Back to the Barre

Seasons Come & Seasons Go

When I lived in San Antonio, I enjoyed running my own classical ballet training program where I got to work with accomplished students, dedicated teachers & even some professionals. However, when we moved back to Central Texas, I hung up my pointe shoes - not knowing if I’d ever teach again. Not knowing if I’d even ever WANT to teach again. Divorce changes every singe part of your life & I wanted to give myself time to get through that process.

This past Spring I did a little bit of substitute teaching at Newcomb School of Ballet, where I grew up dancing as a student. I taught a few classes here and there, and even took a class or two. That was all it took for me to get the teaching bug! I’m super excited to announce I’ll be teaching an Adult Beginner Ballet class this next year at Newcomb School of Ballet. I am so grateful for this opportunity to dive back into my first love!

Back to the Barre

Renee Gillenwater Newcomb School of Ballet

At the front is Renee, and three heads back…that’s me! Photo Credit: Temple Daily Telegram

I grew up dancing under Ms. Newcomb and remember the days when Renee was just starting to take over teaching duties. I remember struggling to keep up alongside her as she took us through the barre, center floor work & complicated combinations. She was an accomplished dancer whom we all looked up to & idolized. She’s now an accomplished teacher & I’m excited to join ranks – Newcomb Girls Stick Together! 

It’s time for me to get back to the barre. I need to force myself to get out of my hermit crab shell that I’ve lived in for the last 3 post-divorce years & start pushing myself out into the community I plan to stick around in for a long time.

A Technique or Two Won’T Hurt You

Classical Ballet has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. While I never advanced as a professional performer, I did formalize my teacher credentials with the Cecchetti Council of America, where I am currently ranked as an Associate Member. (I have completed up to my Professional Elementary level of work as codified by the International Society for Teachers of Dancing.)

While the Newcomb School of Ballet is built upon the Vaganova method, the two techniques are very complimentary of one another – so much so that I consider them “sister techniques.” (But more on this in a future blog post.) My firm foundation in classical ballet, passed on to me from Ms. Newcomb’s training, actually allowed me to progress through the CCA’s teacher training program as successfully as I did.

Join Me at the Barre!

If you’d like to join me once a week for an Adult Ballet, you can register online! Class is on Thursday nights from 630-815pm. We’ll be covering a full spectrum curriculum along with stretching/conditioning to help develop strength & flexibility. Pointe shoes not required (nor allowed – please – we’re not even going there!)

Attn Women: You Don’t Gotta Try So Hard!

For all the girls and women in my life:

  • the tweens and teens trying to figure it all out while chasing the freedom of adult life,
  • the 20-somethings riding the high of youth who think their moms’ advice is ridiculously dated,
  • the 30-somethings juggling it all, wondering why they did this to themselves, thinking they should have listened to their mothers,
  • the 40-somethings who are finally learning to breathe,
  • the 50-somethings who are learning to give themselves grace,
  • the 60-somethings who are wondering if their daughters will be OK when they have passed,
  • the 70-somethings who are still young enough to know that everyone else is wasting so much energy, but old enough to know there’s no point in arguing with them all,
  • the 80-somethings sitting on the park bench watching the toddlers and wondering if those little girls on the playground will ever know…
  • the cancer survivors…who are so beautiful…and are elevated above all,
  • the working mom who puts on the face every day,
  • the stay at home mom who wonders “why bother…”

And all the men who love and support us. Dads included.

THIS SONG IS the epitome of what it means to be a woman in the 21st Century: the unashamed, unapologetic, self-acceptance of the female.


She’s been forewarned.


Exciting STAAR Test Feedback From Texas School Districts

Parents Push Back Against STAAR Tests…

Parents are pushing back against STAAR Tests, kids are strung out, teachers are exasperated…….and School Districts are responding.While I disagree with the attention-seeking actions some parents have taken in their quest to shelter their children from what some parents think are horrible injustices their children are subjected to (note my utter snark), perhaps some of that public fit-throwing has some benefits. (Though I assure you, I won’t give anyone who causes a huge stupid scene any kind of pat on the back…but I’ve digressed.) As a parent whose 3rd grade daughter had a pretty strong physical reaction to the stress she was managing during March and April (heavy testing months in Texas for 3rd graders) I TOTALLY get the need for some reform. So does my pocket-book – all the Dr appts she had during March/April were pretty $$$ but necessary to help manage her stress-related upper GI issues. Oh, the joy of parenting children through the public school experience. (In other words, we didn’t deal with GI Dr’s when we were home schooling… just saying….and… I’ve digressed again.) But, Texas school parents, it looks like there is a bit of a change on the horizon. As school districts take the step forward to advocate for their students, parents and teachers, things WILL change. I do believe it is ultimately the PARENTS responsibility to drive this change, but it certainly can’t hurt when your local Superintendent has your back!

