Pupils dancing in the aisles

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2003

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Connie Mains wanted to give her kindergartners a glimpse into her life outside the classroom.

"At this age, they think you live here at the school," Mains said with a laugh. "So I decided to let the kids see what I like to do for fun."

Mains, a 17-year veteran of Augusta-area schools, had become involved in ballroom dancing a few years earlier. She was taking classes at the Augusta Ballroom Dance Center and asked instructor Jim Cusic to adopt her class.

Cusic volunteered his time once a week to teach the 5- and 6-year-olds how to merengue and fox-trot.

That was in 1993.

Ten years later, the patter of little feet moving in unison can still be heard in Mains' kindergarten class.

"I have really enjoyed this," Cusic said Tuesday at a class party, complete with a cake and presents, celebrating his 10th anniversary with Mains' students.

Cusic, the owner of The Ritz Ballroom in Martinez, has taught ballroom dance for 20 years. He says that he loves teaching people of all ages to dance but that there's something about children.

"The kids are a little easier to teach," he said, smiling. "And at this age, they learn quickly."

There's no doubt that the children look forward to Tuesdays with "Mr. Jim."

"He's great," Josias Weaver said.

Carli Wortham, 5, said she loves the dances she learns with her classmates.

"The merengue is my favorite," she said. "It's easy, so easy that when I go home I try to teach it to my mom."

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