North Carolina Dance Theatre and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Honor Dance Educator, Dance Champion and Dance Student

2011 Salute to Educators Award Winners:

Dance Educator of the Year: Debbie Gresham

Debbie Gresham headshot for NCDT 2011.JPGDebbie Gresham received a degree in dance education from the University of North Carolina Charlotte and has been a dance educator in the North Carolina School System for 16 years. She earned her National Board Certification in 2009. Gresham has been teaching dance at Bradley Middle School for the past 4 years. She has grown the dance program to serve over 800 students in the school, resulting in the need to hire a second full time dance teacher.

Greham has served as a cooperating teacher for seven student teachers from UNC Charlotte. She is the fine arts department chair at Bradley and coaches the 7th grade Dance Team and 7th grade all boys Dance Crew. This year her dance students have performed at Bobcat’s games, Festival in the Park, Steam/ The CMS Parent University Event, numerous community events, the Angels of 97 Fundraiser Event and Bradley’s Habitat for Humanity Kickoff Rally.

Gresham’s dance students led the way with the 2010 “Charlotte, Get Your Move On” health initiative and have been selected as an official school for Michelle Obama’s 2011 “LETS MOVE” health campaign to fight childhood obesity. Twelve students from the dance program have been invited to perform at the Department of Education, in Washington, D.C., on May 2, 2011.

Dance Champion of the Year: Liz Boulware

Liz Boulware.jpgLiz Boulware, from Spring Lake N.J., graduated from Wake Forest in 1991 and has lived in Charlotte ever since. Growing up the Nutcracker was part of her families’ Christmas tradition; most notably, her grandmother took her to the Lincoln Center to see a performance. 

Boulware and her husband Scott have two children: Camille, age 10, and Marin, age 7. Both of her children attend Eastover Elementary and take dance classes at NC Dance Theatre School of Dance. Camille has performed in the Nutcracker for 3 years.

As members of Dilworth United Methodist Church, Boulware became acquainted with the literacy coordinator at Reid Park Elementary and her church women’s circle began volunteering at Reid Park. She has tutored for 5 years and now serves as the liaison between her church and Reid Park. With the leadership of Mary Sturge, the School’s principal, Boulware and her church group now provides tutoring, teacher support, uniforms, mentors, volunteers and financial support for programs like field trips.  

Two years ago the group decided a performance of NC Dance Theatre’s Nutcracker would be an excellent cultural arts activity for the 2nd Graders at Reid Park. Members of the United Methodist Women helped support the trip. Boulware attended the performance and sat among the 2nd graders. “You can imagine what happened when the curtain went up,” said Boulware. “This was definitely my ‘Christmas Moment’.” 

This past December the Boulware’s, with support from their family, funded the 2nd Graders’ trip to Nutcracker. “Because of our personal involvement with NC Dance Theatre and Camille’s participation in the ballet, we decided this past December that as a family, we would support the trip as a Christmas gift to ourselves,” said Boulware. “Both Scott and I attended with the 2nd grade. They sat front and center and I am proud to say that their behavior was the best of any school group there!”

Dance Student of the Year: Ryan Clawson

Ryan Clawson.jpgRyan Clawson, 18, was born in Okinawa, Japan, and moved throughout the U.S. growing up. He started dancing jazz and tap in 2008 and began gymnastics training in 2009. Clawson’s ballet training began in the summer of 2010 at the NC Dance Theatre School of Dance.

Clawson is a student at Northwest School of the Arts and says his English teacher, Mrs. Chancey, has been most influential on him this year. “She not only teaches English, she has taught me how to mature as a person,” said Clawson.

This year Clawson participated in a NC Dance Theatre Dance-A-Story Program for preschoolers at Barnes & Noble at SouthPark. He also had fun serving as the Nutcracker mascot for Dance Theatre’s Nutcracker Educational Performance for school children at the Belk Theater.

“I love dancing and performing because it’s something that makes me happy,” said Clawson. “Throughout my life I have never found anything that makes me feel as I do when I’m dancing.”

About the Salute to Educators Awards
Each spring NC Dance Theatre requests nominations for Dance Educator of the Year, Dance Student of the Year and Dance Champion of the Year. Award winners are chosen by NC Dance Theatre’s Education Committee comprised of leaders from NC Dance Theatre and CMS.

 “North Carolina Dance Theatre is fortunate to work in partnership with a school system with strong dance education programs, and we are happy to celebrate the excellent work being done in our community. We hope this salute helps to foster increased awareness, promote continual development and celebrate dance programs, students and arts advocates in the CMS school system,” said April Berry, director of education and outreach for NC Dance Theatre.

NC Dance Theatre’s Department of Education and Outreach provides programs that bridge the community with the cultural arts. By offering special school performances, dance residency programs at schools, teacher workshops, behind the scenes tours and community dance workshops, NC Dance Theatre gives students and teachers opportunities to learn about dance as an art form.

For More Information
Contact Bianca Morgan, director of education and outreach, 704.372.0101x2767.