Seagoville dance teacher leads by example and advocates for students
Students, colleagues and community members at Seagoville High School are proud of the accomplishments of Charque Chenard, a drill team director and dance teacher at the school. Most recently, Chenard was one of six Dallas ISD dance educators who were literally in the spotlight when they were paired up with local celebrities in a dancing challenge.
The Dancing-with-the-Stars-like competition and showcase was part of the Dallas Education Foundation’s annual gala, “HeART of Teaching: Dancing with the Stars,” which raises funds that benefit district initiatives and students.
Charque was paired up with Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who she says stepped up to the challenge and was a joy to work with. To watch a video of Charque and some of the dance educators who participated, click on this link.
According to Charque, participating in the gala and working with Judge Jenkins allowed her to not only work with one of the top leaders in the county, but also to do one of her favorite aspects of her job: choreographing and creating. So when she got chosen along with the other educators to participate, she embraced the challenge.
Through this type of work, she is teaching her students to seize opportunities and challenges. She is leading by example.
“I showed my students that even though I’m their teacher, I’m out here advocating for arts education and still moving and doing things as a professional dancer,” Charque said.
Chenard has been teaching at Seagoville High School for the past two years, and previously taught for six years at Seagoville Middle School. She said it was her students who made the transition easier, as her former middle school students who were now in high school, took on leadership roles, helping new students adjust to the rules and expectations of her dance classes.
She not only teaches them different dance genres, such as modern, contemporary, and ballet, she also teaches them skills that will help them be successful in their high school and college careers. She tries to show her students the connections between the lessons that they learn in dance and the lessons that they use in life. Being professional in dance and in life is something they talk a lot about in her classroom, she said Chenard.
“I tell them to listen to these lessons for life—lessons about being responsible, committing to something, showing up on time, and so on,” Charque said. “I help them connect the dots between what my expectations for them are and how that could play out in their everyday life once they leave my classroom.”
Last school year, Charque took her students to visit her college and showed them her old stamping grounds at Texas Woman’s University so they could see where she trained to be a professional dancer and to be their teacher.
“I try to really just lead by example and show them every day the effects that the arts have had on me,” she said.
It was when she was a student at David W. Carter High School, where she was co-captain of her dance team, that she found her calling to pursue dance as a profession. But it wasn’t until she was studying dance at TWU that her dean suggested she become a dance educator, because not only would she be fulfilling her passion, but would also add to the diversity that was needed in this field. Students need to see teachers that look like them, said Charque.
“To see a teacher of color that the students can relate to, I think it impacts them in a major way,” Charque said.
Even after receiving feedback from community members who considered dance as a hobby and not a profession, she received support from her grandmother throughout her journey to become a professional dancer and dance educator.
“I remember having so many conversations with her, and it was interesting to see everything come to fruition—to see everything unfold for her,” Chenard said. “I want my students to see that everything is possible.”
Charque says that not all of her students are interested in dance or in becoming performers, but she keeps them informed about the different opportunities available in the dance field other than being a dancer, such as technical designers that work on lighting, sets, costumes, sound engineers, stage managers, and many other careers in dance and the performing arts.
One of her favorite things about being a dance educator is the connections she makes with her students, and getting to make a difference on a personal level. Several of her former students who are in college reach out to her, and she still calls them to see how they’re doing.
Whether her students pursue dance or any related field or not she says the work that her students put in her class pushes them mentally and physically, and these experiences help them grow and prepare for future opportunities.
To learn more about the Dallas Education Foundation event, visit dallasedfound.org/heart-of-teaching-2023.