ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY is proud to congratulate Katherine Jones, Elementary Sustainability & Innovation Coordinator, who was honored earlier this month with a Poʻokela Award in the “Dance Choreographer/Movement Stage Combat” category for her work in “The Rocky Horror Show” at Manoa Valley Theatre. The Poʻokela Awards, given out by the Hawaiʻi State Theatre Council, recognize excellence in local theatre in 23 theatre arts categories, including directing, performing, design, choreography, and technical theatre. This was Jones’ eighth Poʻokela, with her first award in 2008 also, coincidentally, for “The Rocky Horror Show.”
Jones has years of professional experience in dance and choreography, having choreographed more than 60 musicals with Hawai’i high schools, universities, community theatres, and gala events. She has also had her work showcased at the Disney parks, in commercials in Japan, and in movies and local television. Although her teaching and family take up most of her time, she still makes time for one or two productions a year in community theatre. Her focus now is more on devoting the time she has to projects with non-profits, such as the Performing Arts Center of Kapolei and Camp Anuenue, where she can give back to the community.
Jones’ creativity and experience are invaluable in her position as Elementary’s Sustainability & Innovation Coordinator. She works closely with the grade level teachers, helping to coordinate student activities and efforts for their project-based learning (PBL). She assists students with choreography and costumes for the Grade 5 American Revolution Museum Experience; teaches Grade 3 students on-air presentation skills for their on-camera weather reports; and teaches the Grade 4 students how to prepare for job interviews during their class luau project, which integrates units on Hawaiʻi/Hawaiian Culture and Business/Finance. She also helps the classes with preparations for their Monday Assembly performances. In addition she leads the gardening curriculum for the Elementary division.
This summer, Jones taught the “Creative Art & Musical Theatre Skills” and “Musical Theatre Skills: Sing, Say, Dance, Play and More” classes during IPA’s Experience & Explore Summer Program.
“Teaching the classes here was great! The kids here are so talented and have so much passion,” said Jones. “I’ve always been joyful about teaching musical theatre. I don’t necessarily have to be doing musical theatre myself in order to get joy out of it.”
Students learned about puppetry, mask making, improvisation, music reading, dance, and choreography. Jones explains that through all the fun activities, the students also develop many important skills, such as self-confidence, public speaking, and self-awareness. She also points out studies that show a correlation between the dynamics of dance/music and mathematics/computational thinking.
Jones knows how important it is to expose children to the performing arts from a young age. “That’s something we do very well here at IPA,” she shared. “We have the resources and we recognize the value in it. It’s so important to their overall education because performing arts ultimately goes back to language arts, and our history, and mathematics.”