Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Dawn A. Mottinger April 19, 1956 - Jan. 17, 2017 Ballerina, Advocate for Education

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Dawn A. Mottinger April 19, 1956 - Jan. 17, 2017 Ballerina, Advocate for Education

Article excerpt

When one of Dawn A. Mottinger's three children was being treated differently in school, Mrs. Mottinger went from ballerina to bulldog.

As a girl, she had been notable for the grace that got her on stage with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the Boston Ballet and for a stint with the New York City Center Ballet under legendary choreographer George Balanchine.

Her experience as a mother of three led to involvement with a task force on special education, which pushed for more vigorous efforts to teach kids with special challenges in mainstream environments, for which she advocated and testified in Harrisburg.

"She found out the laws," said Sandy Scholze, Mrs. Mottinger's friend for 34 years. "She really took [school administrators] to task and made them do what they were supposed to be doing."

Mrs. Mottinger died Tuesday of cardiopulmonary disease. She was 60 and lived in Franklin Park.

Raised in the suburbs of Boston and the child of a salesman, the young Dawn Gwinn was a little bit pigeon-toed, her daughter, Carrie Burdy, recounted. Dawn Gwinn's parents hoped some time in a dance studio might help to address that.

The teacher there, though, realized that ballet training could do much more than that for the girl.

Referred to the Boston Ballet, she made a splash at the Saratoga Dance Festival one summer in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and was selected at age 10 to dance as a soloist under Mr. Balanchine. A dance scholarship later led her to what is now Point Park University and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

That's when she met a Point Park theater major, John Mottinger. She eventually opted to start a family rather than focusing on dance, and they settled in Franklin Park in the North Allegheny School District.

While her husband worked for Reznor Heaters, Mrs. Mottinger joined an effort that would change the educational landscape for thousands of local students.

"When you have three kids going through a school district - all three of them graduated from North Allegheny - you're involved in your kids education, and Dawn was very, very involved," Mr. …

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