DEL Lab Schools Feature: Daria Fitzgerald
We’re so excited to share our first 2023 DEL Lab School recipient highlight: Daria Fitzgerald!
Daria Fitzgerald teaches early childhood dance classes through 92NY’s Nursery School, Parenting Center, and Harkness Dance Center. Daria is also a Pre-K Create Coach, Assistant Director of Kids Do Dance at The Yard, Associate Director of the Arnhold NYU Steinhardt/Global Visiting Scholar Summer Workshop, and a teaching artist at New York City Public Schools and the JCC.
Daria has presented professional development workshops through Dancing Classrooms, the Lawrence Arts Center, and NDEO. After first visiting Uganda with the NYU Steinhardt Dance Education Study Abroad Program directed by Deborah Damast, Daria returned to the country to study and document children’s games. She believes that most lessons can be taught through play. Daria’s classes center around joyful, playful explorations of themes that are relevant to student’s lives and expressive, student-driven choreography. Daria believes that every child is an artist with an important point of view, and it is the responsibility of the teachers and families to nurture and affirm their creativity while giving them tools to expand their skills.
Recently, Daria was featured in Dance Teacher Magazine’s “Office Hours” column, spotlighting dance teachers and their work.
“Young children are capable of so much. Don’t underestimate them,” was just one of the many great things Daria shared in her interview, including Jody Gottfried Arnhold’s DEL watchwords, “there is no dance without dance education.” She also spoke about how much she enjoys working with Erin Lally, Director of DEL at 92NY, and named fellow DEL Lab Schools recipient Deborah Damast as an important role model.
We asked Daria to answer the following questions:
A. What is one of the biggest learnings or takeaways that has stuck with you from a DEL Course/Workshop?
One of the biggest takeaways that has stuck with me from DEL courses is “Less is more.” Through DEL courses, I have learned how deeply you can explore and develop what might at first seem like a small theme.
B. How do you apply the DEL model in your teaching environment? Tell us more about how you use what you’ve learned from DEL in your real life.
One way that I apply the DEL model in my teaching is through collaboration with classroom teachers. At 92NY’s Nursery School and Parenting Center, I regularly check-in with teachers to see what their students are studying and interested in, and then create lessons centered around those themes. Some of my favorite themed lessons from these collaborations have included Jewish holidays, dung beetles, and construction. Through my courses at DEL, I know that “You can make a dance about anything.”
C. At the center of the DEL Model is the Teacher’s Heart, which represents the core artistic and philosophical values and beliefs of every dance educator. What is your Teacher’s Heart?
Every child should be given a high-quality dance education, weighted with equal or greater importance as any other subject studied in school. Through nurturing the best parts of being human, including creativity, compassion, and responsibility, dance teachers can transform a school, a community, a nation, and the world.
Daria Fitzgerald (M.A., Dance Education, New York University, Professional Dance Teacher Certification, New York State) teaches dance classes through 92NY’s Nursery School, Parenting Center, and Harkness Dance Center. As a Pre-K Create coach and facilitator for DEL at 92NY, Daria supports New York City 3K and Pre-K teachers in developing skills and knowledge to facilitate the implementation of high-quality and sustaining dance education practices. Daria is the assistant director of Kids Do Dance at The Yard and was the lead curriculum designer for The Yard’s Making It program in Martha’s Vineyard schools. Daria is also a teaching artist in New York City Public Schools and the JCC. She has guest lectured at New York University and is an associate director of the Arnhold NYU Steinhardt/Global Visiting Scholar Summer Workshop. Daria has presented professional development workshops through Dancing Classrooms and the Lawrence Arts Center. She regularly presents her research and pedagogical practices at the National Dance Education Organization’s (NDEO) annual conferences. Previously, Daria served as a member of NDEO’s Development Committee and as NDEO’s Graduate Student Representative to the Board of Directors. Daria curates an Instagram that features books to use in dance class: @booksfordancing.