Nicole Flinn, associate professor of dance at Hope College, has won the 2018 Touchstone Award for Dance Teacher of the Year from the Michigan Dance Council.

Recipients “exemplify best practices in arts education; with a record of advocacy for arts programs; a dedication to bringing out the very best in their students; and a continued commitment to artistic excellence.  Touchstone recipients show the best in arts education and endow Michigan’s children with a lifelong capacity for innovation.”  Flinn will receive the annual award on Friday, May 11, during a reception at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival.

The award, which is generally designated for K-12 arts educators, reflects Flinn’s longtime and continuing involvement in K-12 dance education.  She taught dance and fine arts at the K-12 level for several years before and during her time on the Hope faculty.  A specialist in dance education and pedagogy, and K-12 curriculum development, she remains active in dance-education advocacy at the state, national and international level.

The Touchstone Award marks the second major award that she has received during the current school year.  In November, she received the Executive Director’s Award for Outstanding Advocacy from the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) for her leadership in working with stakeholders around Michigan to garner support for the state to continue to require that K-12 teachers of dance be certified in the discipline.

Flinn was a high school dance teacher from 2000 to 2012 and an elementary fine arts teacher from 2005 to 2013, both in the Owosso Public Schools, and was active in curriculum development at the school and district level.  The Owosso Public Schools named her Teacher of the Year in 2002, and in 2006 she was named the Dance Educator of the Year by the Michigan Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD), now named the Society of Health and Physical Educators Michigan (SHAPE Michigan).

She began teaching at Hope part time in 2008 and has been a full-time faculty member since 2011.  Her activities at the college include mentoring students in research and directing StrikeTime Dance Theatre, a pre-professional student ensemble that provides educational outreach for young audiences.  This summer she will be taking seven Hope students to Australia to participate in Dance and the Child International’s (DaCi’s) triennial conference, where Flinn will be presenting, and the students will be performing, providing lecture demonstrations and premiering a work that she and Hope colleague Angie Yetzke are creating through a Jacob E. Nyenhuis Faculty Development Grant from the college.

Flinn’s professional involvement beyond campus includes serving on the NDEO Membership Engagement Advisory Committee and as a member of the board of DaCi USA.  She has been active in Michigan’s Arts Education Instruction and Assessment Project, and is working with Dance Entry Level Teacher Assessment (DELTA) to collect data from the 57 dance education programs throughout the United States and promote the national entry-level pedagogy examination that measures subject-matter competency and serves as a gateway for dance certification.

She has made more than two dozen presentations at professional meetings, and her publications include articles in the DaCi USA Membership Newsletter, SHAPE Michigan Journal, and Journal of Dance Education.  She will be hosting and directing a conference gathering of DaCi USA on Hope’s campus in July 2020.

She serves area schools and organizations as a presenter, choreographer and resource person in the arts.  She previously coached the dance team and varsity girls golf in Owosso, and she has been the varsity girls golf coach at Holland High School since 2013.

Flinn graduated from Hope in 1997 and completed a Master of Arts degree at Marygrove College in 2001.  She taught fourth grade in the Ionia Public Schools from 1998 until coming to Owosso.

The Michigan Dance Council (MDC) is a nonprofit organization that serves as the voice for dance throughout the state, linking all the various components that comprise the diverse Michigan dance community through networking and advocacy.  MDC’s services include sponsoring events such as the Michigan Dance Festival, dance conferences and the dance component of the Michigan Youth Arts Festival and MAHPERD Convention, as well as publishing a quarterly newsletter and dance calendar.