Congratulations to the Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education Danceline, which is now celebrating its 25th birthday.
The good things brought about by that danceline are incalculable. Thousands of girls not only enjoyed dancing but they also learned confidence, self-esteem and poise while having fun. Their parents and relatives who packed the bleachers for each show also enjoyed the memorable dance numbers. It is – and always has been – one of the most successful programs in the Sartell-St. Stephen School District.
And we can all thank the danceline’s director and instructor Shelly Teff for that. She is the one who started the danceline 25 years ago when her daughter, Missy, was in second grade. Dancing, Teff figured, would give Missy and her young friends something special to do. And the dancing has been non-stop from that point forward.
Teff has been a mentor, an inspiration, a pillar of moral support and a fun friend – not just to the dancing girls but to their parents as well. She has gone the extra mile time and again to make sure all her dancers, no matter what their skill levels, feel comfortable in the dance groups and have a lot of fun. Many shy, withdrawn, introverted girls have bloomed like flowers because of Teff’s love and kindness for the children. She has always given one-on-one attention to every dancer, and parents have been amazed by her miracle-working ways.
Long ago, Teff, who was raised in Foley, wanted to be a teacher because she loved being around children. That goal didn’t pan out. But her dance teaching has fulfilled that goal –and then some. For 25 years, she has been allowed to do what she loves to do – work with children.
Teff’s extraordinary dedication to the girls in her dance classes and her hard work as organizer, choreographer and teacher show her dance-teaching is far more than a job. It’s a deep and abiding passion. Her daughter, Missy, and her assistant instructors also deserve credit for the ongoing success of the dance program because they all share Teff’s personal dedication to the program and its dancers.
Each year, there is an average of 120 girls in the dance program, ages 4 up to 18. The amount of work to practice and rehearse for the shows is staggering, but Teff and her assistants make it all look “easy,” year after year.
Teff has been telling people, “I got old in the gym” because she has spent so much of her life dancing with children in the gym. But anybody who knows Teff knows she is anything but “old.” She is, in fact, still energetic, still bursting with creative ideas and still brimming with a sense of fun. We can easily predict Teff will be teaching and inspiring for a long time to come – perhaps even another 25 years.