WAVERLY TOWNSHIP — Almost anyone in the Abingtons who has worn ballet slippers knows Miss Jackie.
Miss Jackie is Jaclene Devine, owner and artistic director of the Devine School of Dance at the Waverly Community House, where she will begin her 30th year of teaching in September.
The Clarks Summit resident started teaching at the Devine School of Dance in her senior year at Kutztown University.
“I have always loved the arts, both performing and visual, and I felt by teaching dance I could share that appreciation with young students,” she said.
She feels she has accomplished that goal.
“The most rewarding part of being a dance teacher is being able to teach my students from the age of three to seniors in high school and watch them grow into successful young adults,” she said.
And many of those success stories haven’t forgotten Miss Jackie.
“I have kept in touch with many of my former students,” she said. “I have begun teaching children of former students, so it is nice to see multiple generations dance in the studio. I have some former students who return for my adult class and they stand in the same spot they did when they were in high school. I have also had some former students show up and knock on my door just to say hi. Sometimes I get texts from former students.”
Those texts that say things like, “Thank you for everything, Jackie! You really do change girls lives with what you do.”
Devine noted her students didn’t need to go into dance field to benefit from studying dance.
“Dance teaches them how to be a team player, helps reduce stress for the older dancers, helps them focus and balance their mind, body, and spirit at a time when so much is expected of them. In the process they gain life-long friends and an appreciation of the arts that they can carry with them for a lifetime,” she said.
A member of the American Academy of Ballet, Devine graduated from Kutztown University, where she majored in performing and visual arts and was a member of the university’s prestigious dance company, “Performing Dance Portmanteau.” She studied for two summers at the Briansky Saratoga Ballet Symposium at Skidmore College, and has been a student of prominent instructors such as Jojo Smith, Lynda Gache, Frank Hatchett and Gus Giordano.
Outside the Devine School, Jaclene has choreographed the Abington Heights School District’s productions of “Copacobana” and “Pippin.” She did an Artist in Residence production at Waverly School and choreographed Lakeland High School’s production of “The Music Man.” She was also adjunct faculty at Marywood University, where she was assistant to the head of the dance department.
But the biggest part of her dancer’s heart belongs to the Devine School of Dance.
“I have been dancing there all of my life,” she said.
Jaclene grew up in the studio, which was founded by her mother, Cassandra Devine, in 1976. When Cassandra retired in 2013, Jaclene became the studio’s new owner.
“I have kept the same level of quality and technique and retained its quaint family atmosphere,” Jaclene said, noting she has added Mommy and Me classes, Adult Ballet classes, movie night and a princess camp. She also added two former Devine School graduates, Lauren Rzeszewski and Melissa Durante, to the school’s teaching staff.
Jaclene’s husband, Brad Smith, and sons Zack (19), Carson (17) and Avery (15) Smith also are part of the studio.
“They are invaluable to me,” Jaclene said.
Brad works on the administrative side of the business and recital ticket sales. He and the boys are behind the scenes with staging and lighting at recitals. And the boys, accomplished musicians, performed when the Abington Heights Honors Orchestra played live music for the 2017 recital.
The dance school will once again collaborate with the Abington Heights Honors Orchestra and Choir for its senior spring 2019 ballet performance, “An Evening of Music, Song, and Dance.”
“The honors orchestra and choir are filled with so many talented and dedicated students,” she said. “It brings me joy to be able to bring the arts together to create a magical evening.
“We are lucky to live on a community that values the arts, both in and outside of schools and understands the importance it plays in the development of our youth. If I could sum up the feeling of the Devine School of Dance with a quote, it would be, ‘To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.’ ”
TERI LYON IS A MOM, GRANDMOM AND FREELANCE WRITER WHO LIVES IN GLENBURN TOWNSHIP WITH THE YOUNGEST OF HER THREE DAUGHTERS AND THEIR CAT.