Issue 50 | March 29, 2013 | Featuring Terra Appelman

Newsletters Archive

"When I was about 3 years old my mom (Cyndy Appelman) took me to see my first ballet performance.  She wasn't sure if I was old enough to sit through the whole show, but as the story goes, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, taking in everything."   Is it possible that a young girl at the age of 3 could be captivated by an enduring passion?Read Terra Appelman's story of amazing dedication and sacrifice by the entire family.
INSIDE NARHS: Self Designed Evidence

When it comes to self-designed courses, evidence is of upmost importance.  Read the words of Steve Moitozo, founder of NARHS, "Evidence is a material, tangible item that can be presented to demonstrate that something was done, existed, occurred, and/or experienced by a student.  NARHS differentiates "evidence" from "testimony." We consider "testimony" as what you SAY happened.  We consider "evidence" as the presentation of objects we can see or handle to corroborate your testimony.  When a student writes an essay about his trip to Ecuador, that is his testimony.  When he shows his passport marks for Ecuador, his plane ticket stub to Quito, and photographs of him inside Capilla del Hombres, that's evidence!"

Excellent evidence can come from second-party validation supplied by the "Grading Tool for Self-Designed Courses."  Give this form to a piano teacher, coach, supervisor, director etc, who can verify that the student participated. That form allows the witness to supply a grade for the activity along with a signature and date. Since it does not take long to fill out the grading tool, the supervisor may be agreeable to fill out a number of the forms during the year; this could be helpful for displaying the student's skill growth. 

Terra Appelman

"I am an only child, born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1995. When I was six months old, we moved to Bull Valley, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. About two years later, we moved to Jarrettsville, a small town in Maryland north of Baltimore. Again, two and a half years later, for my dad's next job, we moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where I attended three different schools from kindergarten through 8th grade. I began homeschooling in 9th grade to accommodate the many hours required for the training I was doing in ballet." Obviously a passion had taken hold.


                 Now, in 2013, the ballet competency Terra has achieved requires between 25 and 40 hours a week in ballet classes, rehearsals, and performances. Homeschooling allows Terra the flexibility she needs, but has also made it possible for her to take advantage of some tremendous opportunities.  In the summers of 2010 and 2011, Terra attended five-week-long ballet programs at the Washington School of Ballet in D.C. At the end of the second summer, she was invited to stay year round for their Professional Training Program.  "It was truly an honor for me to be offered this incredible opportunity. My hard work had earned me the right to work even harder!  My parents have said many times that because of my passion for ballet, they couldn't say no when this opportunity presented itself. I was 16 years old at the time, so my mom relocated to the Atlantic coast with me. My dad stayed in Phoenix because of his job. Recently he started doing consulting work, which has allowed him to spend more time with us here in Washington D.C."


                 As is the case with most opportunities, one adventure leads to another. "In the summer of 2009, I spent three weeks in Paris, France, to study ballet at the Académie Américaine de Danse de Paris. My mom came along to chaperone me. This was our first time in Europe. We studied French for several months before our trip, and continued to study it for a couple of years afterwards. While in France, we visited Giverny, a small city north of Paris, to see Claude Monet's garden. I also visited the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Palace of Versailles. We were lucky enough to be there for Bastille Day, and saw a fantastic fireworks display at theEiffel Tower.

  Last summer, my parents and I spent two weeks in Amsterdam, the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. Though the primary reason for being there was for my ballet training at the National Ballet Academy of Amsterdam, we saw plenty of art and history museums, and lots of amazing architecture. We spent most of our time in Amsterdam, with the exception of a day-long tour to the countryside where we visited Marken and Volendam. There we saw the old Dutch windmills, artisan cheese making, wooden clogs, and historic fishing villages. "


Terra's life may seem like a dream come true, but there is more than dreaming going on in the dance studio for hours a day. "Ballet is difficult. Sometimes it feels like everything is working against me, but so far I have managed to keep pushing through the exhausting times. I've had many minor injuries (muscle strains, blisters, bruised toenails, tendonitis) and recently I've had to work through my first major foot injury.  A big part of recovering from that meant overcoming mental obstacles including self-doubt and fears about how the injury could affect my future.  Dancers spend hour after hour working to refine every detail of their movement, constantly evaluating themselves and looking for everything that can be done better. In the past I would get really frustrated with myself. That is one obstacle I've been working to overcome. When I work without frustration and negativity I'm happier, more motivated, and have the ability to focus my energy on what I'm doing. Everything becomes more enjoyable."




Passion, perseverance, opportunity.


If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you."
- T. Alan Armstrong,
Author and Writer




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