Meet Our Instructors
Samantha Newman is the Dance Program Coordinator and Lead Instructor for the St. Charles Dance Academy. She coordinates and instructs in both our Recital and Company programs. Samantha has a bachelor's degree in Theatre Arts Studies from Brigham Young University with an emphasis on playwriting and costume and makeup design. Ms. Samantha grew up in a South suburb of Chicago and began dance training at age 3 in Ballet, Jazz and Tap, with a primary focus on Tap. Ms. Samantha has taught Tap, Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Creative Dance and Strength and Conditioning to children, teens and adults of all levels at studios in Utah and Illinois since 2005. She continues her dance education through Chicago area teacher workshops several times a year. Ms. Samantha is proud to bring to our program her enthusiasm and love for dance and performance, her background in theatrical production, and her years of experience in dance arts education to all ages and levels. She lives in St. Charles with her husband and two children.
Allison Cole is a graduate of St. Charles East High School and a current student at NIU, where she is studying Special Ed with an emphasis in visual impairment. Ms. Allison started dancing at a young age here at the St. Charles Dance Academy and competed with the Company Team. Ms. Allison has experience in musical theater, lyrical, ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop. Allison is also continually taking dance classes as part of her education. She is the fundraising chairperson for Delta Gamma Sorority at NIU and works for the Northern Star. Ms. Allison has been teaching with us for over 5 years and is well-loved by her students and parents! Allison is an integral part of our team and she enjoys sharing her passion for dance and education with her students.
Stephanie Cirillo comes to us with over 20 years of dancing and coaching experience. She holds a BS degree from Illinois State University in Marketing, with a minor in Dance Performance. Stephanie is trained in multiple styles including ballet, modern, jazz and hip hop. Professionally, she has been a member of dance teams including the Chicago Luvabulls, Schaumburg Flyers Dance Team, Chicago Storm Chasers, and McHenry County Pirates Dance team. Stephanie has coached and choreographed for cheer and dance teams for over 20 years including recreational leagues and high school teams; most recently she was the Head Dance Coach for Cheer Illinois Athletics and Illinois Knights Elite. She choreographed at Conant High school and was a dance coach and team member at Cheer Chicago All Stars. Stephanie lives in St. Charles with her husband and two children, and she is looking forward to sharing her experience with dancers in this, her home community. We are so excited to have her on our team!
Sheila O'Connor has been involved with Irish Dancing since she was 6 years old. She has been with the Weber School of Irish Dance from the beginning and will begin her 27th year as a teacher with them this Fall. Ms. Sheila frequently visits Ireland and has a deep love and knowledge of the art form and cultural history and significance of Irish dance. She is also a school teacher who works with elementary age students with learning disabilities. The Weber Dancers have been working with the St. Charles Park District for over 21 years, and Ms. Sheila is looking forward to another exciting year of dance.
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Jenna Jensen began dancing at Lisa's School of Dance in Bartlett when she was just 7 years old. She took classes in Ballet, Hip Hop, Jazz, and Tap, and eventually competed in both Hip Hop and Jazz. During her time as a student at South Elgin High School, she participated in all of the Spring Musical's including, Man of La Mancha, Peter Pan, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Anything Goes. Jenna graduated South Elgin and then attended Augustana College where she continued to dance. She participated in both the Augustana Dance Company and Augustana Vikettes Dance Team. She loved her years dancing at Augustana. She is currently a math teacher and dance team coach. She has led her previous dance team to the IHSA every year of competing. She loves choreographing routines for her team and continuing to take classes to better herself as a dancer.
Jessica Dirck teaches some of our early childhood dance classes. She is coming with 10 years of dance experience, which include a background in ballet, tap and modern dance. Jessica grew up in the Tri-Cities and graduated from NIU with a Bachelor's Degree in Special Education. She has taught for over 15 years as a Special Educator, with 7 of those years being in Early Childhood Education. Jessica has enjoyed working with youth in the community by coaching girls' high school track and field, Special Olympics teams, and being a Girl Scout troop leader. She currently lives in St. Charles with her husband and two daughters, who have been part of St. Charles Dance Academy for over 4 years.