Throughout the school year, Travis Goosen can be found in an elementary classroom teaching his students lessons on science and history.
This weekend, visitors to the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival can find him doing the same thing in a slightly different manner.
Goosen along with his partner Mary Donnell-Brown will both be entertaining audiences on the science and history of Ragtime dance throughout the Festival this weekend.
“I have to say I was really surprised when they asked me to be a part of the Festival,” Goosen said by phone Tuesday evening. “I’ve been performing and dancing for a long time but this event is something totally new and different for me.
“I have an idea in my mind of what the weekend will be like but I think that is probably only a fraction of what it actually will be,” he added. “Above all I think it will be a great giant celebration of Ragtime and the people who enjoy the music.”
Goosen and Donnell-Brown are both from Cole Camp but did not know one another personally until they met after being approached to perform at Joplin.
“Cole Camp is a small community and my father knows Mary but we hadn’t met until about a year ago,” Goosen said. “She has taught dance for over 20 years and she is a wonderful person.
“The year that we have been working on this has been a really interesting process,” he added. “We have really gotten along great and I have really learned a lot throughout all of this.”
Goosen said for the past year he and Donnell-Brown have been doing their research on ragtime perfecting their techniques and performances.
“Ragtime is definitely a very different style of dance,” Goosen said. “It’s a very fast paced dance with a lot of toe flicks.
“I think one of the things I really hope to teach people is no matter what their age, they shouldn’t be afraid to try to dance,” Goosen said. “I always try to teach my students (in school) don’t worry so much about being cool, just get out there and try because it can really help a person overcome their stage fright and it really helps to build confidence in a person.”
Helping his elementary students to learn and grow is something Goosen has been very successful at in his three years of teaching.
Goosen graduated from Central Methodist University and has taught the past three years at Otterville Elementary School.
In only his second year of teaching, Goosen was awarded the Missouri Association of Rural Educators (MARE) Elementary Teacher of the Year.
Next year, he will teach science and social studies in the fifth and sixth grades at Lincoln.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Otterville and I will always be grateful to them,” Goosen said. “It was a tough decision to leave but Lincoln is closer to home for me and my parents will be able to attend more of the school functions my students are involved in this way.
“I love teaching elementary students because they are still little kids but they really enjoy learning at this age,” he added.
Goosen was involved with many of the musicals and drama productions while teaching at Otterville and hopes to do the same at Lincoln.
In addition to his teaching duties, he is looking forward to coaching junior high basketball next year.
“I love sports,” Goosen said. “I played soccer in college and my friends and I are either out at a game or competing in something ourselves.
“We love to go out dancing too, it’s just a part of who I am,” he added. “I’ve always worked, even though I’ve only been teaching a few years because I grew up on my family’s farm and I have always worked there.”
With his work on the farm, teaching and dancing and doing what he loves is important.
“When I started at CMU I was going to major in business,” Goosen said. “After my first business class I realized that wasn’t for me.
“I think it’s important for people to love what they do,” Goosen added. “That’s why the Joplin Festival is such a great opportunity — I get to share my love of dancing with others who have a love of Ragtime.”
Goosen and Donnell-Brown will be performing at the Cakewalk Hall inside the Fox Event Center afternoons throughout the Festival.
Each hour of lessons will be followed by a 60-minute practice session with live piano accompaniment.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484