Chara Dance Academy proudly employs professional, caring, and dedicated dance instructors who are active role models in the lives of their students.  Our instructors teach students technical skills, Christian values, and self-confidence that will guide them throughout their dance journey and within their everyday lives.  Many of our instructors have danced at a professional level and/or hold a university level degree in dance. Each instructor participates in continued education both within and outside of the studio to stay current in the field of dance.


Shanna KirkpatrickShanna opened Chara Christian Dance Academy in 2008 with the intent of combining her passion for faith, family, dance, and music and offering it up to the community in one faith based, professional dance academy. She attended Texas A&M University, receiving a BS in Sport Management and Minor in Dance and Business. In 2017 she and her husband Bobby, Associate Pastor of Friendswood Friends Church, started Part of the Art Foundation providing dance scholarships to deserving kids. Together they have three small children. Shanna enjoys serving on the FISD Education Foundation and Board of Directors of Family Promise. She is a certified business and personal development coach with More Than Just Great Dancing!®, helping other studio owners create businesses that serve their students and communities with excellence!

Nicole has been with Chara since 2011. She spent 3 years training with Ingredients Dance Company in Dallas and had the privilege of touring the country with Dance Revolution Dance Convention. Nicole received her Bachelor’s in Public Relations and minor in Business Management and later started “Flight Dance Company”, who performs in the greater Houston area with Alyssa Beach, since 2015. Nicole manages our competitive and recreational dance companies and is the Administrative Director for Friendswood Contemporary Ballet. She has a passion for people and works diligently to extend the Chara Culture by giving back to our community.

Meghan has been with Chara since 2014 and brings over 33 years of dance experience with her. Meghan grew up with a passion for dancing and was captain of her high school dance team and danced competitively with her dance studio. She attended the University of Iowa receiving a BA in Dance and a BA in Performing Arts Entrepreneurship where she was a part of the university’s pre-professional dance company. Meghan then moved to Kansas City to dance professionally with Kacico Dance.  Coming to Houston through Teach for America, Meghan previously coached dance and cheerleading teams at YES Prep Southwest and South Houston High School.  Meghan holds a Masters in Physical Education from the University of Houston and is now our full time School Director writing curriculum, developing choreography, developing our instructors, and so much more.

Madison began her dancing in North Carolina at age seven. During that time she performed in works with Carolina Ballet, Graceful Expression Classical Ballet Company, and Atlanta Ballet’s Centre for Dance in Georgia. She attended college at Belhaven University for Dance where she learned how to integrate her faith into her dance. Madison loves teaching and working with our families at Chara Christian Dance Academy and also being the Artistic Director for Friendswood Contemporary Ballet!

Ashlynn began her dance training in Georgia at the age of 4 but spent 7 years of her childhood focused on gymnastics. At her home studio she assisted classes, danced competitively, and began teaching classes at the young age of 12.

After 4 years of college studying Chemistry and with her original sites on Pharmacy school, she decided that teaching dance and fitness was where her heart was. Ashlynn has been with Chara since 2015. In addition to being a dance instructor, Ashlynn is also the Special Events Coordinator in which she oversees all of the extra-curricular programs including Bloom, Reading & Rhythms, Summer Camps, Camp Creative, Darby’s Dancers, Adult Classes, and Chara OnDemand. She attends church at Antioch, helps lead the Antioch Dance Crew, and volunteers as a children’s ministry coordinator. She has a passion for all children and teaching them how to incorporate worship through dancing as a way to shine the light of Jesus to all!

Lori has been married to her husband Jim for 39 years, and is the mother of two daughters. She spent many years serving in Children’s ministry at her church and many years as a Chara Dance Mom herself.  She enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as traveling to new places. Her favorite thing about working at Chara is making the young dancers feel at home in our studio, as well as making families feel welcome and comfortable.

