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Mother en pointe

On her birthday, Lauren Monnett receives a crown from ballet student Mia Carver.

Lauren Monnett is a mother, wife and former ballerina with the Lexington Ballet School. An extra bone in her ankle, a common physical condition, made it too painful to be en pointe, ending any hopes of becoming a professional dancer. But Lauren's story wasn't over.

Lauren met her husband Ben while attending Morehead State University, and the couple had their daughter Kayden a year later.

"She was kind of a surprise. We didn't expect to quite get going that fast," Lauren says.

She fully embraced her new role as a mother and put her plans of pursuing a career in education on hold. At the time she had no intention of staying in Morehead. She has since learned to appreciate the pleasures of small town living and the sense of community that comes with it.

While living here, Lauren recognized a need for more extracurricular opportunities for the area's children outside of basketball, baseball, soccer and gymnastics.

"There's not a lot of things for little people to do here," Lauren says.

In 2011 she opened the Morehead Dance Academy, the only ballet school in Morehead. Through the academy, Lauren is able to continue her involvement in and passion for dance. Though part of her wishes she could devote all of her time to her own children, Kayden and Preston, she provides more than 60 local children a chance to learn ballet and other forms of dance.

"If I leave, then so does the opportunity for the other children I teach. It would just be gone," Lauren says.

Her days are long and start early. She watches Preston during school days, and then Ben takes over at home while she instructs courses in the evenings.

"I love that I am able to stay at home with my kids and still have a professional life," Lauren says. "I get the best of both worlds."    

Macy Caudill (front), Ava Carver, Addison Oney and Linsday Webb get warmed up before ballet class begins. Morehead Dance Academy offers ballet classes for all ages and skill levels.
Ballet students perform on pointe at Morehead Dance Academy. Pointe work requires special shoes and strength for proper weight transfer.
Lauren closely watches her students perform, checking for proper technique.
Caroline Carlisle and fellow ballet students practice pointe work on the barre. In ballet, black leotards are typically reserved for the highest level students.
Preston Monnett watches Catherine Smith and her son as they leave the Toddler & Me class at Morehead Dance Academy. Classes are offered every day for local children.
Lauren Monnet hugs her husband Ben before he heads off to Mount Sterling, where he works as a teacher. It is a 30 minute commute for him to get to work.
Three-year-old Preston Monnett plays hide-and-seek with his mother Lauren at home. In addition to being a stay-at-home mom, Lauren owns and operates Morehead Dance Academy. "He has a ton of energy." says Lauren.
As part of their nightly routine, the Monnett family reads books before bedtime. With their busy schedules, this is one of the few opportunities the family has together.
Kayden Monnett lies down on her bed after a family story and prayer. Six-year-old Kayden shares her bedroom with her younger brother Preston.