[ symposium ]
2013 Symposium on Music in Schools
The fourth biennial Symposium on Music in Schools took place June 6-9, 2013 at the Yale School of Music. This Symposium focused on one main theme: The Role of Music in School Reform.
The intensive program included discussions about the history of school reform, the present state of school reform, and the role of partnerships in enhancing the work of public school music programs. The culminating discussion gave the teachers an opportunity to state their points of view about why music is so important to education, and why it should be at the center of any discussion about curricular change and school reform.
Featured presenters included Richard Deasy, retired director of the Arts Education Partnership; Garth Harries, Superintendent of the New Haven Public Schools; Scott C. Shuler, Immediate Past President of NAfME; David Myers, Director of the University of Minnesota School of Music; and Dantes Rameau, co-founder of the Atlanta Music Project. On Friday evening, teachers attended a talk and concert by members of Decoda, a cutting-edge chamber music society founded in 2011 by alumni of The Academy. The closing awards banquet on Saturday evening featured a performance by our own All-City Honors Chorus, and a keynote address given by Anne Midgette, classical music critic for The Washington Post.
With the completion of this Symposium, the School of Music had recognized nearly 200 full-time, certified music teachers from 43 states as Yale Distinguished Music Educators.
2013 Yale Distinguished Music Educators
This year’s Distinguished Music Educators were selected from a pool of nearly 300 nominees from 45 states. The winners represented 32 states, including our first attendees from Kansas and Mississippi.
Please click the “+” buttons below for more information about each teacher.
Cumberland Public Schools – Susan Alves has been a music teacher for 30 years. She has been the choral specialist at Cumberland High School, where she conducts all of the choral ensembles, for the last 25 years. The Clef Singers, the high school’s select, auditioned group has travelled extensively, representing the State of Rhode Island at such events as the Bicentennial of the French Revolution in Paris in 1989 and at the Celebration of the End of World War II in Washington, D.C. in 1995. The ensemble also performed with Kenny Loggins and the Boston Pops in 2010. Susan has experience as department chair of the Fine, Applied, and Technical Arts Departments and is National Board Certified.
Ann Arbor Public Schools – Abigail Alwin, B.M.A. and M.M.Ed., University of Michigan, has taught Orchestra in the Ann Arbor Public Schools since 2002. Her outreach efforts have included teaching Violin in Kenya during the summer of 2012. In addition to teaching, Ms. Alwin enjoys performing new music from local composers, learning about non-Western classical traditions, and is active in the free improvisation community in Southeast Michigan.
Big Spring School District – Daryl Balseiro is in his eighth year at Big Spring High School (Newville, PA) where he directs the Concert Band, “Marching Bulldog” Band, two Jazz Bands, and the Percussion Ensemble. In addition, Balseiro teaches Intro to Music Theory, AP Music Theory, two levels of guitar classes, and serves as department head for the music department. During the summers, Balseiro serves as a conductor with American Music Abroad.
Recently, Balseiro was named a semi-finalist in the search for the 2014 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year. He is an active member of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association and NAfME. In his time outside of school, Balseiro maintains an active schedule as a freelance musician and also enjoys spending time with his best friend, inspiration, and wife, Julia. He has a B.M. in Music Education from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and an M.M. in Conducting from Missouri State University.
Osseo Area Schools, ISD 279 – Dr. Wendy Barden has served as a music educator and the K-12 Music Coordinator in Osseo Area Schools for 36 years. Her teaching experience spans elementary through college levels, and in every setting it is apparent that she values the process of music learning as much as the product or performance. Barden holds three degrees from the University of Minnesota – B.S. in Music Education, M.A. in Music Education, and Ph.D. in Music with emphasis in Music Education and Musicology. She has served as president of both the Minnesota Band Directors Association and Minnesota Music Educators Association. Barden is a member of Phi Beta Mu.
New York City Department of Education – Cara Bernard is an Ed.D. student in music education and University Distinguished Fellowship recipient at Teachers College, Columbia University. Ms. Bernard works with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City™ in their Satellite School Program, working with New York City public schools to bring a choral experience to over 1,000 children throughout the city.
As a choral clinician, she has given workshops and guest conducted throughout the tri-state area and New England, and has presented for and at the NYC Department of Education, College Music Society, Society for Music Teacher Education, NAfME, and Carnegie Hall. She also serves as a curriculum writer for the NYC Department of Education Office of Arts and Special Projects.
Ms. Bernard holds an M.M.Ed. from Westminster Choir College and a B.S. in Music Education from New York University. She studies conducting with Francisco J. Núñez and Lynnel Joy Jenkins.
