The Rebecca Padgett School of Performing Arts equipping youth with tools for success


In honor of Black History Month, News 3 is taking a look at local African-American businesses that are helping to improve their communities from the inside out.

News 3’s Courtney Cole made her first stop at The Rebecca Padgett School of Performing Arts, where teachers are helping to shape young lives in the community…one dance step at a time.

No matter the day of the week, you can always find students eager to jump right into a new routine at The Rebecca Padgett School of Performing Arts…and it all started with the ambitious ideas of the then, 14-year-old, Anekia Boatwright McGhee.

“I danced in a studio that the owner was ill and she was getting ready to close, and I came up with this great idea of how a community-ran studio, could be ran by a 14-year-old,” McGhee told News 3.

Although McGhee’s teacher thought she was a bit young to own a business, McGhee’s mother believed in her vision just as much as she did and challenged her to create a business plan.

But—little did she know, her mom would keep it and help turn her dream into a reality when she was 22-years-old. Over the last 15 years, she’s opened the ‘doors to dance’ for hundreds of students on Martin Luther King, Junior, Boulevard in Savannah.

The boys and girls that attend this school of performing arts aren’t only learning new dances moves, they’re also learning how to successfully dance their way through life.

Michelle Boatwright, McGhee’s niece, has been a student at the school for the last 14 years. She takes Balllet, Jazz, Tap, Hip-Hop and Step classes—but the most valuable thing she says she’s learning is how to be better than herself.

“She doesn’t only teach us about dance, she teaches us how to be better than ourselves. We learn life lessons along with dance. She uses dance to show us how the real world is going to be. So whenever we get tired when we’re dancing , she teaches us how to push through it, because there’s going to be times when life gets hard and you just have to push through.”

Push through and persevere just like McGhee’s grandmother did.

“Rebecca Padgett was my mother’s mother and that’s what she did from a very young age. She told my mom what she could do and that she had the ability to do anything she put her mind to,” McGhee said.

And McGhee says it’s important for her to mirror those same ideals to her students.

“So now, when they look at occupations or careers, or just where they want to be in life, they realize that they don’t have to see themselves in order to be there, but once they’re there—they give someone else the opportunity to envision themselves.”

Click here to visit The Rebecca Padgett School of Performing Arts website.

Click here to visit the Rebecca Padgett School of Performing Arts Facebook page.

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