Traveling classroom educates young performers

HOUSTON It's certainly not the flashier part of a traveling circus. In fact, he couldn't perform in front of an audience if he tried.

"Occasionally I work on juggling, but I'm a way beginner," Jonathan Leiss said.

Leiss does his own type of high-wire balancing act by teaching kids whose parents are part of the Ringling Brothers traveling circus. From first grade to a high school senior, the 15-student school teacher teaches everyone, including third grader Katherine Stuart, who sees an upside to the traveling school.

"I get to go to different places and see cool things like museums and parks and aquariums, and what the town looks like," she said.

With the hundreds of performers and professionals that make up the traveling circus, having a year-round school just down the hall provides peace of mind.

"The kids get a lot of one-on-one attention that's lacking in regular school programs, so I think that's a huge benefit," Mary Stuart, Katherine's mother, said.

While maybe not the surroundings that are envisioned when someone runs away to the circus, for Leiss it is the one teaching job that teaches him something new every day.

He said, "After so many months, it's easy to forget this is not a typical situation."

The circus will be in Houston until July 26.

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