Paris ISD Minimizes Importance of STAAR

Paul Jones responds to STAAR testing

Paul Jones, Superintendent Paris ISD

Paul Jones, Superintendent of Paris ISD, published the following update with regards to the STAAR Test Results on the district website just this past week, and the bullet points cannot go without a huge blog-applause from me!

  • These results [are] not the end-all of your child’s learning for the year. 
  • These assessments … reflect a punitive; one size fits all test-driven system. 
  • Our students are much more than a once-a-year pencil and bubble sheet test.
  • Your child means immeasurably more than just a number generated in Austin.
  • We all know students do not master skills at the same rate; each individual child has their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Many of our students play sports, play musical instruments, dance, sing, speak multiple languages, write and perform poetry or songs, and create amazing works of art.
  • We have students working multiple jobs at night to help support their family.
  • Many of our students are the main caregivers for younger siblings late into the evening hours
  • Our classrooms are reflective of a multi-faceted student involved in a wide variety of activities, both academic and extra-curricular. It is not just drill and kill for one test.….(STAAR)…. assesses how your child performs on a single day…
  • Unfortunately, bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. and Austin have designed a one-size-fits-all assessment system that doesn’t necessarily reflect your individual child’s growth and achievements. 
  • Our students, not the state assessment, will be our main focus and top priority.
  • So…let’s not let the STAAR test overshadow what is truly important–each individual child.
  • Let us not forget to celebrate the vast and numerous accomplishments and successes the students of PISD have achieved this school year. It has been a great one!

I cannot express how excited I was to read the following statements from Paris ISD (north of Dallas.) Honestly the whole post is so awesome, it was really hard to NOT just repost all the content here!

Hudson ISD Posts Message About the STAAR Test

Hudson ISD STAAR Test

Mary Ann Whiteker, Superintendent, Hudson ISD

Mary Ann Whiteker, Superintendent at Hudson ISD, released the following statement  which is also worthy of a blog-applause!

  • Two years ago, Hudson ISD began a new journey with a focus on quality learning rather than a test driven system (STAAR test) that is demoralizing to students and staff. (emphasis mine)
  • Our students are more than one test.
  • Their achievements must be determined by a multitude of accomplishments  throughout the year, celebrating academic growth as well as mastery of skills,  co-curricular and extra-curricular accolades, experiencing new opportunities/challenges.
  • Hudson ISD…was built on recognizing the value of each child, nurturing the natural gifts each child brings to school, discovering and developing creativity and curiosity, preparing students for life-long learning.
  • Thanks to the support of the Hudson ISD Board of Trustees and Staff, the district has rediscovered the “science and art” of teaching and learning.
  • Our classrooms are reflecting quality student and teacher engagement, not drill and kill for one test.
  • Hudson ISD will use the [STAAR Test] assessment data [as] a diagnostic instrument for identifying areas for intervention…(and)…enrichment.
  • Individual student data will be aligned with local assessment data to develop educational plans that insure continued progress for our students.
  • Our children, not the state assessment, will be our top priority. Instruction will focus on preparing all students for success in a 21st century global economy.

Is STAAR Test Change Coming For Texas School Parents, Students & Teachers?

If you read each statement in its entirety, you’ll notice glaring similarities with key phrases. This makes me wonder … is there some kind of shift about to happen with Texas school districts?  Will there be more of a push back from districts? Will we start to see a return to true academics, learning, and advancement in the classrooms? Maybe the landscape is starting to change. My high schooler has less state testing requirements than my 3rd grader; I’d like to see the testing schedule for elementary students reduced to allow more time for teaching, more time for learning, and more time for the development of the whole child. We can always hope!


