Tiffany Pleus keeps busy raising her family, working at Jefferson City Public Schools and spending another 15-20 hours a week with her students sharing what she's been doing her whole life and hopes to imprint on theirs — dance.
Pleus was recently named runner-up in a national dance instructor of the year contest sponsored by a specialty flooring retailer, Greatmats. She is the dance director and a teacher at Elite Performing Arts in Jefferson City, but she didn't even know she had been nominated by her dance students' parents for the Greatmats contest until halfway into it, when Greatmats contacted her for a phone interview. The first-place winner received $250 worth of Greatmats dance flooring.
Pleus said she pushed to win not just for the title, but also because "I eat, sleep and breathe" Elite.
While Pleus got second in the Greatmats contest, the votes for her and the winning instructor from Florida combined to tally 13,000 of 16,400.
"One thing that we give them is a tool to be themselves," she said of how dance is important for her students, adding dance is also a tool that can be used past K-12 school — such as in a dance major in college, for shows or in auditions.
"I started dancing when I was 3 in Kansas City. I was a competitive dancer at 4," she said.
Pleus went on to dance on a high school team and as a Mule Kicker at the University of Central Missouri. Then she "fell in love, met a boy, moved to Jefferson City."
Within the year after she moved to Jefferson City, Elite Performing Arts contacted her "and asked me if I would be interested in teaching, and that was 11 years ago. I was put in the director's position about seven or eight years ago here. That kind of gives me reign over the competition team. We've got a pretty healthy competition team here at Elite."
She also coached the Jefferson City High School dance team for three years, starting in 2012. She's been a secretary at JCHS, but now is the administrative assistant to the director of Nichols Career Center.
Pleus and her husband have two young sons, and she said their sons "love to come to dance (at the studio). I feel like God gave me two boys because I have so many girls in dance class."