Los Altos resident Jane Carter traveled to New York last month to accept one of four 2014 Dance Teacher of the Year Awards from Dance Teacher Magazine.
The national award recognized Carter’s skill in nurturing young dancers at her private studio, Dance Academy USA in Cupertino.
Carter said she wasn’t prepared to give a speech before a ballroom packed with hundreds of colleagues, but two of her daughters attended with her to offer their encouragement.
“Really, this award, to me, is about the teachers (at my studio),” said Carter, honored in the Private Studio category of the peer-nominated competition. “I am so proud of them, I feel like I’m receiving the award for them.”
According to Carter, when she opened her studio 25 years ago, she had no idea her work would have such a profound impact on so many young people. From 150 students during her first year of teaching to more than 1,600 students currently, Carter has instructed more than 35,000 students since 1990.
Carter said the rewards of teaching include watching “3-year-olds become great adults” and shy children emerge from their shells as they progress through a season of lessons.
“To see how much they’ve blossomed … that makes you so proud,” she said.
With a full-time teaching staff of 35, Carter not only teaches, but also choreographs the team harmony that enables Dance Academy USA to thrive. When hiring and evaluating instructors that teach more than 228 weekly classes, Carter said she looks for characteristics that a parent would exhibit with a child.
“You can be a great dancer, but not a great teacher,” she added. “If you’re really about caring for those kids and love being in that room with those kids, you’ll be a good teacher.”
Dance Academy USA is located at 21269 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 618, Cupertino. For more information, visit danceacademyusa.com.