Jillian has been with Chara since 2016. She graduated from Northwest University with a Bachelor of Arts in Ministry Leadership. She attends Life Community Church in La Porte, serves in their children’s ministry as a teacher and their young adult ministry as a small group leader. She is a former member of the Deer Park High School Escort Drill Team and enjoys using her love for God’s children and dance at Chara to help find each dancer the style of dance that matches them perfectly. Let them praise His name with dancing. Psalm 149:3

Jennifer is a busy mom of four, three girls and a boy.  Her and her husband, John, have been married for 25 years. She is grateful for the opportunity to homeschool her four children.  She loves the Lord with all her heart and enjoys serving in the children’s ministry at Grace Church.  Seeing children understand who God has created them to be and encouraging them to follow their God-given dreams is her passion. Working at Chara gives her the opportunity to see so many dancers and musicians smiling as they go after their dreams.


Josh Cruz began dancing at the the age of sixteen after trying recovery of a spinal adjustment. Using dance as physical therapy and music as motivation, Josh began his journey as a self-trained dancer. For three years he was involved in kids programs at Grace Church including The Noize in which he choreographed and taught Hip-Hop with a fun, positive twist. Josh has an easy-to-follow style the energizes a room and inspires boys to experience the joy of dance! Josh is also the company director for Chara Boy’s Crew, an all boys Hip Hop performance company!

Casey is originally from League City! In her youth she was involved in synchronized swimming and martial arts. Dance eventually entered her life, leading her to become a three-year member of the Clear Creek High School Cavaliers.

A graduate of Baylor University, with a major in Finance and minor in Chinese, Casey was a four-year member and Captain of the Baylor Songleaders Dance Team, performing at NCAA football and basketball games.

Post-college, Casey moved to California where she continued dance for The Walt Disney Company at Disneyland, performing in numerous roles and productions. During her time in the Los Angeles area, she studio trained in various dance styles, particularly jazz, jazz-funk, and hip-hop.

After relocating back to Texas, Casey was selected as a member of the NBA Houston Rockets dance team, the Clutch City Dancers. She performed at Rockets’ games and served as an ambassador for the Houston Rockets at numerous community events.  Casey is excited to be joining the Chara staff and to share her passion for dance.

Dominique, born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, began her dance training with Sheridan Productions Inc., where she studied dance, music and acting. After high school she continued her dance training at The University of Louisiana where she graduated with a BFA in Performing Arts and concentration in Dance. During her time in college she participated in summer studies with the Nashville Ballet, American Dance Festival and Ballet Arkansas. Dominique also served as an Events Coordinator with UL’s Dance Honor Society, bringing the gift of dance to the Lafayette community. Dominique also danced with Ad Deum II Fall 2019 – Spring 2020. She is thrilled to share her love of dancing through teaching!

Ms. Ashley is from Tucson, AZ, attending the University of Arizona’s School of Dance.  She is an established dance instructor having taught ballet, jazz, lyrical and contemporary for over 20 years.  In 2006, Ashley moved to Jackson, MS to begin her professional training with Ballet Magnificat. In 2009 she completed her company apprenticeship and was appointed to Company Artist. During her time at Ballet Magnificat, she taught and performed across the United States as well as 13 countries throughout Europe, Asia, South America and the Caribbean – sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ through dance.

In 2016 Ashley and her husband, Kason, moved to Colorado where she taught in both studio and college settings. During this time, she and Kason formed META Performance to provide one-on-one movement and performance coaching for dancers of all backgrounds. We are thankful and excited to now have Ms. Ashley in Friendswood with us teaching our Chara community of dancers.

Leisha started dancing at Bonnie Scisco School of Dance when she was three years old and joined competitive dance in 2nd grade. She is a former Wranglerette, Rangerette, SFASU Spirit Team and Repertory Company member. While studying Dance and Communications Leisha earned her Bachelor of Science and teaching Certification. During her time at Stephen F Austin State University, she was able to teach and choreograph a musical alongside her professors. She loves spending time outside and with her 6 siblings, niece and nephews. She has a passion to teach and is blessed to start her 7th year. She is excited to begin her 3rd year working with Chara Christian Dance Academy and Chara Companies!

