards in 2000, and renewed them in 2010. In 2005, she joined the Arts Based School staff as a full-time dance teacher, where she has remained until this day. In 2015, Jan was awarded State Charter School Teacher of the Year.
Jan reports that one of her most rewarding roles has been mentoring. She has mentored UNCSA Dance Pedagogy students, UNCG Dance Education candidates, National Board Participants, A+ Apprentices on their way to being A+ Fellows, and new teachers at ABS.
For us, she not only taught and choreographed, but also ran the Kiwanis “K-Kids” service club for years. When we had extra projects that required pitching in after hours or over a weekend, Jan was there. After every evening performance, Jan was there in the late hours, unloading the truck. When any of us performed outside of school, Jan was in the audience.
We will miss this beloved connector, who retires from teaching at The Arts Based School at the end of this school year. But she will never be gone. Jan’s ideas, energy, and passion for teaching are woven firmly into our identity. We carry her with us into the future, with deep gratitude for her dedication and creative force.
The Jan Adams Legacy Fund
To honor Jan Adams’ outstanding legacy, her friends are collecting gifts large and small to ensure that Jan’s influence will be felt for years to come in the place where she dedicated so much of herself. All gifts made to the Jan Adams Legacy Fund will support the theatrical productions that bring learning to life at ABS. For more details and to make a gift, please visit this page.
In addition to Mrs. Adams’ retirement, this is the time of year when there are changes and transitions to announce. We will miss those who are moving on to new adventures, and we are happy to welcome new teachers and colleagues! We continue to interview great candidates to fill our classrooms with more amazing teachers and staff. If you are interested in working at ABS, check out our website for more information on open positions and the employment process.
6th grade Historic Music Videos are here!
These wild and crazy videos are the culmination of lots of work. With Mr. Court in music, students memorized their (ABS original) songs about important figures in ancient world history, and then traveled to Ovation Sound to record them. With Mr. Brown in drama, they learned the basics of filmmaking, and helped film, edit, make directorial choices and act in their music video. You can see the videos by signing in at the Family Portal at the ABS website.
EOG testing continues…
June 3 EOG Science Make Up Tests
Summer Camp Openings
We have a few more spots open in our summer camps including our rising kindergarten camp June 20-24! Click on the links below for more information…
As we approach the end of the year, there are opportunities to help us get things in order for the coming year!
In the costume room, we have some take-home opportunities to help us mend, starch, and iron costumes—as well as sorting and sizing cowboy boots in the costume room. Check here for more details and to sign up!
You may have noticed some changes in our gardens, with beautiful new raised beds thanks to an ABS alum working on his Eagle Scout project. We could very much use help in our gardens from anyone who has time and interest—both now and through the summer. You can check tasks and sign up to help here, and we also encourage you to reach out to us with any specific questions or ideas. Thank you!
Field Day will be held on Monday, June 6th this year. It’s a half-day and we need volunteers to help the classes run their games. Please contact your class rep if you can help. This is one of the last opportunities of the year to earn volunteer hours.
We will serve pizza on Field Day, June 6 and it is an early dismissal!
8th Grade Graduation
We are excited that we will be able to celebrate this moment in person! 8th Grade graduation will take place in the Alex Ewing Blackbox Theater in the MLK building, at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, June 3. FOUR audience members per student, regardless of age, are invited to attend the brief ceremony. This event will not be live streamed, but we will make a simple video to share with friends and family. Students should dress nicely for the ceremony. No shorts, T-shirts, logos, flip-flops, or hats.
End of Year Checklist
- Pick up medications from the front office.
- Be sure all fees and lunch balances are paid. (Reach out to Ms. Garner to check your balance.)
- Let us know if you will not be returning to ABS next year. If your child is transferring to another school, please let us know where to send your child’s records by emailing Stephanie LeFever: [email protected].
- Monday, June 6th is the last day of school, with early dismissal. K-4 dismisses at 11:45. 5-8 dismisses at 12pm.
A group of ABS students will be singing and drumming with Mrs. B. at the ribbon cutting for the newly remodeled Winston Lake Park. Come on out and join us on Saturday, June 4, at 9:30. Here’s the event flier. 2790 New Walkertown Rd.
Guilford Tech Community College is offering a week-long music tech camp called "Let's Make a Record!" June 13-17, applicable for 13-18 year olds. Check it out here.
UNCSA's “Acting Out” program is presenting Peter and the Starcatcher June 2-5. It features 6 current ABS students and one alumna. Directed by former ABS drama teacher, Mr. Zayas. Tickets are available here.
The Little Theatre of Winston Salem offers summer camps for kids. Check them out here.
The Winston-Salem Girls Chorus is opening registrations for new singers for the fall of 2022. There are various choirs for Kindergarten - 12th grades, with Director Anne Saxon. Learn more here.
ABS third grader Iris Gentry and her brother, kindergartener Leo Gentry have planted and tended more than 500 sunflower seeds over the past several weeks to help support Ukraine and to honor their own Ukrainian ancestry. Sunflowers are the national flower of Ukraine. Iris and Leo (and younger sister, Sylvie) will be selling their sunflowers to raise money for World Central Kitchen this Saturday, June 4th @ 2211 Rosewood Avenue, 9am-12pm. You can find them there, or reach out to Alison Gentry with any questions!