Danny Milbauer, known to his students as Mr. D, is the dance teacher at Hamilton High School. He started dancing when he was 17. “I had always wanted to dance as a kid and was dancing as a child but no formal classes. We were pretty poor as I was growing up so food and all those good things were more important. That and my mom at the time feared I’d be gay if I dance, funny right. So when I went to college and I decided to become a teacher it was a natural choice to go after dance. Dance has allowed me to get through some rough times in my life, it gives me a way to express my emotions,” Milbauer said.
He was initially hired at Hamilton to teach history, even though his advisors told him that picking a subject other than history would make him more hirable. “They then told me that there were so many education majors studying to teach history, which is what I wanted to teach, that I should consider another major so I could get hired. They looked at my transcripts and said well you have a lot of English classes, why not English? Inside I was like, NO! I love English but to grade as many papers as English teachers have to grade…I’ll pass. Then they said well you have a lot of dance classes. A light bulb went off, I knew at that moment I would now major in dance and teach dance as well,” Milbauer said.
Part of what inspired Milbauer to teach high school dance was his experience dancing in high school. “I remember starting dance in high school because we could not afford lessons when I was young and never had anyone in my life help encourage me to go after my dream of being a dancer. Once I was there I had a great teacher who was nothing but encouraging. I wanted to be that teacher for those kids who thought they couldn’t achieve things,” Milbauer said.
Milbauer has taught high school dance for years and he loves it every day, even when his students make him want to pull his hair out.
“I was preparing for competition this past weekend, and a student asked me what I was doing. I told her it was for the girls’ competition. She said, ‘You must really love them to do that.’ I do,” Milbauer said.
Milbauer has transformed the passion his high school teacher encouraged him to find into a career of encouraging his students to do the same.