Geary County Schools, USD 475 – David Bernard-Stevens is a native of North Platte, NE and a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He has directed the string programs in Junction City, KS and the adjacent Fort Riley army post since 2007. In addition to growing the orchestra program, Bernard-Stevens also maintains a small private lessons studio and is an active performer in several local orchestras.
David was the first Distinguished Music Educator selected from the state of Kansas.
Montgomery County Public Schools – Aaron Breeck began studying violin at age nine. He received his B.M.Ed. from the University of Kentucky. While there, he studied violin with Daniel Mason and Margaret Karp. Mr. Breeck’s initial experience in teaching orchestra was at the University of Kentucky as a charter member of the UK String Project. Mr. Breeck is currently in his second year as the Director of Orchestras at Montgomery County High School, having instructed at McNabb Middle School and surrounding elementary schools for the six previous years.
Mr. Breeck is an active member of the orchestra community throughout the state of Kentucky. He has been a guest conductor and has adjudicated for Solo & Ensemble Festivals as well as Large Ensemble Festivals in central and Northern Kentucky. Mr. Breeck currently serves as a KMEA Orchestra Division Chair and is a member of NAfME and the American String Teachers Association (ASTA).
Morgan Local School District – Liz Brown has been teaching general music to elementary-aged children for six years. She instructs K-6th grade at East Elementary in McConnelsville, OH.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Liz received a B.S. in Music Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an M.M. in Music Education from Kent State University. In 2008 she received an Exemplary Educator Award from her school district. She currently instructs eight piano students.
Liz enjoys teaching music to her eager, young students. She loves to spark their imaginations and creativity. She is noted for her enthusiasm, energetic teaching style, and desire to go above and beyond. Her aspiration is to believe in her students so they believe in themselves, while instilling in them a lifelong connection to music.
Liz lives with her husband Steve, also a music educator, in Marietta, OH.
Union County Public Schools – Franklin Casstevens resides in Monroe, NC with his wife Holly and son Trevor. His passion for the arts is showcased each week as he serves as Arts Coordinator for Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts. He oversees arts classes, clubs, and community programs including Benton’s partnership with Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, NC and their network as an A+ School. He writes grants and is working to create a true arts infused campus.
Mr. Casstevens served as Benton’s music specialist for 21 years before leaving the classroom in 2007, as the school became the first elementary school of the arts in UCPS by adding dance, drama and strings. He also serves as Minister to Music and Youth at the New Salem Baptist Church in Monroe and has seven private piano students weekly. He is very active in his community and loves being creative and thinking outside the box.
Southern Berkshire Regional School District – Chris Clark holds an undergraduate music degree from Cleveland State University and a double Masters in Music Education and Choral Conducting from Bowling Green State University. He taught for a number of years in the Ohio public school system, where his students earned superior ratings at state adjudicated festivals, toured locally, and shared the stage with University of Toledo choirs. Mr. Clark has given lectures at state professional development conferences and conducted a number of community choirs.
Currently, Mr. Clark lives in Massachusetts, where he is Director of Music and choir teacher for grades 3-12 in the Southern Berkshire Regional School District. His Madrigal group won first prize in the inaugural Lenox Caroling Festival, beating out collegiate and semi-professional ensembles to claim the title. He performs regularly, directing the Sheffield Messiah Choir, The Albany Gay Men’s Chorus, and assistant directing the Cantilena Chamber Choir.
Prince George’s County Public Schools – Priscilla Coleman is a music educator and composer (ASCAP). She holds a B.M.Ed. from Howard University (1985) and a M.S.Ed. with a concentration in music from Bowie State University (2002), where her thesis was a case study on musical literacy. Ms. Coleman has taught grades K-12 for 27 years in the District of Columbia and in Prince George’s County Public Schools, and currently teaches at High Point High School. She has implemented Arts Integration and child centered strategies in her instruction.
Ms. Coleman has served as mentor teacher, adjudicator for choral festivals in the state of Maryland, and presenter at the Maryland Music Educator’s Conference.
Ms. Coleman conducted her composition “Gloria” in 2012 as Director of Prince George’s County High School Honors Chorus. Her compositions have been performed at the National Harbor, the John F. Kennedy Center, and at county, state, and national festivals.
South Kingstown Public Schools – Jennifer Collins is a freelance trumpeter and arranger from Rhode Island. She currently teaches band and general music to 350 middle school students in South Kingstown Public Schools.
