Hi there! Thanks for stopping by!
My name is Ruark Downey and I've been working with children in the 0-5 age group since the spring of 2005. I started my career working with Gymboree Play and Music in New York City, although at the time I was unaware that I was starting my career. At that point working with kids was a side job. I graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting in 2003 and I intended to pursue a career as an actor. Also as a rock star. I've been a singer/songwriter and a guitar player since I was a kid and being a rock star seemed like another viable option. So that's where my focus began.
But here's what happened. Almost instantly after I started to work with babies and toddlers and their families, I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the excitement, wonder and profound joy that brand new human beings bring into people's lives. I found spending time with this age group to be extremely meaningful and fulfilling work, helping little ones discover themselves and the world around them and helping them find confidence through socialization, repetition, trust and of course music and silliness. I was inspired and moved and I became more interested in filling my schedule with baby classes than heading out to auditions or late night gigs. I began spending more time reading literature on child development than reading scripts. I was writing more kids songs than I was writing songs for my band. I was discovering what I'm meant to be doing and I was loving it.
I worked for several years and learned much from many outstanding and acclaimed children's companies in NYC (Gymboree Play and Music, Kidville NYC, Little Maestros, Songs of Love Foundation, Striking Viking Story Pirates, La Palestra Kids, YMCA, several Pre-Schools and more) before I started to realize that I wanted to create my own classes. I wanted to connect all the various pieces of experience I had gathered to my own vision of what makes a successful children's program. It was time to start my own company.
In the spring of 2011 Roots With Ruark was born. It started with one class. Within a few weeks it turned into two classes. Within a year I was supporting myself solely from my own company and a year after that I had a sold out schedule with a waiting list of clients eager to take my class. My choice to make a career out of music and early childhood development has been validated for me time and time again. It's been validated by the positive responses I have received from nearly every family with whom I've worked. It's been validated through the word of mouth that has lead me to thousands of classes, parties and events and has brought me to hundreds and hundreds of happy families. It's been validated by Jenna Wolfe from NBC's Today Show coming to try my class for a piece she was doing on "must try" baby classes in NYC. It's been validated by the many various Mommy/Daddy blogs and websites that tell their peers to take my class or book me for a party. But above all, it's been validated by the trust and confidence that all of these many families have placed in me (week after week, month after month and year after year), inviting me into their homes and trusting my influence with their most valuable gifts. It means the absolute world to me. It's an honor and a privilege and it's not a responsibility I take lightly.
My goal is to provide a class that you and your child will look forward to most every single week. My goal is to provide a music class that encourages your children to sing out loud and use their bodies, giving them an experience that will teach them to fall in love with music. My goal is to create a safe environment where your little one will learn confidence and trust through repetition, socialization and fun. My goal is to provide outstanding entertainment for your party or event so that afterwards everyone tells you that the music was the highlight.
I hope you'll reach out and try my class or book me for your special event. It will be a great time for all. We'll plant a song and watch it grow :)