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Local woman nominated as Dance Instructor of the Year

BY DANI MESSICK

dmessick@elkharttruth.com

ELKHART — Former Concord High School dance instructor Stephanie Pairitz was recently nominated for the third annual National Dance Instructor of the Year Award Series, which is presented by Greatmats.

The award honors instructors who have made a positive impact in their community and nominees are selected by their peers or other members of the community for their service, integrity and quality. Throughout the year, Greatmats also has award series for martial arts, cheerleading coaches, dog trainers, horse trainers and personal trainers.

Pairitz has been dancing since she was young at her mother’s studio; she began teaching when she was just 16 years old at the YWCA. She’s danced for Southold Dance Theater, Barnum and Bailey Circus, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Great America. She opened her own dance studio in Granger and paid her way through college through pageants, at one point being named first runner up for Miss Indiana.

After college, Pairitz devoted herself to teaching English and Dance at Concord High School, where she stayed for nine years. It was there that she and Concord’s resource officer Rich Madison noticed, “the kids that were getting in trouble a lot – they were incredibly athletic.”

“They were doing flips off the bleachers and stuff,” Pairitz explained. So she developed the Concord Best Dance Crew as an after school program for at-risk youth at Concord High School. Some of her dancers had grown up in foster care, or been involved in gangs, or had police records.

“I had students that overcame so many obstacles.”

They began mentoring each other and the program evolved, they won national competitions and the kids grew.

“Students started making better

See INSTRUCTOR, PAGE A8

Stephanie Pairitz was recently nominated for Greatmat’s Dance Instructor of the Year. She is shown with a class of students at her new studio, Epic Dance Studios, which opened in Elkhart in September.

Elkhart Truth photo / Dani Messick

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