Jenny earned her B.M. and M.M. with high distinction from URI and then studied Kingian Nonviolence. For 20 years, she was grant writer, arranger, and musical director for GEAR Productions. GEAR (Give Everyone a Role) is a theater company that creates and produces original musical plays and welcomes all students in the cast. Jenny served on arts grant panels for RI State Council on the Arts, and facilitated the Arts Educator Evaluation Project for her district. Recently she submitted a grant that partners URI music majors with instrumental students in a music mentoring program.
Jenny is most delighted by her three grown children, all amazing people. She sings alto in the Chorus of Westerly, practices kundalini yoga, and loves swimming in the ocean.
Washington County Public Schools – Mark Collins is a twenty-seven year veteran in instrumental music education and teaches at John S. Battle High School in Bristol, VA. He completed undergraduate studies at Tennessee Tech University, an M.Ed. at Milligan College, and an Education Specialist degree in administration from Lincoln Memorial University. Mr. Collins studied percussion with Joseph Rasmussen and Joe Morrello and composition with Robert Jager and Aaron Copland.
His music ensembles consistently receive the highest awards in concert and marching performance, with individual students receiving multiple national awards. In addition to serving public education, he is an adjunct percussion professor at UVA College at Wise. Mr. Collins is a consultant for higher education curriculum and design and has presented at research conferences. He remains active as a performer, clinician, lecturer, adjudicator, and the CEO of Innovative Band Camps – a company dedicated to providing workshops to teachers and students in rural communities.
Marion County Public Schools – Sondra Allison Wenninger Collins is currently a music educator at Romeo Elementary School in Dunnellon, FL. In the past four years under her leadership, Romeo has presented more than thirty performances for families, community members, and School Board members, including Marion Elementary Music Festivals and All-County Elementary Honor Choir events. Collins is President of the Marion County Music Association and a member of NAfME, FMEA, FEMEA, and AOSA.
Collins has been a featured guest columnist in local media, including her most recent article “Diminishing music education…” (Ocala Star Banner, February 2013). In 2010-2011 Sondra Collins was honored as Romeo’s Rookie Teacher of the Year and a finalist for Marion County. Collins holds an M.M. from Georgia State University and a B.M. from the University of Florida. Collins is an alumna of La Musica Lirica Opera (Italy), Harrower Summer Opera, and Sigma Alpha Iota.
Marple Newtown School District – Larysa Dragonetti graduated Immaculata University with degrees in Music Education, Elementary Education, and Music Therapy. She received her Orff Certification from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and her Masters from Cabrini College. She has been an elementary music teacher at the Marple Newtown School District in Pennsylvania for the last fifteen years. Prior to her current position she worked as a director of recreational therapy, music therapist, private music instructor, and performer.
Larysa is happily married to John, a university music professor and entrepreneur, and has two wonderful children: Alex, who is studying Music Performance, Music Education, and Elementary Education at West Chester University, and Dianna, who is a high school senior.
Atlanta Public Schools – William J. Earvin is in his thirteenth year of teaching music. He is currently the Director of Bands at Benjamin E. Mays High School in Atlanta, GA. At Mays, the Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, Jazz Orchestra, and Marching Band continuously earn superior ratings and outstanding performance awards. While working with his high school students every day, Earvin is the Lead Band Instructor for the Atlanta Public Schools and a Master Teacher for the ArtsAPS program. He is also the District 5 Chair for the Georgia Music Educators Association. Earvin and his wife Tamesha are the proud parents of three wonderful children: William Jarrett Jr., Alexandra White, and Crista Simone.
School District of Clayton – Jerry Estes teaches in the School District of Clayton, a suburb of St. Louis, MO, where he has been a middle school vocal music teacher for 33 years. He earned his B.M.Ed. from Southwest Baptist University, and his M.M. from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. He has over 150 choral compositions in print with various national publishers. He lives in St. Charles, MO with his wife, Julie, and his two children, Haley and Baxter.
Caddo Parish Public Schools – Krista Fanning is in her 23rd year of teaching, and was recently chosen as the Caddo Middle Magnet Teacher of the Year. While Mrs. Fanning’s sense of humor is well known by students, she is very serious about the role of collaboration and the use of music across the curriculum. Mrs. Fanning is also a frequent contributor to local in-service events as a presenter about using technology in the music classroom.
Geneva Community Unit School District 304 – Jason Flaks serves as director of bands at both middle schools in Geneva, IL. In high school and college, Flaks toured the U.S. and Europe with groups ranging in musical style from classical to punk rock and ska. He received his B.A. in music education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and earned his M.M.Ed. at Northwestern University. He continues to perform throughout the Chicago area as a freelance trumpet player. He is also the conductor of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra Brass Choir, where he just celebrated his 15th anniversary. He lives in Geneva with his wife Chrissa and their twin four year old daughters Ellie and Viv.
Red Clay Consolidated School District – Leslie Grant holds an M.M. in Vocal Performance and a B.A. in Music Education from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She currently teaches General and Choral Music at Brandywine Springs School in Wilmington, DE (K-8). Voted Teacher of the Year in 1997, Ms. Grant is certified in both Kodály and Orff applications of music education. In 2003, Delaware Symphony named her recipient of the Jesse Ball DuPont Award for her significant impact in the field of music education. In 2005, Ms. Grant achieved National Board Certification, specializing in Early Childhood Music Education (ages 3-14). From 2003-2007, she acted as both Asst. Director and Director of Music Education for the Wilmington Children’s Chorus. Ms. Grant has helped develop student state assessments as a reflection of teacher evaluation. In 2011-2012, she conducted in-depth action research relative to music centers and the Reggio Emilia education approach.
Greenville County Schools – Ginger Greer is a violinist and conductor from Greenville, SC. A National Board Certified Instrumental Music teacher, Mrs. Greer teaches at Riverside Middle School and serves as the lead string teacher for Greenville County. She conducts the Repertory Orchestra and serves as string coach for the Carolina Youth Symphony as well as working with the Greenville County Schools orchestra system.
Mrs. Greer is a graduate of Boston University and the University of South Carolina. At USC, she was trained in string pedagogy through the nationally acclaimed String Project.
She has served as guest conductor/clinician for All Region Orchestras in Charleston and Spartanburg and as adjudicator for the SC Concert Festival. She serves on the executive board of the SC Music Educators Association, and is an active member of the American String Teachers Association.
She resides in Greer, SC with her husband Todd and three children.
Yarmouth School District – Kimberly Grover has been teaching music for twenty-one years. She began her career in Fairfax County, VA and has taught the last seventeen years in Yarmouth, ME, where she has instructed music at the 9-12, 5-8 and K-1 levels. Kimberly currently has 276 students who elect to participate in one of her six choral ensembles. These students represent over 60% of the student body.
Kimberly has served as vocal director of the high school musicals for the last fifteen years and has fulfilled the role of Team Leader for the Unified Arts educators for the past two years. Beyond her school responsibilities, Kimberly is the regional District II Honors Chorus Manager and serves as Teacher Mentor to music education students from the University of Southern Maine.
Kimberly loves her job and each year finds herself more passionate about music and teaching, motivating, and inspiring children.
Austin Independent School District – Mark Gurgel graduated from Indiana University Bloomington with a B.M. in Music Education. He holds an M.M.Ed. from Texas State University – San Marcos and has completed post-graduate work in Educational Leadership at Texas State University. Mr. Gurgel is in his twenty-first year as Head Band Director of Kealing Middle School in the Austin ISD.
Mr. Gurgel serves as Vice President of the Region 18 TMEA. His additional musical affiliations include Texas Bandmasters Association, Texas Music Adjudicators Association, and the National Band Association.
Under Mr. Gurgel’s direction, The Kealing Wind Ensemble performed in Chicago at The Midwest Clinic in December 2010 and was a National Winner in the Mark of Excellence National Wind Band Honors in fall 2011. The Kealing Band Program was awarded the John Philip Sousa Foundation Sudler Silver Cup in spring 2012.
Lakewood City Schools – Elizabeth Hankins began pursuing her Ph.D. in Music Education at Case Western Reserve University in fall 2010. She has a B.Mus.Ed from Oberlin Conservatory and an M.A.Ed from Baldwin Wallace College. She began teaching in the Lakewood City Schools in 1990. She has taught orchestra in grades 5-12, music theory, and music history. She currently directs five orchestras at Lakewood High School, which consistently receive the highest ratings in state adjudicated events.
Ms. Hankins is the founding director of The Lakewood Project, an innovative rock orchestra teaching all students a lifelong love of music. As Director of The Lakewood Project, she has taken her unique expertise to the International May Day Conference, the American String Teachers Association, and the Ohio Music Education Association. Ms. Hankins continues to explore the use of alternative string styles in the public school setting.
Marion Independent School District – Sarah Jones teaches JK-2 general music at Emerson Elementary in the Marion Independent School District. Sarah currently serves as her district’s Performing Arts Council facilitator, Vertical Music Team leader, District Leadership Team participant, and Core Curriculum Leadership Team member. Previous teaching positions have included choral methods at the University of Iowa, high school vocal music at Marion High School, choral conducting and vocal pedagogy at the University of Kansas, and elementary/middle school music in Ankeny, IA. Ms. Jones received her B.M. in music education from the University of Northern Iowa and M.M.E. in Choral Pedagogy from the University of Kansas. In October, Sarah will present her work with assessment and Iowa Core at the NAfME Annual In-Service Conference in Nashville.
New Haven Public Schools – Judith Kramer Koret holds a B.F.A. and Teacher Certification from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, an M.M. in Flute and Kodály certification from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, a Kodály Certificate from the Kodály Musical Training Institute, and a 6th Year Classroom Specialist Certificate from Southern CT State University.
Judy joined the Dr. Alexander Fellowship Team, a group of Kodály trained teachers piloting and implementing the Kodály Concept in the New Haven Public Schools in September 1979. When the funding ended, she stayed with several others to continue the philosophy of Zoltán Kodály. Judy currently teaches K-8 music at Clinton Avenue School in New Haven and plays flute in the Hamden Symphony Orchestra and flute/piccolo in the Augusta Curtis Band in Meriden. In her free time, she enjoys bowling and playing mah jongg.
Rankin County School District – Amy Lee is a choral director and vocal coach from Florence, MS. An accomplished pianist and vocalist, she developed an award-winning choral program at Richland High School, a large Title I school in the third largest district in the state. She initiated an after-hours mentoring program to help students boost ACT scores and prepare for scholarship auditions. She also supervised a Night Out program to develop dinner and theatre etiquette skills, involving over four hundred students and incorporating a charity to provide appropriate dress clothes for disadvantaged students.
During her eleven years as a music educator, she also taught English, theatre, and visual arts, and co-authored a five-year arts grant to infuse music and local artists into the curriculum, culminating in the Governor’s Arts Award for the district.
Amy Lee earned a B.A. in K-12 music education and a B.A. in graphic design at Mississippi College.
Amy was one of two Distinguished Music Educators selected from the state of Mississippi in 2013, the first Symposium attendees from that state.
Newtown Public Schools – Christopher M. Lee has taught music theory and music technology at Newtown High School since 2004. His courses have sparked keen interest in music composition, marked by frequent student premieres and annual reading sessions devoted to the presentation of student work. This year, Chris was invited by the College Board’s Advanced Placement program to serve a second year on the national scoring team for the AP Music Theory exam.
Chris received his undergraduate degree from the University of Rhode Island and earned an M.M. in Composition from the Yale School of Music. He remains active as a composer and has enjoyed commissions and performances throughout the region. Recently his composition “Prelude and Groove” appeared as the title track on a 2012 CD release by the brass group Alchemy, and his choral work “Sunrise Along Shore” was featured at the 2013 Westfield Festival of New Music (MA).
Conservatory Lab Charter School – Rebecca Levi graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Comparative Literature (Italian and English) in 2007. From 2007-2009, she lived in Urubamba, Peru, working in a home for abused children and teaching music and English classes. In 2009, she was chosen as a member of the inaugural group of Abreu Fellows at New England Conservatory and spent the year studying the El Sistema youth orchestra model in Boston, Los Angeles, and Venezuela.
In 2010, she co-founded the El Sistema music program at the Conservatory Lab Charter School, a public charter elementary school in Boston. She has directed the program since then, teaching pre-K and kindergarten general music and conducting the beginner string orchestra. In addition, she has developed a pre-orchestra program for kindergartners called “Paper Orchestra,” inspired by El Sistema in Venezuela. She plays piano, flute and guitar.
Santa Ana Unified School District – Eileen Maeda has been an elementary music teacher in Santa Ana, CA for the past 15 years. Her classes include 1st-3rd grade general music and MIND piano keyboard, 3rd grade recorder, 4th-6th grade band and orchestra, and 5th-6th grade chorus. She is part of a pilot program collaboration between SAUSD, Pacific Symphony (Orange County), and after-school program Think Together that offers additional after-school violin instruction to 4th-5th graders.
She has trained in Kodály, Dalcroze and Orff-Schulwerk, for which she has served for six years as co-president of the Orange County Orff Chapter. She is a teacher trainer for SouthCAP, The California Arts Project, and the OC Arts Advantage. Her volunteer activities include the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
Bainbridge Island School District – Paul Meehan has been a music educator for 20 years, ranging from K-6 general music, middle school general music and marimba ensembles, beginning band, middle school bands, and high school band, choir, and jazz band. He currently teaches on Bainbridge Island, WA, where he has been for ten years. In that time, he has developed highly successful programs teaching and leading students in the building and tuning of marimbas. His students perform locally and around the region, supporting community events, helping to start marimba programs in other schools, and raising awareness and funds for special causes. They have travelled to Nicaragua to perform, build, and teach marimbas and establish a marimba school, and have built and sent marimbas to boarding schools in Uganda. Paul enjoys connecting with his students through music and empowering them to change lives with their passion and love for music.
