From the streets of El Salvador to a classroom in DC, this teacher is passing on worldly lessons through dance.

ByAndie Judson

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WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Edwin Sorto isn’t your normal teacher… he’s a cool teacher.

At least, that’s what his students say.

Edwin teaches many subjects at the college-preparatory public school KIPP DC, including physical education, art, dance and Spanish. But what he’s most known for are his dance moves, which are obvious as he tangos, waltzes and sambas through the school’s halls.

Edwin was around his students’ age when he began dancing.

Growing up in El Salvador, he danced everywhere and anywhere – from family gatherings to break dancing with children in his neighborhood.

“It’s always been an outlet for me,” said Edwin.

When his single mother decided to move him and his brother to the United States, 13-year-old Edwin relied on dance and music.

To teach himself English, Edwin would translate the lyrics in songs he danced to. It helped him better connect to the language, American culture and other teenagers in his new country.

“I found out that dance was universal,” said Edwin.

Alongside dance, Edwin treasured his education. He is the first in his family to graduate from college. So, it made sense to him to combine his two passions – education and dance.

The 2018-2019 school year marks Edwin’s fifth year of teaching. Dance serves as a way to teach his students about different cultures, perseverance and confidence.

“It teaches them that sometimes things can be hard… but that’s okay. We get to be silly. They get to be them,” said Edwin. “I believe that diversity makes us strong. Through dance, my kids have been able to appreciate different cultures.”

In addition to those internal lessons, the students’ skills have sky-rocketed. Edwin credits dance and the arts for allowing their skills to blossom.

“Giving the kids an outlet to express themselves is an additional outlet to what they could become,” said Edwin.  “If this wasn’t given to them, it would have been hidden. It wouldn’t have been there and never gotten out. I’m glad I’m doing it.”