As a dance teacher, Emily Cassel Moul works to make sure her students can express themselves creatively and confidently.
Cassel Moul, who is currently teaching at a magnet arts school in the Baltimore area, will earn a master of arts in teaching artistry from Wayne State University’s College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts’ theatre and dance program. Cassel Moul completed her master’s entirely online and earned a B.F.A. in dance from the university in 2007. She also received a teaching certificate in 2014 from Florida Southern College.
Dancing has been a lifelong passion of Cassel Moul’s, and her work as a student has focused on dance education as a means of self-expression and a vehicle to better understand and interpret others. Currently in her 11th year of teaching, she works with middle school students to help them develop their techniques, identify their own artistry and grow as individuals.
“At an age where they can get pulled easily in lots of different directions, I want them to still love dance when they leave my program,” she said. “Even if they don’t continue dance into high school or college, I want them to take all of those life skills with them — collaboration, open-mindedness, creativity and discipline — wherever they may go.”
Cassel Moul’s classes include ballet, modern, jazz and tap dancing, but she also incorporates other styles based on student interest, including hip-hop, musical theatre and traditional Irish styles.
“It’s important to me as a teacher that the students’ voices are heard, and that they learn to share their opinions and needs,” she said. “They play an active part in my pedagogy.”
During her tenure in the theatre and dance program, Cassel Moul explored the intersection of dance and literacy, completing numerous practicum projects analyzing the relationship between literature that students read and how their understanding can be deepened through creative dance expression. Her final essay project for the program examines another type of literacy, musical theory comprehension, once again looking at dance education as a vehicle to understand and interpret other disciplinary spaces.
As a master’s student, Cassel Moul worked with Doug Risner, program director and professor of dance, and Mary Anderson, chair of the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, to explore different perspectives on pedagogy, create new projects and put them to practical use with her students.
“Working with Dr. Risner and Dr. Anderson was a pleasure, and they really helped me see my own classes through a new perspective,” she said. “So many magnet dance programs are conservatory style where students follow a set path; I really wanted my classes to be more collaborative environments.”
Because of the structure of her program, Cassel Moul is able to spend a few years working with the same students, allowing her to get to know them better and watch them progress. She finds great inspiration in their enthusiasm and willingness to learn something new.
“It was eye-opening what happened when I let the students share voices and guide their own learning with an adjustment to the student evaluation process,” she said. “They give such authentic feedback, and they just love participating in my projects, which has made them even more meaningful to me.”
Although her undergraduate degree is not in teaching, Cassel Moul was “a sponge” during the early semesters of the teaching artistry program and found support from two very special teachers in her life: her mom and her husband.
“My family shared lessons from their own classroom experiences, listened to me and made sure I had the time I needed to focus,” she said.
Cassel Moul plans to be a lifelong learner and hopes to encourage every student to practice self-love.
“My advice to other students — and something that I try to instill in my own students, too — is to be kind to yourself, always.”