Hope Hunter ’04 chose to attend Shenandoah University because she felt that it was the right environment for her to grow as an individual and an artist. She had previously attended high school dance day at Shenandoah as well as a performing arts camp, and that’s how she learned that the conservatory faculty were more than just teachers. She felt right at home.
“Shenandoah is a school that offers lots of opportunities through its unique connections but is small enough that it is a uniquely personal experience,” said Hunter. “ In many ways, you are able to experience the best of both worlds.”
While at Shenandoah, Hunter studied dance education which allowed her to build her own skills as a technician and an artist. Hunter feels forever indebted to Coordinator for Theatre & Dance Recruitment and Associate Professor of Dance Erica Helm, M.F.A., and former Adjunct Assistant Professor of Dance Robyn Schroth, M.A., for the example they provided with their involvement in the Virginia Department of Standards of Learning (SOL). Hunter eventually followed in their footsteps and has been on the revision committee for SOLs. She is also looking forward to serving on the revision committee for licensure criteria where she will help dance arts professionals seeking their licenses in Virginia.
Hunter works as the director of dance for Woodside High School and the Newport News Public Schools in Newport News, Virginia. In this position, Hunter facilitates the magnet dance program for the high school with a focus on ballet, modern, and jazz dance forms in five levels of technique as well as choreographic principles. While in the program, she and her students present a story ballet each year, which is a themed concert and a student choreography showcase. She is also the resident choreographer for Woodside’s theatre department, teaches dance three nights a week at Diggs School of Dance and choreographs for a non-profit youth ballet company, Bayside Youth Ballet.
Hunter began her teaching career in 2004, where she split her time between Huntington Middle School and Woodside High School, before moving to Woodside High School full-time. She taught art appreciation and dance classes, served as the fine and performing arts lead teacher for the school and was the head of youth development. Hunter also coached color guard from 2006-2012.
The most rewarding part of Hunter’s career is seeing students go on to pursue their passions as a career. She loves when students come back and say “what I wouldn’t give to go back to your class again. I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I didn’t have it anymore.”
Hunter’s Shenandoah education allowed her to develop her teaching style along with learning how to manage logistics like planning and presenting concerts.
Hunter’s advice to students is to “keep your eyes open, some of the best opportunities are ones you are not actively looking for and may go unnoticed if you’re not paying attention.”