Tammy Stanford, a 1991 graduate of the dance program at The University
of Southern Mississippi, was named the Thad Cochran Distinguished
Arts Educator in dance by the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education
(MAAE). The award was presented at an April 17 awards gala at Mississippi
College in Clinton.
With very few
dance programs in existence in Mississippi, Stanford was credited,
in large part, for being responsible for those that do exist today.
She was the first dance teacher to work at Nora Davis Magnet School
in Laurel and has taught middle and high school students in Petal
the other hand, credits her early childhood opportunities for her
desire to provide dance education to children. "My early classical
ballet training was provided via a scholarship from an endowment
made possible through the Mississippi Ballet Theatre in Jackson,"
she said. "From the age of eight, I enjoyed the luxury of six
to eight hours per week in extensive training from JoBee Best of
Chicago, at no financial expense to my parents."
This rare opportunity
instilled a desire to "always give to others what had freely
been given to me." For Stanford, dance in public education
seemed the quickest and most efficient route to do just that.
Each of her
teaching assignments included choreographing student performances,
working with guest artists, conducting teacher professional development,
and establishing various community partnerships. Stanford also has
conducted workshops across the state using a training manual she
wrote in cooperation with the Mississippi Department of Education.
gives credit for her strong public education philosophy to her university
mentor, Patricia Amacker McConnell, a recently retired professor
of dance at Southern Miss. McConnell received the MAAE's 2003 Higher
Education Award for her contributions to dance in Mississippi.
pioneered the way for dance and dance education in Mississippi,"
Stanford said. "The genius of her teaching lies in her ability
to communicate directly to the essence of the person and prepare
a safe avenue for the release of direct human expression."
her mentor, the first chair of the dance program at Southern Miss,
the "teacher of teachers."
In a statement
in the awards gala program, McConnell had the opportunity to reciprocate
in accolades. "Tammy has two fundamental elements to her teaching
philosophy that embody her career as a teacher: she thinks of the
students first, and she focuses on the needs of the individual."
an after-school classical dance program in Lamar County, Stanford,
of Sumrall, teaches classical ballet and modern dance classes for
Oak Grove and Sumrall students. The program is made possible through
the Links-to-Learning 21st Century, a community-based grant awarded
to Lamar County Public Schools.
a recipient of this most prestigious award is both fulfilling and
humbling," Stanford admitted. "Fulfilling because a lifetime
of work is validated by a most reputable group of arts professionals
and humbling because I feel I've simply returned a favor that was
done for me. I've 'passed it forward' as they say."
The MAAE, an
advocate for higher quality, comprehensive and sequential arts education
for all Mississippi students, awarded four Thad Cochran Distinguished
Educator awards, one in each arts disciplines-dance, music, theater,
and visual art.