Neighborhood resident Katha Black has been dancing since she was seven years old, doing everything from tap to ballet to jazz.

But country western dancing is her passion.

As director of the Wildcat Wranglers, a four-year-old country western dance team at Lake Highlands High School, Black is teaching teens to two-step, line dance and enjoy themselves in front of a crowd.

“I can take kids who have never had any dance, and show them how exciting dance is,” Black says. “It’s fun to see kids catch on and feel good about themselves.”

Black received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Texas in physical education with an emphasis in dance.

In 1972, she came to the high school to direct the Highlandettes drill team, a position that lasted until 1979. Currently, Black serves as chairperson of the high school’s Health and Physical Education Department. She lives in Lake Highlands with husband Ken and daughter Kacy, who attends Lake Highlands Junior High.

Black began the first dance class at the high school and eventually earned a full-time teaching assignment, instructing students in aerobics, jazz, modern, tap and precision-line dancing. She has been instrumental in developing dance curriculums throughout RISD, and has received several awards as a dance educator.

In 1992, she began the Wildcat Wranglers because students showed an interest in country western dance, she says.

She learned how to country western dance from her father when she was a child.

Such dancing teaches social skills, she says.

“When you go dancing, you’re all on the same playing field,” she says. “You’re either a good dancer or a bad dancer. It doesn’t matter if you’re a millionaire or bankrupt.

“That’s what has always intrigued me. You get to meet so many different people when you go dancing.”