Dawn Schultz Named Dance Ed. Teacher of the Year

Dawn Schultz, an adjunct professor in the Department of Health and Physical Education, was awarded the 2024 Dance Education Teacher of the Year by the New Jersey Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (NJAHPERD).

“I knew I had been nominated for Teacher of the Year, but I wasn’t aware I won the award until the beginning of February,” began Schultz.

Schultz’s dancing background goes back to when she started dancing in the first grade at Dance World Academy in Clifton, NJ. When she moved to Rahway in the third grade, she had to switch academies, moving to the Studio B Dance Academy. She continued dancing even in college.

“In college, I danced with the Kean Dance Theatre under the direction of Luis Martinez. I graduated from Kean [University] with a bachelor’s in special education in 1999. After graduation, I moved to Los Angeles and taught dance at Santa Monica Dance Studio for four years. I then spent a year in Hawaii before returning to New Jersey. I received my NJ Dance teaching certificate from my years of experience in the industry before returning to college for coursework for my Health and Physical Education degree,” she explained.

Schultz went into more detail regarding her schooling.

“In 2018, I was accepted to Jacksonville University’s MFA in Choreography program and awarded my degree in 2020. In October 2020, I started a PhD program at Liverpool John Moores University. My research focuses on the cross-disciplinary practice of merging visual art and choreography,” she explained.

Bella Campo a sophomore double major in theatre and communications, and senator of the dance extensions at Rowan University, said, “Dawn is constantly learning from her own personal research, from experts in the field and even her students. She always strives to push the kids to develop their best abilities while still fueling their passion for dancing. Between being a wife, the mom of her two kids, a full-time dance teacher, the head of many dance film festivals, and in the final semester of getting her PhD, she is such a hard worker who excels in so many areas of her life.”

Campo explained how Schultz is very tolerant and considerate when she works with others and how Schultz respects how every dancer is at a different level in their career and has their own personal values.
“Her research work is explorative and improvisational which is able to be shaped to the body and talent of each dancer while still having them strive to improve,” Campo emphasized.

Campo explained how Schultz’s research in dance is meant to break the binary standard between modern dance and ballet classical movement. In Schultz’s work, she uses fine art such as abstract art to create new uncodified movements.

“Through a set of explorative improvisational scores, the choreography is set. Dawn then likes to make a dance reel from each project to express a new passion that she has found through her work with dance which is creating dance films. I have been lucky enough to be one of the dancers to work with her in her doctoral research study and her dance company “Movement Exploration Lab” accompanying Dawn on many of these projects and more in the future,” Campo said.

Schultz feels very honored that she was named dance teacher of the year by the NJAHPERD. Schultz received the award on Feb. 26, 2024, at the NJAHPERD conference in Westin Princeton.

Schultz concluded, “I believe dance is our birthright! We are all dancers! Dance is happening everywhere we look. We need to tap into the essence of movement to experience the dance of life.”