Back to School
Investing in teacher training is a smart business practice.
The best teachers are constantly learning and adapting, but as a business owner, you know that continuing education isn’t free. Teacher-training programs range in expense and time commitment, but they are an investment in your business that’s well worth the cost. Not only can you market the credentials of your faculty, the initial expense can often be recouped through increased enrollment. But as with making any smart investment, the key is knowing what will benefit your business most.
Weekend workshops offer teachers a way to refresh their creativity and stay current on industry trends. And because they’re relatively low-cost, they are ideal for studio owners sending multiple faculty members. Wendy Leard of the Wendy Leard School of Dance in Niagara Falls, Ontario, sent five instructors to The PULSE Teacher Workshop in New York City last summer. Leard covered tuition—roughly $390 per teacher.
Faculty includes celebrity choreographers like Tyce Diorio, Laurieann Gibson and many teachers from Broadway Dance Center. “It’s such a great weekend of training, and it only benefits my studio,” says Leard. “We come away feeling energized, and it enables us to bring home exciting choreography and ideas that we can pass on to students.”
Leard markets her faculty’s continuing education in newsletters and on a plaque hanging in the studio. “I haven’t seen another studio from our area at the Teacher Workshop,” she says. “Word gets around about the caliber of classes that we teach.”
Summer intensives require a lengthier time commitment. For instance, the Dance Masters of America Teachers Training School is a weeklong event, held on the campus of SUNY Buffalo. It costs roughly $1,000, including room, board and tuition, and teachers attend up to seven classes daily. And because intensives like this offer a comprehensive curriculum—DMA’s core classes include ballet, jazz, modern dance, tap and children’s creative dance—they’re beneficial for those who teach many dance disciplines.
Roseann Miranda of Miranda Dance Academy in West Seneca, New York, has completed DMA’s Teachers Training School and attends most national conventions. “I take advantage of what I’ve learned each year and make changes in my curriculum or music,” she says. Time and money spent on the programs boosts her studio’s reputation: Providing dance education that is safe and age-appropriate has helped keep her in business for 39 years.
Miranda says that parents looking for classes that simply fit into their schedules don’t always appreciate her commitment to continuing education. Still, because of the training she receives each summer, she is confident in the quality of education she offers. “I don’t know if they always consider my qualifications and enroll based on that fact,” she says. “But I know that the students will be given proper training at the right age.”
Attending a certification program is the biggest commitment in time and money, and completion of programs often requires testing or adjudication. To be licensed to teach the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum, for example, candidates must pass examinations adjudicated by ABT program directors and faculty. Certification in the curriculum’s nine levels costs about $4,325 (not including airfare or accommodations), and it’s split into three six- to eight-day intensives that take place in New York City, Orlando and San Jose, California.
These programs can have big returns. Jackie Stanton-Conley’s Ballet Studio 260 in White River Junction, Vermont, opened in 2008 with only 10 students. Now, 70 students fill her classes—something she attributes to being the only studio in her region to offer the ABT Curriculum. On her website, the ABT logo is one of the first things potential customers see. “The ABT ‘stamp’ speaks volumes about the quality of the product we offer, and it sets us apart from other schools in the area,” she says. “This year I have grown so large that I am moving out of my current space into a much larger building, so I can accommodate all my students.” DT
Hannah Maria Hayes holds an MA in dance education, American Ballet Theatre pedagogy emphasis, from New York University. Photo: Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet Teachers Workshop, by George Winchell, courtesy of CPYB