What to Do if You Don’T Want Your Kid to Take the STAAR Test Next Year

This Featured Article from the Texas C-Scope Review  site is chock-full of great info for steps you can take to keep your kid out of the testing room.

STAAR Opt Out Notice

  Many thanks to Alizon Duckwall from C&D Editing for the heads up on this topic! (Also, if you need a professional editor that’s my go-to reference!)

WordPress Job Listings From WordCamp Miami 2014

WordCamps are a great place to find work within the WordPress economy. Aside from the obvious benefit of being able to introduce yourself directly to some of the larger WordPress agency owners, there is almost always a “Looking For Talent” whiteboard where companies can jot down their information and attendees can follow up with during at the camp or afterwards.

David Bisset, one of the organizers for WordCamp Miami, was kind enough to tweet this awesome picture.

If you weren’t able to make it to WordCamp Miami and you are looking for WordPress work, dig into the links below! I’ve broken out as much as I could from the white board and have listed it all here for you! Note: this is not EVERYTHING on that board – I couldn’t make out the business card information. If you were at WordCamp Miami and you want to add job opportunity information that I haven’t included, please drop the information in the comments below and I’ll update the post if/when that info arrives. I have vetted everything below and have included as much basic info as possible. Serious linkage below!

Companies / Individuals Hiring WordPress Talent

BackOffice Associates

  • Wide range of listings.
  • Worldwide locations.
  • No idea if remote work or not.

@Aysha Marie Zouain from Blackened Honesty

  • WordPress Web Designer to help roll out a new site for
  • This is a **Miami Only** position.
  • You can contact Aysha here.

Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists

  • No details listed on job board. First glance of their site… hopefully they’re looking to update the whole thing! :)
  • There are a lot of jobs posted on their Careers Section.
  • I also asked them, via Twitter, for more information.
  • Will update if / when more info is communicated.

@Jackie Jimenez with @InnovateWP

  • WordPress Developers and Designers
  • Contact her here:

@Jason Ibarra with SherlockTech Staffing

  • Jason recruits for Sherlock Tech Staffing
  • He is also very active in the WordPress Community
  • They are looking for WordPress Designers and Developers
  • Contact Jason via work email:
  • Twitter: Hiring WP Talent is @jasonibarra

@Lightmaker is a digital agency, looking for Talented WordPressers with offices in Florida, California and the UK.


+Laura Raymond with @DestinationCuisine

  • Looking for help with WordPress Development, Themes and BuddyPress
  • Check out their website:
  • Contact Laura via the Contact Form at the bottom of her About Page:

  • Based in Orlando
  • Looking for a local WordPress Dev
  • Somewhat dead Twitter and Google Plus account
  • Check out their Facebook Page for up to date info on company happenings
  • Connect with David Parsons via Twitter or email to:

  • Active Facebook Page
  • Run by Andre Buchanan in Miami, FL.
  • No other info available.
  • Contact via

@Impulse Creative looks like a really cool inbound marketing agency!

  • Hiring a UI/UX Developer w/WordPress Experience
  • Looking for developers with WP / PHP / HTML / CSS experience.
  • Looking for other unpaid positions via internships. I think this is a horrible practice and I’m not going to link to the postings, but you can peruse yourself if you’d like. Personally, I think companies should pay for the work they get out of interns. :)

@SouthernWeb located in Atlanta, looking to fill a few key positions:


WordPress Based Agencies / Companies Looking for WordPress Professionals  Themes and Plugins for WordPress, BuddyPress and bbPress

@Delicious Brains is a small WordPress agency run by some top notch developers.

@Human Made Limited is a WordPress VIP Agency based in the UK 100%

  • Support remote employees
  • Well respected within the WordPress Community
  • Small agency leaving a big impact.
  • Has one of the coolest URL’s I’ve seen!!
  • Recently hired for the following positions:
  • If you love WordPress, want to work remote, and want to work with a small agency  - check out their hiring page & drop them a note:
  • Also – don’t you just LOVE the URL structures?!  I’m totally excited by them!!  #nerdalert

@WPEngine : If you don’t know…. one of the most well-trusted WordPress Hosting Companies out there!

@Sucuri  specializes in WordPress / Website Security

@CrowdFavorite is a another really awesome WordPress Agency.

@Maintainn is yet another really cool WordPress Agency!

@ModernTribeInc  is a top notch WordPress Agency. They are looking for: