BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 21, 2009 – Billie Lepczyk, associate professor in Virginia Tech's School of Education's Learning Sciences and Technologies, was named the University Dance Educator of the Year by the National Dance Association (NDA).
The accolade marks the culmination of a yearlong selection process whereby Lepczyk also earned both the Virginia and the Southern District awards from the American Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
Lepczyk, who has been at Virginia Tech for 26 years, developed a creative dance course that is part of the university’s Curriculum for Liberal Education. “She’s able to create an atmosphere where students can flourish,” said Debra Knapp, a member of the NDA selection committee. In reviewing videos of Lepczyk’s teaching for the NDA award, Knapp noted, “She wasn’t teaching to students. She was sharing the teaching process with her students. And she was learning as she was teaching. I think that is the gift of being a teacher — you’re teaching because you are a learner, and you’re a student.”
Lepczyk, who is featured in the September issue of Dance Teacher Magazine , says she believes that creative dance has value in education beyond an aesthetic experience. Her research has shown that problem-solving activities used in movement analysis improve self-confidence, enhance teamwork skills, and foster respect for diversity.
Prior to university studies, Lepczyk had a dance career in Europe centered in Athens, Greece, where she performed on stage, television, and in motion pictures. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Honors College from Michigan State University, and Master of Arts degree in Dance Education and Ed.D. from Teachers College-Columbia University. She holds Dance Notation Bureau certifications as a Professional Notator, Laban Movement Analyst, and Labanotation Teacher.