Cedar Ridge High School Lead Dance Teacher Karen Searles has been named Dance Educator of the Year by the Texas Dance Educator’s Association (TDEA).

TDEA is a professional organization that allows dance educators the opportunity for staff development and networking. It provides professional development and work towards the betterment of dance education and help teachers provide quality dance education throughout Texas.

A dance educator for over ten years, Searles has been with Cedar Ridge since the school opened in 2010. Searles was nominated for the award by her peers. The application process involved the submission of a lesson plan, a video of the lesson plan in action and a personal statement of her professional accomplishments. She worked with the Cedar Ridge Jazz 4 class to create the lesson plan and video.

Searles is a strong advocate for dance education and sponsors the organization Texas Future Dance Educators. The group works with individuals who show career interest as dance educators. Started as a small district chapter, it has been adapted by the TDEA and will soon open up to other areas around the state.

Since her first assistant dance teaching role at the age of 13, Searles is committed to the role of dance educator.

“I’ve been blessed to stay in that comfortable spot,” Searles said. “My biggest dedication is towards just dance education. I’ve been able to dedicate myself to the dance classroom and what that can be”.

Searles is heavily involved with the TDEA and serves on the Board of TDEA as fourth vice president in charge of dance assessment throughout the state. She oversees Dance Educators Assessment of Learning (DEAL). The group helps to educate in-classroom teachers, identifies successful programs and helps those that are struggling.

The dance program at Cedar Ridge is a school point of pride, said Cedar Ridge Principal Lynette Thomas.

“Karen’s passion for dance instruction is reflected in her students’ hard work and enjoyment of dance,” Thomas said. “The entire Cedar Ridge community is proud of her accomplishment as 2016 TDEA Dance Educator of the Year.”

Searles will receive her award and represent Round Rock ISD and Cedar Ridge at the TDEA statewide convention in January.