Director of the Year: Vista Ridge dance team director earns prestigious title


The Vista Ridge High School Star Steppers weren’t surprised they had a Texas Dance Educators Association (TDEA) Director of the Year leading their team. However, the honoree was not expecting the news.

Araceli Lopez, the director in question, has been leading the dance team for the past 14 years. In fact, she formed the Star Steppers herself.

“It’s definitely exciting to start a team,” Lopez said. 

She was also the first dance director at Running Brushy Middle School.

“I have a very strong support system both professionally and personally,” Lopez said. 

Lopez has been teaching dance for 18 years. She danced as an Apache Belle at Tyler Junior College and was a member of the Leander Blue Belles in high school.

“I am definitely, 100 percent, a Ranger now,” she said. 

What does it take to earn this title?

“I received word from the board members of TDEA saying that I had been nominated,” Lopez said. “It gets narrowed down to three and then announced at the annual TDEA convention.”

Only other high school or middle school directors can nominate someone for the honor. Lopez said that made getting the news even more fulfilling.

“It’s quite an honor to be chosen by your peers,” she said. “There are so many other fabulous directors and I’m glad to be one of them.”

Fellow directors told Lopez that she was chosen because she was supportive of other teams and helpful. 

“They told me I was willing to help out and that I impacted them in a positive way,” Lopez said. “It was one of those ‘I can’t believe this is really happening to me’ moments.” 

She is looking forward to nominating a director next year so that they can feel the same pride she does.

“You definitely need to enjoy what you do to get this nomination,” Lopez said. “If you have a passion for something, you do better. My job doesn’t seem like work because I enjoy doing it.”