By Jesse Gunderson.
Christine Kenney is an amazing teacher who has been at Heritage for 13 years. Students who have had her in any of her fitness or ballroom dance classes know her as a dedicated hard worker who truly loves teaching her students. Although Heritage scholars may think they know her, especially her ballroom students, to truly appreciate her they must to know the backstory of both her family and professional life.
In fourth grade, young Christine moved to Germany and quickly became fluent in German. She later moved to England and again back to Arizona. She went through high school singing and performing in multiple choirs and becoming a “choir nerd” (Kenney). Singing with her beautiful soprano voice, she competed with her school choirs and performed in musicals. She says singing was her favorite thing and that it was “an incredible high, just an incredible high.” In her junior year, she and her family again moved to Germany and also Scotland. While in Scotland, her choir teacher in Arizona asked her to audition for choir back home. Because of this, the music teacher in Scotland, who conducted the audition to be sent home on cassette tape, asked her to perform with his choir at a Cathedral in Scotland. She sang a descant with the choir that was broadcasted on BBC radio. Because of her life in Europe and her adventurous spirit, Mrs. Kenney fell in love with traveling. If it were up to her, she would be traveling all the time to visit family and exotic places.
After graduating high school, she enrolled and was accepted to BYU. She decided to take the ballroom classes. She fell in love with it. Whenever she saw the team perform she “ached” to be on it, but her schedule and finances would not allow it. She graduated college with a major in Family Science (after switching her major from Computer Science) and went on to have her family. In time she became interested in health and started weightlifting and bodybuilding. She competed for both and she won first place.
People knew Mrs. Kenney could dance, so she would get asked to choreograph for various events including Junior Miss Pageants. One time she was asked by a lady in her ward to make a Swing routine for the adults to perform at an event. Mrs. Kenney confidently agreed but soon realized that the group wasn’t up for the challenge. Out of desperation, she called a local studio and asked for help. This is where her love of Ballroom dancing was rekindled. She learned a routine which she performed. She then continued lessons with various teachers who taught her different styles and emphasis on technique. She took lessons and competed for years and then one fateful day she taught some salsa dancing at a Mother/Son activity here at Heritage.
On this day, Principal Taylor saw her and remembered how important ballroom was to him. Many years before, Mr. Taylor had met his wife at a dance in the very building where his school was now running. He asked Mrs. Kenney if she would teach ballroom at Heritage and she accepted. It began with one class of ballroom students. Over time, it became popular because of some star athletes she remembers joining who advertised how cool it was. They made so many students join that eventually she split them into Ballroom I and Ballroom II. A few years later she made her first Ballroom III class where she focused more on technique and more challenging dances. She then began teaching some other of her favorite things: pilates and fitness.
Besides teaching at Heritage, Mrs. Kenney is a Massage Therapist, has four grown children, and nine grandchildren (and counting…). Recently, Mrs. Kenney went to Disney World with her grandchildren and joked, “I was running around with more energy than they were!” She skis, travels, and dances full of energy, thanks to her love of exercising.
All students who get to know her (especially those in ballroom) get to see her love for the thing she is teaching and want to work to become good at it. Ballroom is the class that really shows how much passion and love she has for both the dance and the students who become her “kids.” Join ballroom. Join the family. Find something that you never knew could be so fun. Join the class that reflects Mrs. Kenney’s life and love.