Lesson Plan

Role Models and Stereotypes: Misty Copeland's Story

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Kent G. Becker / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

GRADE LEVEL: Elementary School

COMMON CORE STANDARDS: Reading, Speaking and Listening

Misty Copeland is a thirty-three year old ballerina who recently became the first African American performer to be appointed as a Principal Dancer for the American Ballet Theater in its 75 year history. Copeland joined the studio company of American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in 2000, becoming a soloist several years later and starring in a range of productions such as The Nutcracker and Firebird. The ballerina has written two autobiographical books; one for adults called Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, a New York Times best-selling memoir, and the award-winning children’s picture book Firebird. In April 2015, Copeland was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time magazine and a new documentary film about her life called A Ballerina’s Tale was released in October 2015. Copeland has talked publicly about the harmful influence of the stereotypes about being a ballerina and also how being the first African American Principal Dancer makes her an important role model for children of color.

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn about Misty Copeland, reflect on her experiences and story and explore how stereotypes and role models influence career aspirations and decisions.