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The Association of Teaching Artists (ATA) is a not for profit advocacy organization in New York State that brings together artists who teach in schools and in the community to: Educate, Collaborate, and Communicate.



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2002 - 2003 Teaching Artist Journals

This months Teaching Artists' Journal is supplied to us by Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell.

Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell earned a B.F.A. in ballet with a modern dance minor from The University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music. She has danced with the Dance Theater of Harlem, Cincinnati Contemporary Dance Theater, Landrum Dance Theatre, Southwest Jazz Ballet, and Theater Under The Stars in Houston. She has toured South America with Disney on Parade Dance Company. In Syracuse, she has performed with Syracuse Stage, Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, Syracuse Community Choir, and the Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company.

Wilkins-Mitchell’s teaching credits include the Dance Theater of Harlem, Inner City Cultural Center in Los Angeles, the Northwest Houston Dance Academy, Syracuse University, and Le Moyne College. She is currently on the faculty of Oswego State University, and she is the owner / director of the Onondaga Dance Institute. She is a Teaching Artist for dance with the Central New York Institute of Aesthetic Education, and she serves as a dance coach for the NAACP ACT-SO Program.

Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell has been the recipient of the 2000 Martin Luther King, Jr. Unsung Heroes and Heroines from Syracuse University; the 2000 Marjorie Dowdell Fortitude Award from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; a 2001 Honoree of the National Council of Negro Woman, Inc.; and the Spirit of Life Award presented by Kaleidoscope Dance Theater. Mayor Matt Driscoll of Syracuse proclaimed May 30, 2003 Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell Day in the City of Syracuse.

Wilkins-Mitchell is the mother of two children.

Reflections by Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell

I reflect on being a Teaching Artist with a smile on my face and in my heart. God blessed me, and I have had the perseverance to now have a successful career in dance. For fifteen years I have worked with several arts institutes—the Central New York Institute for Aesthetic Education, Partners for Arts Education, the Central New York Community Arts Council, the Southern Tier Institute—and I have touched thousands of school children. Not only were the children prepared to see and understand live performance, but they experienced the expression of human spirit through dance. I was rewarded with appreciation and intelligent questions that reflected the children’s understanding and knowledge of what they had experienced in follow-up visits.

Involvement as a Teaching Artist over the years has given me the opportunity to be touched by students in a very special way. When I have been approached by young adults—high school age and older—with a, “Mrs. Mitchell, do you remember me?” I look into the beautiful faces and think where do I know this person from. The young adults continue, “You came to my school and did . . . “ The memories flood back, and I smile with my face and my heart.

Lately though I have been haunted by the knowledge that some of those young people that I helped open to the world of aesthetics are now faced with death and destruction as our world is gripped in conflict and war. Some of these “kids” may be soldiers in the midst of some ugly situations. Will they remember there is good, that life can be beautiful? As a Teaching Artist I take pride in contributing something good, in touching people’s lives, in helping people see the world a little differently and knowing that I influenced them in some small way to become productive citizens.

My smile broadens with memories. I love being a Teaching Artist.