First row: Carly Barton, Alex Smith, Chloe Jones, Katie Jaggers, Abby Gonzalez, Olivia Andrews, Morgan Keel
Second row: McKay Pettus, Isabella Bordelon, Hope Davis, Mary Jo Thompson, Ashleigh Taggart, Emmy Rabren, Meadow Chandler
Third row: Traci Hill, Heather Davis, Grace Spencer, Stephanie Davidson, Deborah Bryan, Emma Erasmus, Baylee Cameron, Nealey Sikes
Mary Jo Thompson
Mary Jo Thompson is the owner of MJ's Academy of Dance. She began the studio in 2005, with the vision of educating young girls and boys about the possibilities that dance can offer them in all aspects of life. She believes that each child is special and deserves the opportunity to experience the many benefits of dance and baton, and this belief is reflected in how she runs her studio.
Mary Jo has been teaching children for over 40 years, 30 of which were spent in the Tuscaloosa County Public School System. She began teaching dance and baton after she saw there was a need to bring bring these opportunities to South of Town.
Mary Jo began twirling at 13, and participated on the dance team in college. Through her experience both personally and professionally, she realized the impact dance and baton can have on young lives and the importance for children to be exposed to these wonderful forms of art. Thus, her vision for a studio that would be inclusive and affordable became a reality in 1994, when she founded Highsteppers, which would later evolve into MJ's Academy of Dance in 2005.
Through the years, in her capacity as teacher, sponsor, and studio owner, Mary Jo has taught many, many girls (and some boys). In the past several years, her studio has moved toward a focus on competition teams, where she routinely produces State and National Champions. She is proud of the momentum of her studio, likes that no matter how much it grows it remains a staple in the South part of Town, and looks forward to many more successful years to come.
My name is Morgan Keel and I am a blonde-haired blued eyed girl from Grove Hill, Alabama who loves sweet tea and dance. I danced for fifteen years at my hometown studio, Dynamic Dance, training in tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical and pointe. I continued my dance career at MJ’s for a year and then joined staff the following year.
I currently attend the University of Alabama where I am minoring in human resource management and majoring in public relations with a concentration in graphic design and social media management. I love being able to dance beside my students in class whether that is a dance routine or playing freeze dance to Frozen. My goal with each class is for the students to leave with a smile on their face and ready to come back the next week.