Byline: Christie Hart Daily Herald Staff Writer
Georgia Salerno remembers the first time she saw professional dancers perform. It changed her life.
She was in junior high school and a modern dance troupe performed at an assembly.
"I'd never experienced anything like it before," Salerno said. "I decided I wanted to be a dancer and I went home and just begged my parents to let me take lessons."
It took her a while to persuade her parents she was serious. Her dad even told her she was too awkward to be a dancer.
Maybe that just made her more determined. Salerno took lessons for years and now teaches dance in gym classes at Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora. The Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance has named her Dance Teacher of the Year.
"I feel like it's my mission to expose kids to dance," Salerno said. "So that at school, at least, they can get a taste for it and an appreciation of dance that can last them their whole lives."
Salerno moved from Ohio to Illinois in 1985 to have the chance to teach dance in school, she said. Because Illinois requires students to take physical education classes through high school, schools here offer students more options, she said.
She started teaching at Waubonsie Valley right away and, except for a hiatus to earn a master's degree, has been there ever since. …