This 'Project Runway' for fifth-graders makes us want to go back to school.

Shani Perez combined her love of teaching with her passion for fashion to help kids express their individuality.

When your school year ends like this, having to go back in the fall doesn't seem as bad.

In May, classrooms are full of kids daydreaming about finally being done with their last test and jubilantly running headlong into the nearest pool. School is something you look forward to running from, not toward — that is, unless you're moving down an actual runway.

At the end of every school year, instead of sitting around and staring at some dirty white fan oscillate back and forth, kids in Shani Perez's class at Public School 51 in New York City get up off their chairs and create a full-on runway fashion show.


Shani Perez with her students at PS 51. All images via Old Navy.

That's right, New York City's hottest underground fashion show is put on entirely by fifth-graders.

This underground fashion show otherwise known as "PS 51 Project Runway" is the brainchild of Shani Perez — an educator with a passion for fashion.

Perez is that teacher, the one you can't wait to see each day. She combines her love of teaching with her degree in fashion design to create a unique and engaging program for her students.

More than just a fashion show, this program teaches kids the fundamentals of fashion design, from drawing out concepts for portfolios to sewing and working with fabric. In addition, each show has a theme, like candy or history, that helps guide the young designers and foster creativity.

Perez joins other educators from across the country who partnered with Old Navy's cause platform ONward! to create an album of songs that encourages kids to let their unique selves shine through.

A project like this is about so much more than clothes.

Even if her students don't go on to careers in fashion or design, getting them involved in a large-scale project requires them to organize, delegate, and problem-solve — important life skills for anyone.

Plus, giving students the opportunity to show off an outfit they created themselves is an awesome way to promote self-confidence and individuality.

The songs are catchy and sure to get you strutting yourself, but the most important message of all is for the kids: Own your personal style, and be confident in your individuality.

It's educators like Perez who turn school into something more and events like PS 51 Project Runway that help kids discover who they are and what they — and a functional school-to-playdate ensemble — is made of.

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