The Academy Staff


Kaitlin O’Shaughnessy : Instructor

Kaitlin O’Shaughnessy


Ms. Kaitlin began her dance training at SPAD when she was 3 years old and has studied all form of dance. In addition to her SPAD training Kaitlin has taken classes from many well-known dancers and choreographers from around the United States. She danced competitively for over 10 years and won many overall titles in St. Louis. She was also a model for several dance magazines and costume catalogs. Kaitlin works for National Talent Competitions and travels throughout the US. She is a graduate of Missouri State University and is excited to be home sharing her love of dance with the students at SPAD.

Gretchen Kassel : Instructor

Gretchen Kassel


Gretchen was trained by the late Judy Evans of Gou-Jon Academy of Dance in St. Charles, Missouri.  She performed for over 13 years while attending Gou-Jon in the styles of Tap, Ballet, Jazz and Lyrical.  While attending St. Charles West High School, Gretchen was a member of the JV Poms and Varsity Dance and Drill team under the direction of Karen Bahr.  After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor's in Science-Education, Gretchen coached the Junior Varsity Pom squad at Parkway Central High School. She previously taught at Dance Experience Performing Arts Studio, choreographing dance routines for recital performances and competition.  Her students have won top awards while her choreography has been recognized at numerous competitions.  Gretchen has also guest choreographed for several high school dance teams in the area. She currently teaches Second Grade in the Wentzville School District and has her Master's Degree in technology from the University of Missouri- Columbia.

Ahley Oshel : Instructor

Ahley Oshel


Ashley was born and raised right here in St. Peters. She studied dance for over 15 years. She performed solos, duets, trios, and group routines. She studied all different forms of dance and especially enjoyed lyrical, hip hop, and jazz. She went onto Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. Where she was on the nationally ranked dance team. She served as captain and assistant coach while being a part of the Raven Dance Team. While getting her Bachelors in Athletic Training and minor in dance, she was part of a student run dance studio called the Raven School of Dance. She taught preschool as well as choreographed and danced in student pieces. During the summers in college, Ashley was a guest choreographer at the Dance Arts Center and Missouri Western State University. When Ashley graduated in 2010, she got a job offer to teach at the Dance Arts Center in St. Joseph, Missouri, She worked at the Dance Arts Center for 1 year before she got married and relocated back to St. Peters in the fall of 2011. Since then, she has been a personal trainer at Curves in St. Peters and raising her son Bryce. She is beyond ecstatic to be back in the dance world and ready to share her passion and talent of dance to the students at St. Peters Academy of Dance!

Heather Boening : Instructor

Heather Boening


Ms. Heather has been involved with dance for most of her life. She started dancing at a young age, at a studio much like St. Peters Academy of Dance. She was on the competition dance team, participating in many National Dance Competitions. As a high school senior she auditioned for the dance program at Oklahoma University and was accepted. She graduated with a degree in Dance Performance and danced in the University’s Spring, Winter and Fall performances. During her college summers she danced a Busch Gardens in their theatre shows. In her Senior Year at College she auditioned and was offered a professional dance position in the radio City Rockettes in Chicago. After two years, she moved to Las Vegas and was offered a professional dance position in the showgirl revue at Bally’s called JUBILIEE. She performed for five years before getting married and starting her family. She is excited about sharing her dance education knowledge, techniques, and skills with the students at St. Peters Academy of Dance.

Jill Shadden : Instructor

Jill Shadden


Jill Shadden graduated from Truman State University in 2002 with an MA in Elementary Education. Jill has taught ballet, tap, and jazz for over 15 years. She has competed regionally and nationally through the collegiate level. Jill also danced for the River City Rascals Diamond Girls and for the Truman State Showgirls. She is proud to be an instructor at St. Peters Academy of Dance, where she was one of Ms Kathy’s first students, 21 years ago. Ms Jill enjoys working with our dancers and is proud to ensure that they receive a solid dance education.

Heidi Bennett : Instructor

Heidi Bennett


Heidi Bennett holds a BA degree in dance from Mercyhurst College in Erie PA under the direction of Tauna Hunter. Prior to college, she trained at Alexandra Ballet in Chesterfield, MO under the direction of Alexandra Zaharias. She has also studied with many local teachers including Amy Scheers, Norma Gabriel, and Nathalie LeVine. She attended summer programs including The Rock School, North Carolina Dance Theater, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. After college, she performed professionally with Ballet Theater Midwest in Cincinnati, OH under the direction of Daniel Simmons. In 2012, she returned to St. Louis and began teaching at St. Peters Academy of Dance.

