dance: jessica pendry

Bringing Dance to Schools


There were no dance teachers in the public schools in Yadkin County, North Carolina, where Jessica Pendry grew up. She studied dance at a local studio and loved it. But while a life in dance was calling her, she came from a family of school teachers and was determined to follow in their steps.

It was only in her junior year of high school that Jessica learned that it was possible to be both a dance teacher and a public school teacher—at the same time. When her studio teacher suggested that she major in dance education in college, Jessica recognized the perfect confluence of her passions.

She graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2010 and was immediately hired by the new Ridge Road Middle School in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Building the dance program there from the ground up, she soon established it as the most popular elective at the school, drawing large numbers of both girls and boys to her classes, where they learned that dance was not only a form of self-expression, but could also address contemporary issues in the world.

In 2017, Jessica moved to Mallard Creek High School to become the school’s first dance teacher. She already has 200 students—most of whom would never have had a single dance lesson, if it weren’t for her.

Jessica Pendry

Jessica Pendry