Founder + Executive Director
Most of my life’s fondest memories happened on a wood grain floor, dancing my heart out. My dance studio was my favorite place to be. It brought a joy to my life that nothing else could. One day, on the way home from dance, when I was around the age of 13, I remember asking my mom why there weren’t any dance studios for people with special needs. My mom replied, “I don’t know. Maybe you will open one some day.”
Fast-forward seven years. I’m now in my senior year at the University of Southern Mississippi, studying dance education. As a part of my capstone course, I was required to give a presentation on anything related to dance. I began brainstorming for a unique concept and the idea resurfaced. I decided to give the presentation on the benefits that dance has for people with Down syndrome. After the presentation, I remember one of my professors saying, “You should start a program like that.” And I thought, “Maybe I will some day.”
By 2018, I had built a career in the dance and the fitness world. A career that I felt proud of… but there was still something missing from my life. Again, the idea to create a program for people with special needs resurfaced. But this time, I listened.
I began searching for similar programs and found that options were limited. I researched and researched and researched. I contacted person after person. I went on countless coffee dates with strangers. Basically, if you had any connection to a person with special needs and you were willing to talk to me, it happened. I found that people were so willing to help! They wanted to see my dream become a reality because they believed just as much as I did that the world needed this program. The world needs MOVE.
Growing up, I always had the desire and passion to move my body. Whether there was music in the background or me singing, I was constantly dancing or putting on a performance. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I thought about making a career of it.
In 2013, I received my dance education degree and began teaching at a high school where I was able to connect, teach, and grow young teenagers with not only techniques of how to move his/her body, but with life lessons using their bodies. This is where my heart and love for teaching special education began.
I had an inclusion class that had multiple students with various disabilities - Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, and multiple disabilities - all of which were nonverbal. I professionally and personally grew in ways that I could not have ever dreamed of and adjusted my teaching to fit the needs of my students. I was inspired and determined to connect my dance background with special education.
I went on to receive my masters in special education in 2016 and began my journey of working in the school system of teaching elementary students with disabilities academics and life skills while still designing ways to have my students moving their bodies to connect curriculum. While navigating and adjusting to this new role, I found value to what I was doing and wanted to push myself further in my career and became Nationally Board Certified in Exceptional Needs. Personally and professionally, I am able to do what I love and continue to seek how I can make the world a better place through my craft.
Board of Directors
Troy Woolley, President
Megan Jayroe, Vice President
Morgan Ivey, Treasurer
Amber Johnson, Secretary
Junior Advisory Board
Morgan Claiborne, Co-chair
Nikki Junewicz, Co-chair
Philip Burke, Treasurer
Alyssa Lechtanski, Secretary