Davidson teacher dancing with joy

Careers in dance made wanderers of Tammy and Benji Westafer.


The couple has lived at places including Phoenix; Charlotte, N.C.; Gainesville, Ga.; and Asheville, N.C., but when their daughter, Tess, was born four years ago, Mrs. Westafer said, home began calling to them.

"We missed our family and friends," said Mrs. Westafer, a Jackson native and a graduate of Silver Bluff High School.

Mrs. Westafer studied ballet pedagogy at Brenau University in Gainesville, Ga., and started teaching at John S. Davidson Fine Arts School in 1993; however, she thought it was too soon for her to settle into that career.

"I really wasn't ready to be a full-time teacher. I still wanted to dance professionally," she said.

During her dance career, she performed with several groups, including the Augusta Ballet, the Moving Poets in Charlotte, the North Carolina Dance Theatre and the Center Dance Ensemble in Phoenix.

Before moving to North Augusta, the couple lived in North Carolina, where Mrs. Westafer taught dance in a high school. On a whim, she called Renee Toole, the chairwoman of the fine arts department at Davidson, who told Mrs. Westafer the school had an opening for a ballet teacher.

It wasn't long before the Westafers moved back home. She resumed her career at Davidson in the fall of 2006.

The second time around is the charm for Mrs. Westafer.

"What's there not to like? The kids are so disciplined. They are in there because they want to be," she said. "Most of them have a lot of interest in dance."

Mrs. Westafer also teaches at the Augusta Ballet School and recently began teaching in Jackson.

"I wanted to stay involved in dance," she said.

Reach Charmain Brackett at charmain.brackett@augustachronicle.com.


HOME: North Augusta

SCHOOL: John S. Davidson Fine Arts School


SUBJECTS TAUGHT: Ballet and modern dance

HOW MANY YEARS AS A TEACHER: Seven in the public school system

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT TEACHING: Mrs. Westafer said she wanted to continue to be a part of dance even though she no longer danced professionally.

To nominate an educator for Teacher of the Month, go to augustachronicle.com/communitycounts or contact Charmain Brackett at charmain.brackett@augustachronicle.com.


Community Counts is The Augusta Chronicle's collaborative effort to benefit the communities in our area. This multitiered program of involvement includes contests, events, sponsorships and recognition of outstanding youths, teachers, volunteers and public servants in the Augusta area. Nomination forms are available online at augustachronicle.com/communitycounts.