Longview School District – Brian Mitchell, a third generation music educator, has been teaching music in the Longview School District since 1995. He currently teaches choir at Mark Morris High School and is the district music coordinator. Brian has been an active member of the music community as a conductor and clinician, and is currently serving on the Washington State board of the American Choral Directors Association. He and his wife Jenny, a 4th grade teacher, both enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and are both active amateur photographers.
Randolph Township Schools – Mr. Tom Murphy has been a public school instrumental teacher in NJ for 25 years. He enjoys teaching 5th-12th grade students. He has been nominated for Ocean County Teacher of the Year and was named Sallie Mae Teacher of the Year and Governor Teacher of the Year. He earned his B.S. in Music Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and his M.M.Ed. from Ithaca College. His percussion background includes study with marimba virtuoso Gordon Stout and a two-month study in Siena, Italy.
Mr. Murphy is co-author of the recently published “100 Days to Sight Reading Excellence.” He has been a director with American Music Abroad for more than 20 years. Tom and his wife Maura enjoy their busy lives with their two young children, Hannah and Eli.
Asheville City Schools – Ruben started playing the violin at his Junior High School in NYC and later attended and graduated from the High School of Music and Art in NYC. He studied at NC School of the Arts and The Peabody Conservatory, and holds a B.A. from Mars Hill College in NC. Music opened many doors for Ruben, including a rewarding career in Music Education for the past 27 years in Asheville, NC. He teaches strings at Asheville High and Asheville Middle School and is also musically active in his community. Ruben is a violinist with the Asheville Symphony and plays a blend of Latin jazz and rock with his band, Picante.
Corona-Norco Unified School District – Kris Parish is the founding director of the Santiago High School BOSS (Bands Of Santiago Sharks) in Corona, CA. He has developed the instrumental program from 29 students in 1995 to its current 230 members. His award-winning concert, marching, and jazz bands have been selected to perform across the nation, including Carnegie Hall, Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials in Washington, D.C., and the 2013 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.
Mr. Parish has performed professionally on trumpet with Burt Bacharach, Natalie Cole, Chris Botti, Bob James, David Benoit, Pat Boone, and BJ Thomas, among other notable musicians. He has directed several honor bands and is an adjudicator for concert and parade bands throughout Southern California. Mr. Parish leads worship and plays keyboards at Beacon Hill Assembly of God, where his wife, René, is senior pastor.
Oklahoma City Public Schools – Mr. Pourtorkan received both his B.A. in Music Education and his M.M. in Performance with emphasis in Conducting from the University of Central Oklahoma. He has been performing since 2003 with the Fort Smith Philharmonic. He currently teaches at Classen School of Advanced Studies, where his orchestras continually achieve superior ratings and sweepstakes awards year after year. Mr. Pourtorkan was awarded Classen’s Teacher of the Year Award for the 2011-2012 school year and was Oklahoma City’s First Runner-Up for District Teacher of the Year. Mr. Pourtorkan lives in Edmond, OK with his wife Cara and two boys, Ethan and Shawn.
Woodstock Community Unit School District 200 – Paul J. Rausch, in his 28th year at Woodstock High School, received his B.S. in Music Education from the University of Illinois and an M.M.Ed. from VanderCook College of Music in Chicago. He’s the WHS Fine Arts Division Chair and the District 200 Music Curriculum Area Specialist. Paul is a member of NAfME, ACDA, and the AFT and served as president of the Woodstock Council of Teachers. He’s a studio musician and choral conductor for many recordings from OCP and GIA Publications and had one of his Christmas songs published by GIA. His choirs have consistently received superior ratings at state contests and have performed throughout Europe, Mexico, and the United States. WHS choirs have been featured at the IL-ACDA Fall Conference, the IMEA Mid-West Regional Conference and the IMEA All-State Music Conference. He and his wife Donna are the proud parents of four fine young men.
Round Rock Independent School District – Tracey Redus is in her ninth year as head band director at Chisholm Trail Middle School and her sixteenth year teaching in Round Rock ISD. She received her B.M.Ed. in 1990 and her M.S. in Music in 1992 from Radford University in Virginia. She studied clarinet with Dr. Norman Todenhoft and conducting with Mark Camphouse. Prior to coming to Chisholm Trail, Mrs. Redus was assistant band director with the award-winning Grisham Middle School Band. She also served four years in the United States Navy Band as a clarinet/saxophone/vocal performer with various groups.
