Childers teaching Appalachian dance at Northwest School

By Ryan Ottney

October 1, 2013

Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

Batavia musician Russ Childers has returned to Northwest Elementary this year for the Ohio Art Council’s Artist in Residency program, teaching 4th grade students about Appalachian music.

“The program is to introduce kids to the various forms of art. My art, or my specialty, is traditional mountain music from the Appalachian region of our country. I’m a master banjo player. I’m also a fiddle player, a square dance caller, storyteller, and of course I sing some of the mountain songs as well,” Childers said.

This is the third year Childers has participated in the program at Northwest School. The first couple of years, he said, students were shy about participating, but now the kids look forward to his visit every year. Childers arrived at Northwest for another session last week, and he’ll stay through this week teaching nearly 100 4th grade students about square dancing.

“I teach them square dance vocabulary. We talk about how the dances are all patterns, and the patterns are all math. Like, if you’re doing math, to solve a math problem you follow a certain series of patterns. I talk to the kids about that, as well,” Childers said. “They are doing absolutely great. They are really excelling. They are doing a wonderful job.”

After a frantic two weeks of practice, the kids will have a chance to show off what they’ve learned.

“Thursday afternoon, we’re going to do a program for the remainder of the school,” Childers said. “Thursday evening, we’re doing yet another program for their parents so they can see what’s going on.”

The shows continue on Friday, he said, when some of the kids will perform at the John Simon’s Sorghum Festival.

Childers said he enjoys visiting the school each year with the Artist in Residency program. For more information about Childers, visit him online at

Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.