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Modern Day Manners

By Michelle Boudin | Photography by Courtesy of Aimee Symington

Posted: Thursday, Jul. 31, 2014

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When Aimee Symington sent her daughter to cotillion classes she was hoping the then sixth grader would get an education in southern hospitality. Not so. “I was mortified,” Symington says. “They weren’t learning table manners, or cell phone and social media etiquette. They were teaching the kids things that were just not relevant today. She was learning how to behave in a receiving line and how to respond when handed punch and cookies.” When neither mother or daughter were impressed, the 46 year old Davidson mom of two, took matters into her own hands, using her expertise as a business etiquette and customer service trainer, and created her own class.

“Impressions” is a three day class that will be taught at Charlotte area country clubs on consecutive Sundays for fifth, sixth and seventh graders. It’s a twist on traditional cotillion that includes basic manners without the old fashioned stuffiness. Everything from teaching kids to make small talk, properly greet others, and even how to dance the shag and the waltz.

Impressions is just Symington’s latest foray into Emily Post’s world. The founder of Finesse Worldwide, a company that specializes in social skills training, she has appeared on the Today show as an etiquette expert and created the board game “Blunders” in 2006 (a fun and interactive way to teach kids manners that’s used in homes and classrooms) that has been sold at Toys R Us since the Kathie Lee Gifford called Blenders one of her favorite things on the Today Show.

The Impressions classes will be taught this fall and Symington is hoping to eventually offer the classes nationwide. She’s convinced kids everywhere need this kind of manners training as much as they need a soccer coach and SAT prep classes.

“Parents these days put too much emphasis on their kids getting top grades, and not enough emphasis on social skills. If a kid is not able to make a good first impression, have good table manners, carry on a conversation… it honestly doesn’t matter how smart they are, they’re not going to get a job or get promoted. We need to teach this to them…I feel we need to get back to some of these basics to really help them with their future.”

Somewhere Emily Post is smiling. Politely, of course.

For more information on the classes, check out : www.FinesseWorldwide.com

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