Mrs. Redus is the mother of two boys: Kenny, age 10, and Timothy, age 7. Since the passing of her husband, Wayne this February from brain cancer she is a strong advocate for brain cancer research. Wayne was a constant source of encouragement and support during her education career.
Anderson School District Four – Sarah Reese, former principal artist for the Metropolitan Opera, has performed throughout the US and abroad. She was the soprano soloist on the Grammy winning recording “Prayers of Kierkegaard” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Reese made her Carnegie Hall debut with the American Composers Orchestra and was artist in residence with the Opera Company of Boston for over 15 years. Reese performed the roles of Madama Butterfly with the Company, Mimi in La Boheme, Violetta in La Traviata, The Verdi Requiem, Musetta, and Micaela in the opera Carmen, and was invited to present a command performance at the Bolshoi Theatre.
A favorite soprano of conductor Herbert Von Karajan, Sarah was hired to sing The Brahms Requiem solos with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. She soared vocally at The Proms concerts in London, England for Radio France, which was heard by over a million listeners.
Marana Unified School District – Sarah Ross is in her sixth year as choir director at Marana High School in Tucson, AZ, where she teaches four levels of choir, voice, and musical theatre. In 2011, she was named the University of Arizona/Circle K Teacher of the Year; in 2012 she was recognized as Teacher of the Year for the Marana Unified School District. Sarah specializes in ethnic and multicultural music and serves as the Repertoire and Standards Chair for the Arizona chapter of the American Choral Directors Association. Sarah has served on various academic intervention committees at her school and is currently the system administrator for a school-wide academic advisory program.
Gulfport School District – Nancie Simmons graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in Piano Pedagogy and Music Education. She has received a Masters degree in Elementary Education and has twice completed the requirements for National Board Certification in Early and Middle Childhood Music. She has been teaching Elementary General Music to K-5th grade students for over 16 years, mainly in public schools on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She is currently the Elementary Division President of her state music organization, MMEA.
She has been awarded several grants to supplement her music program that have provided her children opportunities to view professional performances at school. She enjoys planning programs and lessons for her children to make music and use their music skills in relevant situations. She strives to keep growing as an educator by trying new ideas and by attending workshops. She is married and has one daughter.
Nancie was one of two Distinguished Music Educators selected from the state of Mississippi in 2013, the first Symposium attendees from that state.
Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District – Matthew Sisia is the Director of Bands at Oyster Bay High School where he conducts the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and Pit Orchestra and advises the Tri-M Honor Society. Currently a doctoral student at the Hartt School, Mr. Sisia holds degrees from Pennsylvania State University and The Crane School of Music.
Mr. Sisia has held positions as both the Associate Conductor of Bands and adjunct professor in music education at Long Island University. He is the founder and director of the New York Chamber Ensemble and serves on the executive board of the New York State Band Directors Association. Mr. Sisia is a member of the College Band Directors National Association, the National Association for Music Education, and the Nassau Music Educators Association.
Linn-Mar Community School District – Steve Stickney has been the Director of Bands at Linn-Mar High School since 2004. A native of Cedar Rapids, IA, Steve earned his B.M.Ed. and M.M.Ed. from The University of Iowa, and has completed over 45 hours of post-graduate work at The University of Iowa, Illinois State University, Seattle Pacific University, and Northwestern University as a summer Fellows recipient. During the summer of 2003, Steve traveled to Japan as a Fulbright Memorial Fund Scholar.
Steve’s professional affiliations include the Iowa Bandmasters Association, Northeast Iowa Bandmasters Association, Iowa Music Educators Association, and the Jazz Educators of Iowa. He has served as President of the Iowa Unit of the International Association of Jazz Educators, President of the Southeast Iowa Bandmasters Association, President of the Iowa Bandmasters Association, and currently chairs the Iowa Bandmasters Association Concert Band Affairs committee.
Hibbing Public Schools – Patti Stoddard is currently the elementary music specialist for 1300 students in three schools in Hibbing, MN, after twenty-one years directing senior high school choirs. She also conducts the Hibbing Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Temple (SATB div.) Choir. Patti holds an M.M. in choral conducting from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
To motivate and to inspire excellence, Patti and her music students have partnered to perform for more than forty regional businesses and senior centers, and for: Chanticleer, VocalEssence, the London Haberdashers Aske Choirs, the Venice Church of San Stae, the Paris Sainte-Chapelle, the Holy Cross Parish, Charleville, Ireland; St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin; the United Nations, NYC; St. Olaf College, and with St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, NYC; the Salzburg Cathedral Choir and Orchestra, and the Minnesota Orchestra.
