October 2015 | Teacher in the Spotlight | Lisa Marie Pelton


Lisa Marie Pelton

Owner/teacher, Miss Lisa’s Artistry of Dance, Hornell, New York

NOMINATED BY: Kim Wood, mother: “In 2003, Lisa opened her school with 80 students. Since then, it has grown and she is living her dream. She is blessed with a 4-year-old son and also a beautiful daughter born two years ago with cystic fibrosis. When she is tired or has been up all night with a sick child, she lights up when she walks into her studio, sees her students, and gets energized to dance with them once again.”


AGES TAUGHT: 2 to adult

GENRES TAUGHT: Tap, jazz, hip-hop, ballet, lyrical, modern, musical theater, Irish step

Photo by Kari Schwartz Images

Photo by Kari Schwartz Images

WHY SHE CHOSE TEACHING: I have wanted to be a dance teacher for as long as I can remember. I have always liked working with people and love the arts and theater. I think dance teachers are special because we have such a rewarding job; it’s fun to work with students who want to be where you are, learning and having fun and being challenged.

STUDIO OWNER CHALLENGES: When you have teachers who work for you for many years and then move on for personal reasons. I am so used to people always being around that when people leave it is hard on me. I’ve also had to learn how to stand up for myself and not be pushed around.

HELPING HER COMMUNITY: In my family we were raised to help others, and I have volunteered all my life. I have sponsored golf tournaments, races, and yearbook staffs, and donated money to organizations. I am involved in the Hornell VFW Ladies Auxiliary and have worked on dinners and fundraisers, and also with the Junior Girls unit. I choreograph, stage manage, and do makeup for local musicals.

MENTORING TEENS: I think they listen to me because I’m a young teacher. They know I will help them and that they can trust me during times of struggle, when they need advice on how to live the right way, or when they just need someone to stop and listen.

WHY FIELD A COMPETITION TEAM: I was against competition but then thought it would be a good idea because it builds teamwork, makes students responsible, and helps to build confidence. I’ve seen growth in my students, and it’s amazing to take dancers from a smalltown studio and come out on top in larger cities. It says a lot about my students.

HOW STUDENTS DESCRIBE HER: Caring, kind, and funny, and that I give my whole heart and love to do what I do for others.

BEST LESSON FROM A TEACHER: To always get on the students’ level, and to always be true to yourself and know in your heart what is right.

FAVORITE CHOREOGRAPHER: Rich Ashworth, a teacher at Dance Masters of America Teacher Training School in Buffalo, New York. I love his style of teaching and how he makes learning fun. That is how I want my students to remember me.

MOST MEMORABLE PERFORMANCE: The Lion King. It was absolutely amazing and I could watch it over and over again.