Dr. Worden, English teacher and — ballroom dancer


Photo courtesy of Ellias Velasquez

Instead of curling up in a recliner with a book, three times a week English department chair Dr. Thomas Worden can be found Waltzing, Tangoing and Triple Swinging at the Arthur Murray of Columbia. 

Worden and his wife had a brief stint with ballroom dancing when they first met, but ultimately had to give it up due to time constraints. 

“She [Worden’s wife] and I met in 2003, and for each of us this is our second marriage, so we were busy with little kids; we were doing Irish dancing over here in Rockville for a little while, but then it became too much so we stopped,” Worden said. 

Worden has been ballroom dancing for nearly eight years and originally began ballroom dancing as a gift to his wife. 

“I knew that she really liked to dance … I thought this would be a nice gift for her, so for Christmas in 2011 I got her a 50 dollar gift certificate at the Arthur Murray up in Columbia,” Worden said.

Worden and his wife do many different styles including the Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Rumba, Cha-Cha, Samba and Triple Swing which is their favorite. The couple chooses not to compete, choosing to simply do the sport for fun, unlike sophomore Shevi Lerner. 

Lerner has been ballroom dancing since the age of eight and currently trains and competes for the Avant-Garde dance center. Lerner is also on the girl’s varsity softball team which Worden coaches. 

“I thought that it was really really cool [that Worden does ballroom dancing], and [it is] definitely something that you would not expect but is really awesome,” Lerner said. “We don’t imagine our teachers to be doing things that we would do outside of school, yet they do.”

Worden also reflected upon his dancing and the effect it has on his teaching. 

“I also find the way in which the curriculum at Arthur Murray works to be very instructive with respect to scope and sequence,” Worden said. “The way in which pieces of individual dances keep reappearing … so that a move we do in rumba is similar to one we do in swing has also helped me think about how I might reinforce through repetition in slightly different formats the same skill sets.”

Though Worden and his wife do not compete, they still dance outside of lessons when they attend parties or listen to friends’ bands, and they plan to continue doing so in the future. 

“This is a life sport, we do not care about where we are [progression wise], it is going to take us as long as it takes and we are in it for the long game. I see us doing this until we can’t physically do it anymore,” Worden said.