The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE dance instructor shares passion to teach others

By marley malenfant/features editor

Part two in a five-part series on winners of the Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching, an annual recognition of professors who impress and inspire their students.One thing was always certain for Linda Quinn. She always loved to dance. Quinn’s students should thank her mother for convincing her to teach.

A conversation with her mother edged Quinn to get a teaching certificate while studying for her bachelor’s at Texas Wesleyan University.

“I enjoyed working at the dance studios in high school and college, but I didn’t really intend to be a teacher,” she said. “I really wanted to go to New York and be a professional dancer specializing in musical theater.”

Quinn’s first experience teaching was at Nolan High School in Fort Worth, when she started the school’s first dance company.

Quinn, who was a student on NE Campus, taught her first college class on NW Campus as an adjunct.

She taught theater appreciation and physical education. But Quinn was disappointed to know that none of the campuses had a dance company at the time.

“I said to Mike Matthews, who was the dean of humanities at the time, ‘You don’t really have a dance program here,’” she said. “He said, ‘Well, no, we don’t.’ So I said I wanted to start a second eight-week dance company here on the NW Campus.”

Quinn said her students use dance to entertain as well as help others in the community. Her students even raised $1200 in a silent auction and donated the check to a nonprofit group that helps fight AIDS.

“We took that check up to Broadway Cares headquarters in New York City and gave it to dancers responding to AIDS,” she said. “The neat thing was we performed up there at the Broadway Cares headquarters in front of a large crowd.”

Quinn said students take her for the variety of classes she offers. Over the years, she has taught classical ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, ballroom and country/western.

“I think students come back to my classes because I know them as individuals,” she said. “I appreciate their talents, and I think I tried to look at my student’s potential so I can head them in the right direction.”

Quinn said she keeps her lessons fresh by never teaching the same thing twice. She tries to incorporate new ideas into all her classes.

“I’m always taking other teachers’ classes,” she said. “I’m always watching video. If I go on vacation, I’ll try to find local dance teachers and study with them. I may be teaching a tap class this fall, but if you take it this spring with me, we’re going to cover different things, and I’m going to teach completely different classes.”

NE student Marita Gardner has taken eight of Quinn’s classes. She said Quinn doesn’t put her students on a scale but instead recognizes each student’s ability.

“She encourages you to challenge yourself on your own level,” she said. “It’s not about doing it perfectly with her.”

NW student Lee Neisler said he wasn’t sure what he was going to school for until he took a class with Quinn. After taking his first class with Quinn in 2000, he knew he wanted to be a teacher.

“I watched her work with a lot of mentally challenged dancers, and you can tell she is sincere with everyone she works with. It’s not for show,” he said. “She inspired me and opened the door for me. I took enough classes with her to the point she’ll trust me to drive the class, and she’ll sit back.”

Quinn said she reminds her students that not everyone is on the same level as a dancer, but by the end of the semester, she wants all her students to leave with the same amount of confidence.

“I want them to realize their potential,” she said.

“I want them to realize that they really can do what they want to do in life. It may not be exactly the path they intended to take. I want them to realize that they do have the ability to be the person they want to be.”

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