Waltzing through the work week

Jenny Eustice wears many hats. Assistant principal, mother, the University of Iowa’s head dance team coach, and so many other jobs are taken on by her every day. 


Isabella Tisdale

Jenny Eustice acts as West’s Assistant Principal and University of Iowa dance coach.

Wake up in the morning and get ready to go to your job at West High from 8-4. After school, drive to dance practice and coach a team of collegiate athletes. Get home and help the kids go to bed and finally, time to close your eyes and get some sleep after a long day. This day may sound hectic to many, but for Jenny Eustice, this is just another typical day.

Eustice grew up in Plymouth, Minnesota, where she discovered her love for dance. After an embarrassing moment in her gymnastics class at three years old, she told herself she would never go back. This is when her grandma offered to take her to dance class, and it changed her life forever.

“I cried the first few classes,” Eustice said.  After a few weeks, dance not only became a passion but her life. As she grew up, she joined the dance team at Wayzata High School. This passion only grew when she got on the three-time world champion team at University of Minnesota dance team during her freshman year of college.

“When you perform something you really enjoy, it affects people,” Eustice said.  She worked to affect people’s lives with her years of dancing on the Minnesota Dance team while she attended school. 

As she came into her first year, Eustice also faced hardships. She was majoring in nutrition on a pre-med track and was hoping to become a physical therapist. 

“I was in organic chemistry and failing miserably,” said Eustice, “I was thinking about dropping out.” Everything Eustice had hoped and dreamed on her pre-med track was falling around her.
“That’s when I got a text from my old anatomy teacher,” said Eustice. Eustice had loved her teacher’s class in high school and had helped pique her interest in sciences. The teacher explained that due to high-class sizes, she could use any help she could. Eustice began coming in and helping twice a week. Along with her help in the class, she assisted her old dance team. 

“That’s when I knew I wanted to be a teacher,” Eustice said. She changed her major to become an educator and soon graduated from the University of Minnesota. She was dating her soon-to-be husband who was working in the wrestling program at the University of Iowa. When the spirit coordinator for Iowa Athletics reached out to Eustice, she took the job as dance team coach. 

“I’ve always wanted to coach college dance,” said Eustice. She explains the energy around college athletics as something different and stronger than that of high school. In 2009 she interviewed for a position as a science teacher at West and moved to Iowa City. 

Eustice has now been coaching the University of Iowa dance team for 15 seasons and has helped lead them to two third-place finishes at Nationals. Brittlyn Taylor is a University of Iowa student and has been one of her dancers for the last three years. She notes Eustice’s devotion to the team, “My first impression of Jenny, was noticing how motivating and inspiring she is. She always brought quotes to practice and read them aloud for us to connect back to as a team,” Taylor said. 

“We always talk about how we’re a family,” Eustice said. As a coach, she works to connect dancers in academic ways as well as personal. Sometimes she introduces students with similar majors or situations and hopes it can help them grow not only as an athlete but also as a person. Taylor also acknowledges this family dynamic seen within the team, “She also was/is like my second mom. I always feel and felt comfortable talking to her or asking her any questions,” Taylor said. 

“It’s really fun to see the freshmen come in scared and intimidated, and seeing them exit 22-23 years old looking back and knowing better,” Eustice said. Along with her time spent in the studio, Eustice also spends time in West High. 

“You’re constantly teaching but you’re also learning more about yourself,” said Eustice. Eustice began teaching science and said the student connection had a strong influence on her. 

Teaching is a profession where it’s not just what you do, it’s who you are

— Jenny Eustice

“When students come back, it’s really impactful,” Eustice said. She tells stories of students who may have struggled during high school coming back in army uniforms or as teachers thanking her for all she has taught them. 

Although some look at Eustice’s day-to-day life and wonder how she does it. She says it’s instilled in her by her parents. With a dairy farmer father and a mom who taught in elementary schools, “[Working hard] is all I’ve ever known,” Eustice said. 

So at the end of the day, after hours of work, practice, being a mother, and so much more, Eustice looks back on the craziness of the day with pride in her work, knowing its effects on athletics, students, and everyone else around her.