The University Musical Society and DTE Energy Foundation awarded King’s own dance instructor Denise Allen the 2018 DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year award.
This award annually celebrates teachers’ excellence in arts education. Allen did not know she would receive the recognition and cried while accepting the this honor in an King’s auditorium packed with students, staff, and her mother.
“I was really in awe and very humbled,” Allen said. “At that moment, I felt like I did everything I wanted to do in dance as a dance teacher.”
Allen is a noted champion for the enrichment of the “A for Arts” in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). She runs one of the few performing arts programs that has remained within Detroit Public Schools Community District and has been instructoring at King for 10 years.
“It [the award] centered around my ability to motivate and promote the arts within the K-12 setting,” Allen said. “It’s really about what I’ve done with the dance community and dance education with my students.”
Allen says one of her great influences has been her own dance teacher, Debra White Hunt. Her influence led Allen in the direction of being an instructor.
“My dance teacher was a big influence in my life. She was my mentor. She taught me how to teach and made me want to teach others,” Allen said. “I started teaching dance when I was 10. I always enjoyed sharing my love of dance with others.”
Allen inspires her dancers to perform and pushes them to be better at what they do. Having an inspiration and someone to look up to is important for her students.
“I started dancing at King my freshman year and Mrs. Allen has had a great influence on my dance experience,” said senior and dance captain Jalissa Willis. “She pushes me to do better.”
Yael Rothfield of Thurston Elementary School in Ann Arbor also received the award.