Lincoln Public Schools – Michael Swartz studied applied double bass with Oscar Zimmerman at the Eastman School of Music. He received his B.M.E. and Masters in Secondary Administration from the University of Nebraska and is in his thirtieth year teaching 4-12 strings and orchestra in Lincoln Public Schools. In addition to his public school teaching, he maintains an active double bass studio, is principal bassist in Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, and plays in the Omaha Symphony Orchestra.
A strong believer in music as a medium for community service, he has been the “Captain” and leader for the SAIL (Strings Alliance in Lincoln) Summer Music Camp, serving over 350 students annually and now in its twenty-ninth year. He is a past president of Nebraska ASTA, received the Nebraska ASTA 2009 Outstanding Music Educator award, and is an “Admiral” in the mythical Navy of the Great State of Nebraska.
Cleveland City Schools – Siema Bailey Swartzel loves to share her passion for music. She is a 1983 graduate of Lee University with a B.M.E., where she studied voice with Virginia Horton. She has taught elementary to undergraduate music. During her career, she has relentlessly sought out ways to provide opportunities for her students, and is an avid grant writer. She is currently the Music Specialist for Arnold Memorial Elementary School and directs a 50 voice student choir, a lively Trash Can Band, and an Orff ensemble. She is National Board Certified in Early Childhood Music. Other distinctions include school and county Teacher of the Year as well as serving as a writer for music education standards for her state. She is inspired every day by her three children, Joel, Olivia and Aubrey, and her husband of 27 years, Lyle, and is proud to share this accomplishment with her students and colleagues past and present.
Webster Central School District – Amanda Tierson has been teaching public school for 29 years at both the elementary and senior high levels. She is the Music Lead Teacher at Webster Schroeder High School where she currently teaches Wind Ensemble and 9th Grade Band. She also enjoys teaching Music Education Practicum, a course for high school students who wish to become music educators, and mentoring student teachers.
Ms. Tierson earned her M.A. in Music Education from Eastman School of Music, and B.M.Ed. from the University of Northern Colorado. In addition to teaching, she serves on the Board of the Monroe County School Music Association as the Senior High Solo Festival Coordinator. She also served on the Editorial Board for the Music Educators Journal where she reviewed articles from 2008-2012. Ms. Tierson is committed to enriching students’ lives by developing an understanding of music, and creating positive, memorable, musical experiences.
Bergenfield Public Schools – Brian P. Timmons is the District Music Coordinator for the Bergenfield Public Schools and Director of Bands at Bergenfield High School. He directs the Honors Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, and Marching Band, and teaches AP Music Theory and brass lessons.
Now in his fifteenth year teaching, he completed his B.M. in classical performance and music education at William Paterson University, studying conducting and trumpet with Dr. J. Craig Davis, and his M.A. in wind conducting at Hofstra University, studying with Dr. Peter Loel Boonshaft. He served as president of the Music Educators of Bergen County from 2010-2012 and serves on the Board of Trustees for the North Jersey Band Festival.
A graduate of the Bergenfield Public Schools, he proudly continues to reside in Bergenfield with his wife Megan, an arts administrator, and daughters Kaleigh and Alanna and son Declan.
Fairbanks North Star Borough School District – Liesl Wietgrefe graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a degree in Music Education in the fall of 2003. She completed her student teaching in Fairbanks, AK soon after her husband was stationed there with the US Army. Liesl took the music position at Randy Smith Middle School the following year and taught Jazz Band, Concert Band, Choir, Orchestra, and World Drumming. In the fall of 2008, Liesl was hired as the band and steel drum director at West Valley High School. While working there, she has taught Jazz Band, Symphonic Band, Concert Band, and Steel Drums. Liesl enjoys performing with various ensembles around town and accompanying her church choir in her free time. Liesl has three daughters ages 6, 4, and 1; a husband; and a dog.
Northwestern Regional School District No.7 – Stephen Zimmerman is currently in his 15th year at Northwestern High School where he serves as Music Department Chair and teaches band, guitar, and music theory. His ensembles have earned numerous sweepstakes awards at festivals, and the Northwestern Wind Ensemble has performed at the CT State Music Educators Convention three times under his direction. In 2011 he earned Northwestern’s Striving For Excellence Award, and he was named the 2012 CMEA Secondary Educator of the Year. He is the founder and chairperson for the Northern Region Youth Honor Band and Flute Choir as well as the founder of the Litchfield County Band Festival.
Mr. Zimmerman regularly guest conducts and presents professional development sessions on music literacy and instrumental music assessment throughout the northeastern US. He lives in Burlington, CT with his wife, Kate and two daughters: Paige, age 8, and Lauren, age 4.