Anna Shetler

HoodHop founder has high hopes for youths

HoodHop founder has high hopes for youths

May 18, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN --For four years, Anna Shetler has taught children in the "hot spot" neighborhoods of Hagerstown how to dance.

On summer days, they practice hip hop, breakdancing, jazz and more exotic international dances in local parking lots and parks.

"It's the easiest to get in trouble in those neighborhoods, because there isn't anything going on," Shetler said.

So, once a week in the summer, Shetler, 22, teaches dance to youths ages 4 to 17 through a free program she calls HoodHop.

"All the kid has to do is show up," she said.

Children from the neighborhoods involved in the program -- Noland Village, Wheaton Park, North Springs Apartments, Northhaven mobile home park, Fairgrounds, Pangborn Park, Washington Gardens and the West End -- compete in a dance competition at the end of each summer.

HoodHop got a financial boost last year when Shetler won a $10,000 grant as part of the Maybelline New York Beauty of Education Awards.


Her mother, Donna Shetler, applied for the grant on HoodHop's behalf in the summer of 2008. Anna Shetler was honored at an awards dinner in New York City in December 2008.

The award recognizes women who motivate, mentor and make a difference in their communities through the power of education, according to a news release from Maybelline.

"I'm going to use it to make the program in the summertime so much better," Shetler said.

She plans to open HoodHop to new neighborhoods and hire additional dance teachers. Some of the children she taught now help her teach younger dancers.

She might even expand the program to Frederick, Md., and Chambersburg, Pa., she said.

Shetler, who graduated from North Hagerstown High School in 2005, is studying math education at the University of Maryland. In May, she wants to return to Hagerstown to teach and to continue her dance program.

HoodHop needs a place to grow, she said.

"We can't teach dance outside in the snow and ice. And we still practice in parking lots," Shetler said.

Eventually, she wants to purchase the former armory on North Potomac Street -- a place she calls "the castle" -- and turn it into a center for the arts.

"I hope to create a permanent place where they can go and engage in the arts and be safe," she said of the program that offers more than just dancing.

HoodHop is about "helping them learn to help themselves. They really can do whatever it is they want to do," Shetler said.

Q&A with Anna Shetler

Resides in: College Park, Md.

Occupation: Student

Q: What is your proudest moment?

A: "Every single time one of my kids is able to ... choose doing the right thing over doing what everybody else is doing. I know that we had something to do with that."

Q: Whom do you most admire, and why?

A: "Jesus. People will always disappoint you and let you down. He will never disappoint you."

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have received, and who gave it to you?

A: Shetler said her mother told her not to let people look down on her because she is young.

Q: What is the next goal you would like to achieve?

A: Shetler wants to buy the former armory building on North Potomac Street and turn it into a center for the arts.

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