Allyson Leyen : Instructor

Allyson Leyen


Allyson Leyen started dancing at the age of six at St. Peters Academy of Dance. She joined that competitive dance team at SPAD and danced there for over ten years. During her time at SPAD she participated in multiple recitals, numerous dance competitions, and studied various styles of dance. She performed in solo numbers, trios, large groups, small groups, and production numbers. During the week she took on average of 12-15 hours of class in several different styles including ballet, jazz, hip-hop, pointe, tap, modern/contemporary, and musical theater. She got the opportunity to take class from some amazing professional dancers such as Alex Blitstein, Justin Tyda, Gil Mata, Matt Boyce, and many more. In 2005-2007, Allyson became a part of the River City Rage mini and junior “Ragettes” dance team where she performed pre-game and half-time routines at the River City Rage Arena Football League games. In 2007 Allyson was selected to perform with the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church National Youth Gathering Dance Troupe performing in New Orleans at the Superdome. In the years of 2009-2012 Allyson was selected to be member of the Fort Zumwalt North Varsity Panther Prideline Dance Team and was team captain for two years. While dancing at Fort Zumwalt North High School, Allyson performed at football and basketball games, as well as competed in regional and state dance competitions. Since graduating high school, Allyson now teaches classes at SPAD in tap and jazz with students ranging in ages from seniors in high school to three year olds. While teaching at SPAD and being on her high school dance team, Allyson has been responsible for choreographing routines, selecting and cutting music, selecting costumes, etc.

Tera Perkins : Instructor

Tera Perkins


Tera is originally from Florida and started dancing at the age of 5. She trained and danced competitively at Deltona Dance Academy. During this time she also trained under many well-known teachers and choreographers all across the country. Tera spent several summers on scholarship at The Edge and Broadway Dance Center. She also held many titles including Jr Miss Dance of Florida.

Tera began teaching in 2001 and took over as owner/director of Deltona Dance Academy aka The Dance P.A.D. in 2003. Her students consistently placed in the top ten at regional and national competitions nationwide. During this time she also received numerous awards of recognition for her choreography. For the last 6 years, Tera also has been judging for several large competitions across the country. She recently sold her studio after 9 years and relocated to the St. Louis area with her husband.

Kara DelGrosso : Instructor

Kara DelGrosso


Kara M. DelGrosso is from Boston, Massachusetts. She was originally trained as a competitive dancer but moved on to a professional career in Ballet. During her formative years she competed in numerous competitions including Starbound, Headliners, New York City Dance Alliance and more. Along with many awards and scholarships she was asked by many such as Joe Lanteri, Mia Michaels, Joey Dowling, and Neil Haskell personally as there convention assistants. After many years of completions she moved forward with her passion in ballet and trained at Boston Ballet School and then to The Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts. Throughout her time of training Kara has always had a second passion in teaching children her art. From creative movement to graduating Seniors, she has taught all ages and all styles. This is her third season in St Louis with her ballet company Missouri Ballet Theatre.

Eve Marie Bessenbach : Instructor

Eve Marie Bessenbach


EveMarie is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. She is a professional ballerina with the Missouri ballet Theatre Company.

Eve Marie Bessenbach began her pre-professional training on scholarship at the Jordan College Academy of Dance in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was also fortunate to dance and train at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in St. Petersburg, Russia, as well as summer programs at Nashville Ballet, BalletMet Columbus on scholarship, and Lexington Ballet on full scholarship. She graduated from Butler University, Summa Cum Laude, with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Pedagogy receiving highest departmental honors in May 2009. EveMarie also received the first Eileen Poston Dance Scholarship and performed with Butler Ballet and Butler Chamber Dance. She has danced professionally with the Lexington Ballet, Frankfort Ballet, and Dance Theatre of Tennessee, and she is currently a Company Artist with Missouri Ballet Theatre.

EveMarie has been on faculty at the Frankfort School of Ballet, a guest artist instructor for the Lexington Ballet School, Dance Theatre of Tennessee’s Academy of Performing Arts, and most recently BalletMet Columbus, where she served as an Academy Instructor and a Teaching Artist in the Education Department.She has also choreographed extensively, including her Honors Thesis titled “The Power of Hope,” “Fleeting Thoughts” for the Lexington Ballet, and “There’s No Place Like Home” for the BalletMet Dance Academy.

Shane Wieman : Instructor

Shane Wieman


Shane Wieman: Shane has been coaching gymnastics/tumbling and spotting for over 12 years. He attended Lindenwood University where he majored in Education and was a member of the Varsity Co-Ed cheer squad. Shane has competed at the collegiate level with the National Cheerleading Association and the United Cheerleading Association