Grace grew up dancing at Chara and is a former member of our Competitive Companies and principal of Friendswood Contemporary Ballet. Grace has been on staff since 2017, teaching jazz, tap, contemporary, ballet and pointe and directs two of our Competitive Companies. Grace is passionate about creating a fun and impactful atmosphere for dancers where they can grow, be challenged and built up, and is excited to share the joy of dance with her students here at Chara!

Anna began her dancing career here at Chara at the age of eleven! During her time at Chara, Anna was involved with the Semi-Professional Ballet Company and danced as a competitive dancer with Chara Competitive Company for six years! Upon graduation from high school, Anna attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, where she continued her education and danced for UMHB’s collegiate dance team. Anna is grateful for that time learning leadership skills and spiritual lessons that have greatly impacted her future.

Anna is newly married to Miguel Reyes, who is the High School Minister at Sagemont Church. Anna is passionate about dancers learning that their identity is found in Jesus and using the gifts He has given us to bring him glory.


Combining a passion for teaching, children and music,  Mrs. Fletcher is an award-winning educator and musician who is thrilled to be sharing her love of fine arts in the Christian environment of Chara Christian Dance Academy.  Her goals are to motivate and encourage students while instilling a life-long appreciation of music.  She has taught piano lessons for 25 years, taught in public and private schools, and directed/performed with numerous choirs, singing groups, praise teams and musical productions.  When not teaching or making music, Mrs. Fletcher can be found with her other obsessions – reading, cross-stitch, fur babies and family.

Ms. Jeanette joins our music department staff this year as a private voice and piano teacher. She has been teaching 20 + years and currently teaches middle school Music and Choir in Pearland.  Jeanette graduated from the University of Houston with a master’s degree in Vocal Performance.  She also attended Trinity University and earned her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of St. Thomas. She has performed and traveled with the Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Chamber Choir. Along with directing several church choirs, she has sung as a paid soloist and choral member at a variety of Houston churches including St. Martin’s Episcopal, St. Paul’s United Methodist, and currently at Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church with their choir, and chamber group, Chorus Angelorum. Jeanette is honored to share the gift and joy of music with others through teaching. When not singing or teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and fur babies (4 dogs and 1 cat), along with reading, writing poetry, journaling, traveling, and cooking.

“Where words fail, music speaks.”

Hope was anxious to start learning music at the early age of 8. Between weekly piano and violin lessons, playing in ensembles and orchestras, and eventually teaching, music has brought amazing opportunities and memories to her life. Over the past 20 years, Hope has had the privilege of working with children, sharing the joy that music can bring. In both private and group instruction; whether creating a fun and engaging class for the very smallest musicians, or helping a student master a new concept, Hope loves being a part of each student’s unique journey.
Hope enjoys accompanying the congregation of First Baptist Algoa on Sundays, and during the rest of the week can be found singing, dancing, watching movies, and chauffeuring about with her six kids and dog.


Jon studied classical guitar and music education at the University of North Texas. Jon has studied the guitar for 35 years and began playing the piano at age 5. He has taught private lessons in guitar, piano and other instruments for over 25 years. Jon began playing professionally in church and school productions at age 15. Jon has performed with groups ranging in styles from blues, jazz, rock, country, funk, contemporary, pop, reggae and ska. Jon tailors his teaching according to the student’s interest, skill level and adaption with a heavy emphasis on technique.

