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

Inspiration earns associate professor district honors

By Marley Malenfant/feature editor

Part five 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.

The idea of crunching numbers for the rest of her life drove Lacreacia Sanders crazy. During her junior year of college, she traded her business suit for a leotard.

The associate professor’s passion for dance began at age 6. After watching her mother dance, Sanders tried to imitate her.

“I think it was my mom living her dream through me,” she said. “She would dance at family parties, but she never had a lot of formal dance training. I think, as a kid, that’s what she wanted for me to do. And, luckily, I enjoyed it.”

In 2001, Sanders was hired on NW Campus as an adjunct, working closely with NE dance professor Linda Quinn, who was then on NW. Sanders said Quinn was an early influence.

“She was my mentor for a little bit, and we co-directed before she left to go to NE Campus,” she said.

Quinn said she was so impressed with Sanders’ enthusiasm for dance, she hired her.

“Her choreography was outstanding,” she said. “She’s very creative. I enjoyed the changes she’s made at NW Campus.”

During lectures, Sanders focuses on the individual needs of students. She also has advanced dance students help with novice dance students. She said she likes to see how her students work together. 

“Dance students can sometimes be put in teaching roles as well so that there’s a little peer teaching going on,” she said.

Her students tell her that though she’s tough, they always have fun, Sanders said.

“I do push them. The classes aren’t easy,” she said. “But at the same time while I’m pushing, I like to have a lot of laughter in my classes and a lot of smiling. No matter what level they’re on, as long as they’ve improved their technique or their social skills, I want them to feel they’ve accomplished something.”

NW student Michelle Becerra was new to dance when she got to the campus. She said at times she struggled with the dances Sanders laid out.

“She gives positive feedback no matter how frustrated she can get,” she said. “When we first got in Mosaic [NW dance company], we had to do jazz, and I just couldn’t do it. But she told me to keep doing it.”

Sanders doesn’t want stagnant lectures. She constantly attends dance workshops and sees what instructors are doing.

She wants her students to think outside the box. She said her hip-hop class allows them to do so.

“We’re taking movement and creating a story with hip-hop dance,” she said. “When beginner students come in, they think ‘Hip-hop is something I’ve seen on TV. I can just take those steps and mix them around.’ What we’re really looking at is a more creative perspective. We’re going for movement rather than just having a piece of music and stringing some steps together.”

NW student Melissa Hudgins, who is also in the dance company, said Sanders has taught her how dance can be a form of communication.

“She’s very good at explaining things,” she said. “With hip-hop, you do big movements. But with modern dance, it’s more soft and technical with your movement. If your movement is slow, people won’t get it. With hip-hop, it’s good to be crazy.”

NW student Tiffany Willis spent three years in the campus dance program. Working with Sanders in the dance company, Willis said Sanders is supportive of all her students.

“She’s willing to work with students, and she’s understanding,” she said.

“She connects on a personal level, and she knows what she’s doing.”

Sanders said she tries to rid her lectures of stereotypes. She said many students wouldn’t expect a black woman to teach a dance course like ballet.

“Obviously, a lot of people think you have to be a certain skin color in order to do hip-hop, and you don’t,” she said. “I’m a short black woman teaching ballet. I do talk to my students early in the semester. It’s not about how you look or the preconceived idea that you have to have a certain body type or look a certain way to do any type of a dance form.”

NW student Andrea Paris, who’s been in the Mosaic dance company for a year, said Sanders is easy to work with.

“First day of class, she teaches us a short combination to see where we all are at,” she said. “She’ll say some are ahead and some don’t know the fundamentals. But she makes it fun and educational. You can be a newbie and enjoy the class.”

Sanders’ ultimate goal is to build confidence in her students. She’ll notice the growth in her students who are nervous at first because they may feel out of place or are concerned with their appearance.

“We try to get rid of those fears in the beginning and tell them everybody is there to step out of what’s comfortable,” she said.

“You can move for the rest of your life. I want them to go away knowing that dance can change you as a person, not just what your body can do.”

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