By: Tracey Wozny
This story begins in tiny rural Missouri, off the beaten path, at Shapes Dance and Acro Studio—the studio where I’ve been the owner and director for over 25 years. It’s where I’ve proudly taught dance, tumbling, acrobatics, and more to thousands of kids and teens! It’s also where I developed a passion for teaching my students how to achieve their ambitions through experiences, opportunities, discipline, and strength of character.
In this small-town community, a typical high school senior class sends less than 40% of its graduates to college. Many settle for less than their full potential because they haven’t known anything different in their lives; they simply stay in their comfort zones. And so it became my personal mission to positively impact our students at SDA so that they would not fall into this statistic. With that in mind, I began teaching the fundamentals of what is now Taking Shape’s STAR Leadership curriculum, offering class discussions about topics like being kind, building resilience, having a great work ethic, and living a life of gratitude.
Over time, our students evolved into true leaders at their schools and in the community, proving themselves stronger and smarter than they ever thought before. I’m humbled to say that with this mindset shift, 90% of our students go on to college after high school. And I’ve now seen the evidence that our efforts to change young lives are working!