National Teaching Fellow 2014
Dr Sara Houston is a tireless champion of professional development and work-related learning. She is also a leading figure in the community dance movement and has had oversight of national initiatives to safeguard quality and standards, and professional development in teaching and leading in the participatory and community dance sector.
A creative facilitator, Sara has inspired students to see the worth in themselves as future dance practitioners and leaders within the dance and education sectors. One graduate wrote: “I can only thank Sara for being so inspiring and helping me to find what I excel at. She is an ambassador for dance teaching in the UK and was a lecturer that has made a significant difference to my life. I hope that one day, I will have the same effect on one of my pupils as Sara did to me.” A keen collaborator, Sara has helped bring forward initiatives within the universities she has worked in to embed structures to effect long-term change regarding employability opportunities, standards of professional training and student personal development. One colleague noted: “I have observed how Sara’s passion and enthusiasm for teaching her subject drives her practice as she constantly seeks to innovate in ways which enhance the student experience.” Sara is passionate that vocationally-orientated students graduate into an industry that advocates life-long learning, quality and which values its workers. To that end, in her role as Chair of the Board of the national strategic support organisation, People Dancing, she has steered through initiatives to promote continuing professional development, to promote quality and high standards of practice and a valuing of excellence. Her knowledge and understanding of the community dance profession has been underpinned by research.
In her work, Sara has often drawn upon her research to raise the profile and develop excellence in emerging fields, such as teaching and leading dance for people with Parkinson’s and to develop reflection for arts managers. Her engagement with the profession always transfers to the university classroom. Her work with people with Parkinson’s earned Sara the BUPA Foundation Vitality for Life Prize in 2011 and she was Finalist for the National Public Engagement Awards in 2014.
Principal Lecturer in Dance in the Community
University of Roehampton