“It is my purpose to share my gift with others.” – Jon Gowen


After 17 years working in the corporate world, Dionne made a life decision to leave her corporate job to focus more of her energy on her family. A wife and mother of two boys, she currently enjoys substituting for Friendswood ISD, serving on the Friendswood Youth Baseball Board and volunteering for her boys’ youth baseball teams. Health and wellness have always been a priority for Dionne. She first discovered her love for helping individuals along their wellness journeys when she taught water aerobics while attending college and step aerobics during her lunch hour and after work. After moving to Texas from Albuquerque, New Mexico, she embraced a new hobby of cross training and participating in CrossFit Competitions. She discovered yoga to help lengthen her muscles and rehab ongoing injuries she had from lifting heavy weights. During the pandemic, yoga became more than just a weekly practice. As she made it part of her daily practice, she began seeing not only the physical benefits of yoga, but also how it has helped her manage her stress and feel better about herself. She has taken her yoga journey to the next by becoming a certified yoga instructor and loves to help individuals discover how yoga can be a part to their mental, physical overall wellbeing.

Heather Smith has been a certified personal trainer since 2014. She is currently certifying for medical exercise, has a passion for strength training and yoga, and believes in using movement as medicine. Whatever your fitness level Heather wants her students to feel welcome in her classes and gives modifications to help tailor workouts to each student. Besides one on one sessions, Heather has taught fitness classes in small group, large group, and aquatic settings. She loves helping others find what movement works for them because exercise should be fun and stress free! Heather and her husband moved to the Houston area in 2016 and have a five year old daughter. In her free time she enjoys biking, hiking, reading and traveling.

Donna discovered her love for Pilates while pregnant with her first daughter. She pursued her passion and became certified by the Pilates Sports Center of Los Angeles. She is certified in Pilates mat and reformer with over 300+ training hours and has been teaching for a little over 8 years. She loves assisting all fitness levels reach their full potential and improve their overall well being. Donna is also a RN and mom to two Chara dancers.

Jackie has been teaching movement classes most of her life; starting with dance and tumbeling classes in high school, a Special Education Major and Dance Education Minor in college, and has been teaching yoga for nearly 8 years. Jackie has also taught Special Education, middle school and Sunday School for decades.

Having extensive movement experience allows Jackie the ability to craft classes that cater to all ability levels. She teaches a Vinyasa style, or flow, style class. Class usually entails a flow of warm ups, sun satulations, warrior sequences balance, core work, stretching, and meditation. She also has had Anatomy and Kineseology training and understands the inner workings of the body and how to help.

Jackie has also been trained in yoga specifically for trauma populations. This includes people with physical, mental, and emotional trauma as well as helping to manage stress and anxiety. Her class offers a “bottom up” approach to healing through aid the body.

Jackie has 4 kids, ages 4 to 11. She has been living in the Houston area for 11 years with her family. She takes a dance class as “self-care.” She also enjoys watercoloring, walking and meditating as hobbies….and loves Dr. Pepper and her dog.

Ceris Ann Brady
Ceris-Ann Brady has been teaching and or taking HIGH Fitness since 2014. About 7 years ago her family relocated to Calgary from Houston. She discovered a full body sculpting class called High Fitness. Ceris-Ann instantly fell in love with the class, concept, and people. Before she moved back to Texas, she decided to get her High Fitness instructor certification and begin teaching her own classes. Her goal was to bring High Fitness to Texas! Ceris-Ann is passionate about sharing my love for the class with everyone around me.

High Fitness is a cardio interval training class that incorporates athletic moves to music. It’s extremely fun and challenging all at the same time. It leaves the participants feeling accomplished and wanting more. It breaks barriers as anyone can do it. You don’t have to know how to dance in order to take the class. We provide modifications for people who cannot do the ‘Higher’ moves. Every class provides cardio, cardio push, toner, abs, and arms tracks to give the participants full body workouts.

Sara fell in love with High Fitness when she walked in to her first class 4 years ago! She has been a certified Instructor for over 2 years and enjoys sharing her love for High Fitness with others! When Sara is not teaching High Fitness, you can find her helping children in Friendswood ISD as a speech language pathologist!