Uplifting, toe-tapping music lingers in the hallway outside the dance studio at Lower Richland High School.
Chances are you’ll hear dance instructor Monessa Salley, the recently named 2013 South Carolina Dance Educator of the Year, motivating her students by saying “just try it, you never know if you can do it until you try it.”
Salley will be formally recognized as state Dance Educator of the Year in November at an awards luncheon hosted by the South Carolina Dance Association.
Salley said she believes it’s important to have a strong relationship of mutual respect and creativity with her students. She often allows them to add their own feedback on the choreography and on how they can help each other learn and perform the routines.
“I believe that each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring, and stimulating atmosphere in which to grow and mature physically, emotionally, intellectually, and socially,” said Salley. She sees dance as an outlet for expressing feelings and ideas and enjoys helping students get in touch with their emotions, thoughts and artistic impulses.
The Sumter native, who fell in love with dance at a young age, received a bachelor’s degree in dance performance from Winthrop University. She went on to pursue a master’s degree in education/divergent learning from Columbia College, allowing her to teach dance in the school system and eventually in Richland 1.
Right now Salley and her students are hard at work perfecting their dance routine for an upcoming show. Their production of “Time Travel” premieres Nov. 14 in the school theatre at Lower Richland High.
Submitted by Richland 1