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National Teacher Appreciation Week 2017

This D.C. teacher puts a fun salsa twist on regular kindergarten curriculum

Students are learning to dance bachata along with their basic lesson plan

Educator Edwin Sorto has added an interesting twist to make his core curriculum fun and entertaining. Hint: It includes a group of talented 5-year-olds dancing the merengue better than some adults.

Sorto, who teaches up to 30 kindergartners for 45 minutes at a time at KIPP DC Promise Academy in Southeast Washington, D.C., used his background as a professional dancer to liven up his lesson plan and introduce his students to different styles of dancing and culture.

“I work with African-American kids in underserved communities,” Sorto told Inside Edition. “It’s joyful to see those kids show their talent and show their expression through dance.”

Sorto piqued his students’ interest in dancing after showing them a video of his moves. He now works the choreography of popular Caribbean dances such as salsa, merengue and bachata into his daily schedule alongside the required curriculum of mathematics and sciences. Sorto also teaches physical education, art and Spanish. Although some of the moves can get pretty tricky, Sorto’s students are fast learners. The moves not only help with choreography but also are instilling discipline, social skills and teamwork.

Two years ago, Sorto began uploading videos of his students dancing and learning to his Facebook page, where they quickly went viral. His most-watched video has been viewed more than 2 million times.

“They work incredibly hard at both academics and dance, and they absolutely deserve the recognition,” Sorto told USA Today. “They’re proud of what they do and love to see people’s reactions, comments and likes on their videos. Their parents are also incredibly supportive. My kids are great, and this is just one more thing that keeps them engaged in school.”

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.