Student Showcases Talent in “The Nutcracker”

by KATIE MCKEE

January 22, 2014

She works year round so for two weeks, she can focus solely on her passion: ballet.

Elizabeth Savell began attending Texas Tech University Independent School District (TTUISD) during second grade so she could spend more time dancing. The now fifth grade student is enrolled in TTUISD’s diploma program, and is schooled by her mother, Catherine Savell, on a European, or year-round, calendar.

Attending TTUISD, Elizabeth said, allows her to juggle schoolwork and ballet without stress.

“It’s really easy to do ballet,” she said. “I have more time to do ballet during the day.”

Elizabeth, who lives in Lubbock, attends Ballet Lubbock, which is a private, non-profit organization, and practices three times each week to reach her life goal: becoming a prima ballerina.

Each year, Elizabeth’s hard work is showcased in public ballet performances. In December, she performed as a solider in Ballet Lubbock’s adaptation “The Nutcracker.”

“I’m in the battle scene and I get thrown around by rats and I hunt them down,” she said, smiling.

During the two weeks leading up the “The Nutcracker,” Catherine said, Elizabeth takes a break from her academic studies so she can concentrate on perfecting her performance.

““I school Elizabeth all the year round so when it comes time for Nutcracker there’s no stress with ‘I’ve got to go home. I’ve really got to stress because I’ve got all this school work to do,’” she said. “I know everything during the Nutcracker coincides with the school year.”

In addition to flexibility with Elizabeth’s schedule, Catherine said TTUISD offers many other benefits for students.

Better study habits, more creativity and full comprehension of subjects are all improvements Catherine has seen with Elizabeth since her enrollment.

Elizabeth, Catherine said, excels in science and math, but struggles with reading. Because of TTUISD’s design, Catherine takes extra time making sure Elizabeth understands her assignments before moving on.

This type of one-on-one teaching is an advantage Elizabeth would not receive elsewhere, she said.

“I buy two books instead of just one and Elizabeth and I will sit in our library and she’ll sit at her desk, and she’ll read the book to me out loud, and I just quietly follow along with the book, making sure that every word is right,” Catherine said. “Then, we discuss each chapter when she’s done with it for full reading comprehension. I don’t think they do that at public school.”

Although Elizabeth said her favorite class with TTUISD is science because she’s gotten to conduct experiments, such as making a cloud in a jar, she plans to attend Texas Tech University and major in dance.

Catherine, who graduated from Tech with a degree in electrical engineering and a minor in math, said she encourages Elizabeth’s plans. However, for the present time, she wants Elizabeth to focus on her schoolwork with TTUISD and dancing.

While many other dancers attend public school and are overwhelmed with balancing ballet, tests and homework, TTUISD make’s Elizabeth’s life easier, Catherine said.

“TTUISD allows us that break to pick and choose the times that we’re going to school,” she said, “to pick the times that Elizabeth needs to take a break and be focusing on her passion, which is ballet.”


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