In this part of our Black History Month Series we take you to a performing arts school in Newburgh. As Candace Dunkley shares, the founder is making sure students know no dream is ever too big to be realized. 

NEWBURGH, N.Y. -- Inside the Newburgh Performing Arts Academy, also known as NPAA, the walls are lined with some of the academy’s students’ -- past and present. Each person who studies at the school gets a lesson in more than just choreography; they learn how to strive for excellence.

“I want them to remember the person who started the place, Miss Kim, all she wanted to do was see you shine,” said NPAA founder Kim Turner.

For Turner it's personal. She started her school about 13 years ago after noticing there weren’t many students of color in her daughter's dance class. Today, about 500 students make up her Newburgh Performing Arts Academy. The NPAA is made up of students who are mostly black and Latino. No one is ever turned away; scholarships are offered to kids who need it.

Since the academy has merged with the Boys & Girls Club of Newburgh, Turner's husband, Kevin White, who runs the boys and girls club, said he's seen how it has helped the children grow.

“Now that they have that access to the arts, we see that increase in their self worth, that increase in their confidence,” said White.   

Turner draws from Misty Copeland, the first African American female principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre. A picture of her hangs in one of the dance classes to give inspiration.

“You can be a Misty Copeland, your dreams can reach higher than you ever imagined,” said Turner.

That’s a motto Kamaria Carrington knows well. She’s been with the Academy since it started and now teaches there.  She just finished a summer intensive program at The Alvin Ailey School professional Division and said NPAA helped get her there.

“I think it helped a lot to prep me for the intense rehearsals and the schedule and traveling,” said Carrington.

While most of the students at the academy are under the age of 18 the school offers courses to students of any age.

“When you come to an adult class here; you get a good workout, you get a nice stretch, you get to perform in our dance recital,” said Turner.  

The school also offers a variety of music and acting classes.

Turner is confident her love of the Newburgh Performing Arts Academy will continue to grow.

“It’s been 13 years and I still love it. It doesn’t get tiring,” said Turner.