Dance teacher inspires special-needs students, gets a High 5

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LAYTON -- A woman who used to run one of the largest dance studios in Davis County now uses her talents to help students with special needs. We honored her with a High 5 this week.

It takes a really special person, and she absolutely is.

–John Haning

Mrs. JoAnn Parker teaches special-needs students at Northridge High School in Layton. Her daughter, Alana Swenson, nominated her for the High 5.

"She has spent years and years helping these beautiful children and not only here at Northridge High, she's been involved in the community and church capacity. She's served and loved these children and taught them. She truly, truly loves these kids," she says.

The students love Mrs. Parker, too.

Bailee Hill says, "I like her a lot because she's great. I love her a lot."

One way that she connects with the children is using music and dance to help them express themselves.

Dance teacher inspires special-needs students, gets a High 5

John Haning is principal at Northridge. He says, "These are some of our best kids. We love having them in our school. She helps them to make them feel like some of our school community. She's just so great with them. It takes a really special person, and she absolutely is."

Mrs. Parker puts together an annual production at the school that gets the special-needs students singing, dancing and acting on stage. She also serves the special-needs youth in her church and started an extra-curricular music and dance class in Clearfield City for people with disabilities.

Mrs. Parker says, "Having had worked with the special-needs education system in the school district and my church calling, I thought it would be fun to start a little singing and dance program in the city. So we did that and it's just been really fun."

Her daughter says Mrs. Parker has credentials that would allow her to undertake other ventures that would bring her more recognition. But her love for the special-needs youth and the appreciation she feels from them keep her going strong.

If you would like to nominate someone for a High 5, click here.


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