Jill Hasty McNew combines her passion for children, teaching, and dance as the owner of Jill’s Studio of Dance in Huntsville, Alabama.
McNew opened the studio’s doors in 1995 to 75 students eager to learn tap, jazz, and ballet. Today, Jill’s Studio of Dance teaches more than 500 aspiring dancers. While many of the studio’s alumni have achieved national success on stage and on screen, McNew feels called to do more than just teach little dancers how to execute a perfect plieÌ.
“I consider the studio my mission field,” McNew says. “My number one goal is to help each child I teach to know Him better. Today’s culture steers children and teenagers so far off the right path. They are used to settling. I want them to seek after God’s best for their life. I promise them that His best will be far greater than anything this world has to offer.
“God has given us the great joy of seeing lives change at our studio,” McNew continues. “In the 16 years we’ve been in business, I’ve seen many students and parents come to know Christ. To see students develop a relationship with Christ and then find their security in Him is so rewarding.”
The studio bears Jill’s name, but it’s a family affair. Jill is the lead instructor and choreographer; her husband, Brian, manages the business end of the operation; and the couple’s daughters, Sara Laine and Lakin, are student dancers.
“My husband played basketball and knew nothing about the dance world,” McNew says. “When I approached him with the idea of opening a dance studio, Brian asked me if I was willing to make sacrifices in order to make it happen. I told him yes, and he said, ‘Then I’ll help you.’ As our business manager, Brian is a big reason for our success. I am incredibly grateful for all he sacrifices so that I can do what I love.”
In 2008, Jill McNew was honored as National Teacher of the Year by the prestigious Company Dance faculty. Another career highlight was appearing alongside Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift in a dance scene and music video from Hannah Montana: The Movie, a role McNew says made her “quite popular with my daughters’ friends.”
McNew has fond memories of performing in musicals at Mississippi College, and is still proud of the three national cheerleading championships she and her fellow varsity cheerleaders brought home to Clinton. But when she thinks of her time at MC, it’s the life lessons she learned that stand out to McNew the most.
“I had a mentor during my college years who told me over and over again, ‘Go for the gold. Do not settle,’” McNew says. “To anyone wanting to pursue their passion, I would tell them to take that leap of faith. I would also say it requires a great amount of prayer. You cannot please everyone. You have to do what you know is right in your heart and trust that God will handle the rest. We give Him all glory and honor for any and all success.”