Monday, June 4, 2012

Heartfelt thank you to Melissa Stafford

Melissa Stafford receives a going away gift from the ballet department
at the 2012 Spotlight Awards.
Congratulations to Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet ballet principal Melissa Stafford.
Melissa was recently appointed department chair at Peabody Dance, a division of John Hopkins University, in Baltimore, MD.
Melissa joined the Conservatory six years ago, before there was a formal ballet program here. We had about 80 students taking an assortment of dance classes from preschool to hip hop and ballet.
Along with Peter Stark, Melissa helped establish our formal ballet curriculum for students to grow with the program, and our dance department grew exponentially.
“Now we have more than 300 students in the ballet program...We surpassed our projections every year,” said Melissa.

More than being an exceptional administrator and dance instructor, she's been a friend.

“The students and the parents and staff [of the Patel Conservatory] have become our surrogate family,” said Melissa.

"Melissa has been a wonderful mentor to me," said dance administrative supervisor Ashley Hilton. "I am so grateful to have worked with her the past six years.  She will be missed and I wish her nothing but the best in her new position."

Prior to coming to the Conservatory, Melissa taught for five years at Peabody. Similar to the Conservatory, Peabody’s dance program is growing, and they have a boys’ program taking off due to a new scholarship fund.

Though Melissa will miss the Conservatory, she’s happy to be moving closer to her family and her husband’s. 
“Baltimore is very centrally located for us,” she said.
Melissa was married last fall to Justin Nurin, a classical trumpet player and sailing instructor from Annapolis, whom she met at Peabody when she taught there. Nurin was a graduate student studying music performance.
With her move, she’ll be closer to her husband’s family in Annapolis and just a couple of  hours from brother and sister Abi and brother Jonathan Stafford, both of whom are principal dancers with the New York City Ballet.
“It was a hard decision to leave, having put my heart into establishing this program,” said Stafford. However, “I feel confident in leaving because I know that the program has grown to a point that we have good people in place. I’m glad to know that the kids are going to continue getting excellent training.”
We thank Melissa for her years of service and everything that she’s helped accomplish here at the Conservatory. And, though she will be missed, we wish her all the best in her new position!

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