Meet Heather Burnes
I grew up in Palatine, IL and have been dancing since I was three years old. I began teaching dance at 16 and have never stopped. I taught at Bonnie Lindholm School of Dance throughout high school and while attending Lake Forest College. I continued to teach dance at various studios and park districts while I earned a Master’s Degree in Education and taught a few years in the public schools. Having a background in education has helped me to become a better dance instructor. My teaching goals are to motivate my students to do their best, promote team spirit, and instill good communication skills.
I married Brian in 2012 and we have two children, Connor, six and Eleanor, three. We have a dog, Winston, a turtle, Speedy, a bearded dragon and fish. We live in Villa Park, which is half-way between both our jobs.
How did you come to teach for Mundelein Park & Recreation District?
After graduating from college, I worked for a year in an office environment. I discovered this was not for me, and I decided I wanted to teach dance full time while getting my Master’s. I was offered a job teaching at Mundelein Park & Recreation District in 2006. At the time I was also teaching classes at two other dance schools. Within a year, I was offered Mundelein’s Advanced Dance Company and eventually I became the Dance Coordinator.
What is a typical work week like?
I spend about 50% of my time planning, (schedules, choreography, recitals, competitions and performances). I spend the other 50% teaching classes. Right now I am preparing for this year’s long-term dance program, which begins in September, (registration begins August 7).
What changes have you seen to Mundelein Park & Recreation District’s Dance Program?
In the last 11 years, we have grown by leaps and bounds! We had two dance companies in 2006 and now have five dance companies (Petite, Junior, Intermediate, Senior and Advanced). In addition to the annual spring recital, we have performed at numerous locations including Mundelein Community Days, Six Flags Great America, Brookfield Zoo and Navy Pier. This year we applied to perform at the Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights. I also recently added a Winter Showcase.
Our program began competing with other dance schools and park districts in 2011. Our overall adjudications keep improving. In the past we would average a Gold place, now our dancers receive either High Gold or Platinum!
We have five dance teachers, three with a Master’s Degree in Education, and 10 class assistants.
This year we changed our name from Mundelein Dance to Mundelein School of Dance and introduced a new logo.
What do you see as the benefits to taking dance at Mundelein Park & Recreation District?
Mundelein School of Dance offers a high quality experience at an affordable price. Dance is a great way to boost confidence and help overcome shyness. It also teaches discipline and responsibility. We introduce fun with parties and social activities to build camaraderie. Our goal is to make each child feel good about their achievements in a low stress and nurturing environment.
What do you do to balance work and home life?
Having a flexible schedule really helps. I work between naps and school schedules and get a lot of my work done. I also bring my family with me. All four of us participated in this year’s Fourth of July parade. They had a blast! The kids really look forward to the recitals and competitions and sit patiently through the performances. Now that she is three, Eleanor dances in a class and occasionally Connor likes to jump in and participate in a class as well.
What do you like best about your job?
I really like when a child has an “aha” moment. It’s amazing to see that moment when they finally know how to do something that they have been struggling to master. I also enjoy watching all of the hard work develop into a wonderful performance. And finally, I enjoy watching the students grow up. Most of our dancers stay with the program throughout their high school years. Some continue to dance throughout college. One of our dancers achieved her a life-long dream– she now dances at Disneyland. I love having this dance family and I really do feel that I have the best job in the world!
Visit the Mundelein Park & Recreation District’s website for more information!
*This post is sponsored by Mundelein Park & Recreation District