Yolanda Johnson Avery

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We have heard of legacies before and the Lamar University Department of Theatre and Dance finally has one Yolanda Johnson Averyof our very own. The story begins with alumna Yolanda Johnson Avery. Yolanda graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Dance in 1982 before returning to LU to pursue her Master’s in Educational Counseling in 1992. Throughout this time, Yolanda owned and operated the Silsbee School of Dance for 10 years in Silsbee, TX, had a 20-year appointment as the Career Services Director at Lamar University and Lamar Institute of Technology, and is now teaching dance once again in the Port Arthur ISD.

When we spoke with Yolanda she noted how preparing for concerts and learning new genres of dance was amazing, crediting her instructors, and absolutely loving being a dance major. In Fall of 2020, Yolanda’s youngest son, Alton Avery, happily followed in his mom’s footsteps and joined the department of Theatre and Dance as a dance emphasis.Yolanda Johnson Avery

We look forward to getting to know Alton as an incoming freshman but wanted to shine the light on Yolanda in the September Alumni Spotlight for all she has done for the industry and SETX over the years.

Yolanda, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments (both personally and professionally)?

Actually, doing a full circle of teaching dance at the studio level, teaching aerobics while in graduate school, and now teaching in a public school. Dance is passion. Teaching dance is a love. It’s a 30-year circle. Watching my son become a dancer is pretty amazing also.

In what way(s) did your time at Lamar University impact your career or who you are today? Yolanda Johnson Avery

I actually was going to attend another university, but I went to summer school at Lamar and fell in love with the campus and decided to stay and changed my major to dance. From the academics to performing to pledging Delta Sigma Theta, I received a full college experience that I will always cherish. Being a member of the Lamar Dance Company was also a HUGE part of my life. I lived and breathed dance.

What is your most fond memory or favorite story of your time at Lamar University?

Being a freshman dancing with senior level students. The camaraderie with the dancers from all walks of life was great and set the tone for my life journey. 

What advice would you give current students and young alumni in your field?

Enjoy every bit of college life. It’s a wonderful experience. Take advantage of everything positive that’s offered. Don’t be afraid to jump to your dreams!


Yes, that is what college is all about, learning to take risks and experiencing life in a way that directs your personal compass to future success. Yolanda, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. We look forward to following up with you and Alton as he embarks on this very special path.