tickled pink on wednesday white

Ballerina, Zarina Stahnke, striking a pose in all white.

Screen shot 2012-08-01 at 1.53.28 PM

School starts in one week which means I’m back as Ballet Mistress at Seaside Neighborhood School, our local charter middle school.

Today was my officially my first day back at work.

After spending much of the day hacking away on my computer writing a course syllabus and lesson plans, let me say I have a HUGE respect for teachers!

Last year I may have briefly mentioned my new role, but became so busy with it all that I didn’t get a chance to really go into detail.  I’ll try to give you the reader’s digest version:  I co-founded a new Dance Education program for Seaside Neighborhood School with another dance instructor and SNS Principal, Cathy Brubaker.  With no funding, we were brave little warriors and committed to launching a five-day-a-week Dance Education program for students as an alternative to P.E.  After plenty of planning, patience and perseverance, we did it!  We actually found out only a few days before school started that the program was approved!  Talk about flying by the seat of your pants.

Seaside Times writer Susan Bennett Vallee helped get the word out and wrote a great article about our new program last year.  Thank you, Susan!  

seaside article

We had a great year and the students loved the program.  Happy students and lots of learning?  Success!!  Last year was my first year teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Ballet – we had a total of 23 students.  During the school year our dancers had three performances with our SNS Music Department.  We officially debuted!

Of note: our oldest attends SNS so it’s an added bonus when I get to see him at “work.”  ; )  We have three more kiddos in line for SNS after him.

Our program received heartfelt support from Seaside founders, Robert and Daryl Davis.  Three years ago, I started a Ballet class for the Mentor program with SNS students.  We didn’t have a studio or anywhere to dance, so Mr. and Mrs. Davis generously donated their beach home as a place for me to teach.  How generous is that???  I bought a few portable barres and we were ready to rock.  Here I am with our first group in 2009.  Many of these girls are now in high school!


This year Seaside Neighborhood School added a studio for all of our dance classes, which is beyond exciting!  Our mirrors were installed today and I nearly glued myself to the them in sheer delight after they went up…the nice guys installing them probably thought I was nuts.

studio mirror

The last thing I’ll say is this – in college I had a dream of starting a FREE dance program for students and actually started my own volunteer program called ARTS ALIVE.  I did some teaching and had high hopes of making it a big program someday.  20 years later it makes my heart flutter knowing that a program just like this has officially started.  Offering Dance Education and inspiration to students is a great privilege.  What an honor it is to be part of this incredible team…I feel so grateful.

Can’t wait to share more about our progress with you this year!

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  1. elizabeth says:

    Seleta, not only are you beautiful on the outside but on the inside as well! I love that something so close to your heart is now becoming a reality. Just think of all the young girls you are having such a positive influence on. Simply wonderful.

    Thanks for commenting on my blog today. I would absolutely *love* to share tea with you :)

  2. Claire says:

    You are full of so many surprises and have so much talent. What a gift to give students, the knowledge and skill of dance which will add poise for life. Ballet = grace. I love reading your blog.

  3. Nicole says:

    Best of luck to you as you begin your new teaching year! I’m a teacher myself but of school, not ballet, and always find I look forward to the fresh start of the new year with new students, families, and adventures!

  4. Shelley says:

    Congrats on all of your accomplishments with this wonderful program! I wish you a great year. As a former dancer – I love that you are including this in with their school.

  5. pve says:

    As you know I danced for 13 years and to this day, I hold a special place in my heart and in my feet for all dancers. How wonderful that you are doing this. You must be the most loved teacher in town~ those mirrors look amazing.

  6. Jenny says:

    many congrats! I have run the SNS race for the past two years and I can completely see why you love it!!

  7. mom22 says:

    Many a year I spent at a ballet bar. I carry that experience with me to this day. I remember seeing Baryshnikov dance with Martha Graham in the 80’s and I thought I had died and gone to heaven!!! What a great idea to have ballet as an alternative to P.E. Best wishes to you and your students with this new program. I know they will carry this experience with them through their lives, as well.

  8. Hope says:

    I absolutely love the freedom of creativity in Charter Schools. As much as I love Fairhope, we are faced with big decisions in our educational system. A dance program like this would be HUGE here. HUGE!

    Your students are truly blessed to have a passionate instructor like you.

  9. Hope says:

    Sorry, wrong address above. – oops.

  10. Nicole says:

    I am positive that your passion for the arts will have an indelible impact on your students and your children. You are an inspiration!! xo-nicole

  11. Annette says:

    Ballet is taught as an alternative to PE here in France. What a great thing you are doing for your young women and hopefully a few boys too! I also loved seeing Baryshnikov.

  12. Tim Gunn says:

    Oh so nice. This post is most inspiring and impressive.

  13. Leigh-Rochelle says:

    Love ballet. What an inspiration you are! What you do is incredible.

  14. Remi says:

    Seleta – What a wonderful opportunity for both you and the students. Congratulations on making your dream a reality.

  15. Erica says:

    Congratulations on your programme. You are very talented. Thank you for sharing your passion with your students.

  16. Crissy says:

    What a special gift to these girls and the community! What an inspiration.

  17. Hello lover says:


    You continue to inspire myself and surely any woman who happens across your blog. Your dedication to parenthood, being a wife, your great eye for design and now the arts is so amazing. I’m sure you feel like sometimes there is not enough time in your days, but from an outsider it’s amazing you are able to do as much as even the little glimpse we get from simply seleta. I hope you continue to share the ballet part of your life – it’s so lovely!

  18. wow – this is amazing. i didnt know you were a ballerina – so impressive. i love all of your talents.

  19. Janice says:

    Hi Seleta, How wonderful that you made the effort to begin ballet training at the school. The students are so lucky to have you. I attended ballet classes after school for a few years.. It would have been great if i could have replaced PE. Those few years instilled in me a love of dance and fitness for my whole life. I’m now over 60 and still take dance classes occasionally. It has been one of the joys of my life. I LOVE to dance and just signed up to learn West Coat Swing! After years of modern dance, jazz, NIA, ballet, etc; this will be my first partner dance class. I know it will be a blast. I am grateful to my mother for sending my sister and me to ballet lessons so long ago.
    Please tell us more about how you encountered dance in your life and how it is going. Can’t wait to hear all.

  20. Katie says:

    Seleta… You are so beautiful and talented! I wish you a fabulous and fun school year! Wish I lived closer to volunteer at the school… XoXo

  21. tricia says:

    I am just so excited to see a school that offers dance! I am a third grade teacher and have advocated for years that we should offer dance to our elementary aged students. Sir Ken Robinson speaks about this in his book Out of Our Minds- about encouraging children to find their passion and fuel creativity in learning. Dance is a wonderful way to do just that! Congratulations on your job! You are doing VERY important work : o )

  22. Seleta-
    what a beautiful dream that has come alive! All the best to you on your work!
    Michelle Zuniga

  23. Obviously I missed this post the first time around so a belated congratulations to you! It’s so inspiring to see what a dream and lifelong dedication can create. Big hugs to you my dear!

  24. Seleta says:

    Thank you for all of the kind words, everyone! : ) It’s a privilege to have this amazing opportunity to work with our Seaside Neighborhood School.


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    SeletaI‘m Seleta, a city girl living the beach life with my family. A former TV personality turned designer, I love to share the sparkly side of life. Read more here.
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