Our Story

Wistwind School was established in 1970 by Katy Steele to give the children of the Laurel Highlands a place to learn movement through gymnastics and baton. After graduating from Slippery Rock University and spending several years teaching Physical Education in the Belle Vernon School district, she decided to begin her own school. In 1994, her daughter Kara Steele O'Connor also graduated from Slippery Rock University and joined the business. With a degree in Exercise Science and studying dance at SRU, Kara brought a dance program to Wistwind School. We believe our school has grown into a highly respected and recognized place to learn the very valuable art of dance, gymnastics and baton. We continue to add classes and variety to our school and have carefully hand selected quality instructors to help expand our students repertoire. Our students leave our school as well rounded individuals both on and off the stage. We focus on discipline, and bringing out the best in each and every student in a fun environment. We value all our students and their families and feel very fortunate to be able to work with the children that we do!


Katy Steele 
Founder / Owner / Retired Instructor

Katy has 40+ years of

experience teaching

including a BS degree

in Physical Education

from Slippery Rock

University. At SRU she

was a majorette and

after college her career began in Belle Vernon

School District as a Physical Education teacher. Then once she started a family, she started the Wistwind Swimming School and then the Wistwind Baton and Gymnastics  School followed. Katy was also the Mount Pleasant High School Majorette sponsor for many years and choreographed all routines for their performances. She has turned out many graduates that have gone to the next level to be Majorettes in college. Katy has lived in this community for over 45 years with her husband, Bill, where they raised two children; Kara and Wes. Outside of Wistwind School Katy now spends her free time with her five grandchildren and working on her horse farm. Katy has worked with hundreds of children and most will say she has had a profound impact on their lives. Katy is the baton instructor and one of the gymnastics instructors.

Kara O'Connor 
Owner / Instructor 

Kara has 25+ years of

experience teaching at

Wistwind School. She

has a BS degree in

Exercise Science from

Slippery Rock University

where she also studied

dance. While at Slippery Rock

her love for dance grew and

was able to learn from various instructors from around the country performing and competing with two dance groups in her years at SRU. Kara began teaching at Wistwind School upon graduating from SRU and introduced the dance program. Several years later became a full partner in the school and now is the sole owner.  She has a love for children and loves to teach and feels blessed to have a business that allows her to spend the vast majority of her time with her three children; Casey, Asher and Kiersten. Kara teaches all the classes at Wistwind School and does the fitness classes and personal training in Fitness at Wistwind. During the summer months Kara is also the Aquatics Director at the Rolling Rock Club. 

Katharina Altman
Yoga Instructor

Katharina was first 

introduced to yoga and

pilates as supplements to

her classical ballet

training. While attending

Indiana University of

Pennsylvania where she completed undergraduate studies in anthropology, Religious studies, Pan African studies and Dance; it was there that she found a deeper yoga practice and became interested in treating the body from a wholistic perspective. Katharina has completed her 200 RYTT at Moonglow Yoga. She loves to learn about the various styles of yoga and feels that there is a form of yoga to go with whatever you may need. Her style of teaching draws inspiration from her background in dance and pilates and incorporates different styles of yoga including Ashtanga, Yin, Resorative, Vinyasa Flow, Gentle, beginner and Power. She enjoys bringing yoga into the lives of people who have never experienced it before and sharing the many health benefits it can give them. Since earning her 200 hours she has attended trainings on Fascia, completed a Kids Yoga Certificate program, a Yin and Restorative Certificate and an intensive teacher training in Teaching Yoga and Mindfulness to At-Risk and Traumatized Populations. When not on the mat you can find Katharina busy with her husband and two children. 

Ask us about Wistwind Swimming School! Swimming season is June - August