Lisa Tenczar G’13 is making a difference in the lives of many children with special needs both in and out of the academic classroom. She has been a dynamic teacher in the Lowell Public Schools for the past six years where she teaches three and four-year-old students with Autism. But what makes Tenczar’s professional work so multifaceted is that she has also been the owner/instructor of DancEnergy in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, for the past 33 years.
“I danced as a child, and always knew I wanted to be a dance teacher as well as a special education teacher,” Tenczar said.
She teaches people of all ages, from the age of three to adults, including those with special needs such as Autism and Down Syndrome. Tenczar was born deaf—she has 70 percent hearing loss in her left ear and 30 percent in her right—but she hasn't let that stop her, and she doesn't let anything stop her students.
“DancEnergy isn’t a typical dance studio – its inclusive of all ages, body types, and abilities,” Tenczar said. “I’m proud of all of my dancers and their families for their support and encouragement of each other. They accept each other’s differences and talents.”
Giving back to the community is a big part of DancEnergy. The studio holds multiple fundraisers for different causes throughout the year, including the Lowell General Cancer Fund, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and the studio has also celebrated "Light It Up for Blue” for Autism acceptance with a dance program that included guests whose lives have been touched by Autism, and presentations about how to accommodate those with Autism in the community. The dancers raised money for the GMAN Foundation, the mission of which is to provide meaningful experiences that lead to optimal life success for children on the Autism spectrum.
Tenczar graduated with her master’s degree in special education from the Eastern Massachusetts Bay Path University campus in 2013 at the age of 50 years old, at a time and age when she wasn’t even sure she believed in herself.
“At Bay Path, the supportive professors and staff made me feel like I could do this. Their patience was amazing. They created an atmosphere of comfort and acceptance for all learners and all ages to reach their potential. I was an older student and needed constant reassurance that I would be okay and would reach my goal,” Tenczar said. “My classmates represented a wide range of ages and came from all different backgrounds. We all learned from each other and supported each other in their pursuit of our master’s degrees. This level of support prepared and positioned me to make a difference in children’s lives every day in the academic classroom and on the dance floor,” Tenczar said.
At UMass Amherst, she earned an individualized bachelor’s degree that combined dance and education. She worked as a paraprofessional in the Lowell Public Schools until she earned her master’s degree from Bay Path. Tenczar credits Bay Path University for the many professional doors that her degree has opened for her.
Tenczar’s accomplishments in creating a more inclusive world have a profound impact on the field of special education and the world outside. To learn more about earning a master’s degree in special education at Bay Path University to carve your own successful path through our blended online/on-ground program offered in Concord, Sturbridge, or East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, click here.