For 23 years, Pam Didier-Delwisch has coached high school dance and taught language arts to high school and middle school students in Scappoose.
When she arrived in Scappoose, she never intended to coach dance. However, after reviewing her resume, the high school administrator asked her to help their young, struggling dance team. From there the rest fell into place.
Didier-Delwisch got to work building a dance program that has earned 13 top-five finishes at the OSAA dance and drill championships. In 2011, Scappoose was the only 4A school to earn a trophy during the Dance Drill Coaches Association of Oregon (DDCA) Category Championships. The next year they won the Hip Hop division.
In 2008, Didier-Delwisch and her dance colleagues launched the Scappoose Vision Dancers, Inc., a non-profit program to provide recreational arts for youth in Columbia County.
“I love seeing them go on to use their skills in dance to further their careers or life experiences," she said.
“I have had dancers graduate from prestigious colleges such as Cornish; join professional dance companies, theater companies, college dance teams, or Blazer Dancers. One of my former dancers competed in the Miss America pageant, using dance as her talent and won the talent/fitness scholarship.
"These are things that make my heart swell with pride - just knowing that I played a small part in their journey.”
Didier-Delwisch has shared her love of dance with her two daughters -- Cassidy and Calysta Didier -- both of whom have been part of the Vision Dancers. Cassidy, her youngest daughter, is a senior on 2021 team.
On coaching her daughters, she said: “I feel blessed to share these experiences with my girls; it goes way too fast.”
While she has built a legacy of success in Scappoose, what she is most proud of is her dancers past and present.
The goal was to encourage boys and girls from kindergarten through high school to explore the arts through dance. In 2012, she opened a dance studio in Scappoose with her close friends.
This provided an additional opportunity to coordinate more organized youth teams and give kids an alternative activity to compete and grow their talents. Dance has become a blessing to this small community that lacked many recreational options and provided another chance to develop interest in the performing arts.
Each year her program has grown, tripling in size from when it first began. In 2020, more than 100 kids were participating in dance from kindergarten through high school. Nearly every assistant, youth coach, summer camp instructor or choreographer over the years has been an alumna/alumnus of the Scappoose dance program.
“It's humbling to witness the legacy that continues to build year after year," she said.
Didier-Delwisch was honored as a DDCA 4A Dance Coach of the Year in 2009. In 2019, she was nominated for the National Dance Coaches Association (NDCA) High School Coach of the Year. She has also been recognized by the NDCA and the DDCA with years of service pins for coaching more than 20 years.