CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts

Teaching through dancing and discipline

One morning in 2006, Amelia Marshall was taking her second-grade son to school when she noticed an article in the Los Angeles Times about the dismal graduation rates in LAUSD.

The University of Texas, Austin graduate had majored in the maths and sciences, but wound up pursuing a career on stage. She appeared as a dancer in legend Bob Fosse’s final Broadway show, and pirouetted her way into several other Broadway and National Tour companies. She was in a 15-year contract with NBC—a regular on some of their long-running soap operas—when she decided to sacrifice a career in the spotlight for what she felt was much more beneficial: a career in education.

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“The article that stopped me was the article that highlighted Algebra I as being one of the biggest hurdles for students to master. I thought ‘that’s crazy! Algebra’s fun!'” said Marshall.

She began by volunteering at her son’s elementary school, and feel deeply in love with the art of teaching.

“I was having so much fun, and the kids were learning,” said Marshall. It was not long before she hung up her dancing shoes and earned her teaching credential.

Marshall is currently one of two Assistant Principals at CHAMPS Charter, a small arts school in Van Nuys, where she has been an administrator for eight years. Beyond performing the typical vice principal responsibilities, Marshall has a outsized presence in the Dance Academy, where she co-choreographs pieces with students, and brings her real-world experience into the classroom.

“Ms. Marshall knows how to connect dancers to what they need to feel. It’s very helpful and very exciting to know that she knows everything,” said senior Brianna Vasquez, whose senior solo Marshall is overseeing.