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Jennifer's Heroes: Sally Hart and the Albemarle Ballet Theatre

By: Jennifer Black Email
By: Jennifer Black Email

June 11, 2009

The benefits of ballet can be great for any child, especially for kids with special needs.

In this week's Jennifer's Heroes, CBS19's Jennifer Black introduces us to a woman who's offering more than a lesson in dance.

At the Albemarle Ballet Theatre in Crozet, it was children eager to dance with pink tights and pointed toes that led to Special Needs ballet teacher, Sally Hart.

Sally Hart's desire to teach ballet to children with special needs began when she was in high school in northern Virginia. It happened after teaching a friend of her mother's who had down syndrome.

"I just realized that everybody learns differently, and sometimes we shouldn't label kids. Sometimes it's the teacher's responsibility to learn to break things down, and to give the information different to these children," says Sally Hart, Ballet teacher.

Whether it's incorporating toys for stretching or using stories to captivate the kids, the basic lessons are the same.

For Isabel Erkel, a child with high-functioning autism, Mrs. Hart's ballet class is an outlet. It's the same for sisters Emma-Lynn and Alyssa Miller.

"They got up in the morning and put their leotard and tights on at 8am when we didn't even have class until 5:30," says Carrie Miller, Alyssa's mom.

For a mother whose children have special needs like epilepsy, selective mutism, and mild autism, leaving your young ones in someone else's care can be scary. But with Sally Hart, parents feel their children are in good hands.

While the mothers are thankful for the foundation their kids are building in ballet, Hart says it's the parents and their children who are the heroes.

"I want to be able to give them a joy of dance and music that they might not ever have, but no, I'm not a hero," says Hart.

If you know of someone who's making an impact in our community, send Jennifer an email, and you could see your hero featured on CBS19 news.

Hart and her staff teach a variety of dance to people at the Albemarle Ballet Theatre in Crozet.


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