Q&A With Alum Ronda Johnson
Spotlight Date:October 31, 2013
Ronda Johnson is a class of 2000 Alumni and has been a teacher in the Dreyfoos Dance Department for seven years. After graduating from Dreyfoos she went on to the prestigious Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. She works regularly with local dance companies, has been sponsor of both the Junior and Senior classes, is the parent of a Sophomore in the Music Department and she is even Chairman of the Dreyfoos School Advisory Council!
Q: How did you get involved in dance?
A: My parents said that I could never sit still. My mother who taught 2nd grade at the time had a student who had a sister (Beth Pozzo), who taught dance at a local studio in Wellington. At the age of four, I danced through the aisles in the grocery store, at all of the family gatherings, and even taught the girls in my neighborhood all that I learned in my classes. Although this was my first interaction with dance it was not until my mother took me to an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre performance that I truly became inspired to pursue dance.
Q: Favorite Dreyfoos (SOA) teacher?
A: Garry Q. Lewis was my favorite teacher in high school. I can honestly say that I would not be who I am without him. I struggled like many students in high school, but it was because of his support and encouragement as well as my family’s that I was able to go on to Ailey school and pursue my Master’s degree. It’s funny, because I am sure there are so many of us alumni who can agree that he had such a lasting impact on our lives. Much of how I teach and the success I have had with my own students here at Dreyfoos is because of Garry.
Q: Is there something Dreyfoos (SOA) could have provided that could have better prepared you for your college and career?
A: During my time at Dreyfoos, I feel as though I could have benefited from some of the amenities that are currently offered to the students. Today, our students are presented with the opportunity to work with prestigious guest choreographers to enhance their training, an experience that wasn’t offered during my high school tenure.
Q: What made you choose to come back and teach at Dreyfoos?
A: Ironically, I received a phone call from Kathy Higgins my former Jazz teacher from DSOA. She asked if I was interested in a position as a dance instructor, but I was unsure at the time. I was already teaching modern dance to many Dreyfoos students at Ballet Florida. But then I decided to interview for the job, I taught a few master classes and was offered the position. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Q: How have you continued your dance education?
A: Since high school I have trained at the Ailey School, performed with many local companies such as The Jubilee Dance Theatre and Reach Dance Theater Collective.
Q: What is it like teaching here at Dreyfoos?
A: Teaching at Dreyfoos is very rewarding. The school has grown so much and the possibilities are endless for the students. The kids are so motivated and are truly a joy to teach. I have had the pleasure of teaching in the dance department here for 7 years and have met some amazing people and inspiring artists because of this opportunity.
Q: What do you feel has been the highlight of your career so far?
A: The highlight of my career thus far has been the completion of my Master’s in Educational Leadership. I have worked with some of the best administrators in the district and I have taken a little from each to draw inspiration from. Teaching dance in a public high school has given me an opportunity to expand my perspective on all aspects of education. I have sponsored both Junior and Senior classes which have been so rewarding. In addition, I have worked on professional leadership teams within the school such as Professional Development team and currently serve as SAC Chair. I am really lucky to work with such a great team who accepts and supports me.
Q: Have you had the opportunity to work with other Dreyfoos (SOA) alums?
A: I have had the opportunity to work with fellow alum Maria Konrad as a dancer in her company, REACH- A Dance Theater Collective.
Q: What recommendations do you have for our current DSOA students?
A: Be all that you can be. The effort you put into your studies and your art now will pay off in the long run.
Q: In a brief statement can you explain “What Dreyfoos means to me”?
A: Dreyfoos is a magical place. It’s the only place that encourages students to truly be themselves and to aspire to be more than they ever thought they could be.
Do you know an alumnus who deserves to be in the Spotlight? Email the Foundation.