MS Dance Facilitator: Natalia Luna, Lamar MS Dance
Natalia Luna is the current Director of Dance at the Lamar Middle School and Fine Arts Academy and the Director of the Lamar Dance Company. Luna has a Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theatre Direction and a Minor in Costume Design from San Francisco State University. Luna has been teaching with the Austin Independent School District at Lamar Middle School and Fine Arts Academy for 7 years. Luna is currently The Fine Arts Chair for Lamar Middle School, a UTeach cooperating teacher, and is part of the AISD new teacher mentoring program. She is very proud of each and every one of her students for their professionalism and continued commitment to their dance education. She looks forward to continuing to serve AISD MS Dance Directors!
HS Dance Facilitator: Jackie Martinez, Travis EHCS Dance
Jackie Martinez grew up in Austin, TX, and graduated from William B. Travis HS. While at Travis, Jackie was a member of the Rebelette Dance Team and held the position of Captain during her junior and senior years. Jackie graduated from Southwest Texas State University with a bachelor's degree in dance education. While attending SWT, she was a member of Strutters and performed for several programs within the dance department. Jackie began her career teaching dance at Mendez Middle School in 2004, then was named Dance Director for the Travis Rebelettes, where she continues to teach today. She is very excited to be named the Facilitator for High School Dance and is ready to jump in and serve her Fine Arts dance teacher family.
MS Theatre Facilitator: Erica Vallejo, Covington MS Theatre
Erica Vallejo is in her 10th year of teaching in Austin ISD. She has her BFA in Theatre Education from Texas State University. She began her career at Akins High school where she taught English for 2 years and Theatre for 5 years. While at Akins she also served as a mentor teacher and class sponsor. She then made the switch to middle school and in 2019 began teaching theatre at Covington Middle School Fine Arts Academy. While at Covington she has served on the CP&I Cadre, SEL Cadre, Principal Selection Committee, and was a 2023 Teacher of the Year finalist. She is excited to serve as the MS Theatre Facilitator!
HS Theatre Facilitator: Annie Dragoo, Austin HS Theatre
Annie Dragoo began teaching and directing in 1993 and is finishing her 19th year in Austin ISD (Austin High School). She holds a BA in English and Speech Communication with a Concentration in Theatre Studies from Houston Christian University. Her master's work is being done at the University of Colorado. In the summer of 2008, she was granted a scholarship to study in residency at the Globe Theatre in London and has trained for several years with the Broadway Teaching Lab in New York. Annie began the musical theatre program at Austin High in 2004, and in that time has directed 27 productions and 30 musicals in the last 20 years. Dragoo co-directed 6 UIL One-Act Play productions that have qualified for the 5A & 6A State Contest, winning the State Championship in 2012 and 2nd place in 2017 & 2018. She won the Alma Slawinski Leadership Award from Texas Thespians. In 2018, Annie was named Austin High School Teacher of the Year and was selected as the K-12 Texas Theatre Educator of the Year. She looks forward to collaborating and working with AISD Theatre Departments!
HS Choir Facilitator: David Beussman, Anderson HS Choir
David Beussman is currently in his 15th year as Choir Director at Anderson High School. Prior to his current position, he taught middle school choir in the Austin ISD for 12 years (9 of those at Murchison). He received his Bachelor of Music Degree from Luther College in Decorah, IA where he was a member of the Nordic Choir for three years and studied under Weston Noble. David is a member of ACDA, TMEA and TCDA. Recently, he took on two additional positions: moving forward, he will be the Fine Arts Facilitator for Choir in AISD and the tenor section leader at Lakeway Church. He has four beautiful daughters, a Graduate Student at the University of Cincinnati, a Human Resources Recruiter for Bell in Fort Worth, a third grader and a 5-year-old, and just celebrated the eleven-year anniversary of being married to the love of his life.
MS Choir Facilitator: Crystle Taylor, Murchison MS Choir
Crystle Taylor is in her sixth year of teaching and choir directing at Murchison Middle School. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Concord University. She attended all AISD schools from Elementary through High School and is dedicated to providing great vocal experiences and opportunities for the next generation. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging with her family and friends, as well as making music in various bands and groups throughout the community. She is looking forward to stepping in this new role as the AISD Middle School Choir Facilitator.
ES Music Facilitator: Meredith Riggs, Blackshear Elementary
Meredith Riggs has been teaching elementary music in Austin ISD for 16 years. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, as well as being certified in both Kodaly and Orff. Meredith has served as the mentor to new to AISD music teachers for many years as well as hosting student teachers from the University of Texas and Huston Tillotson University. She has presented professional development across the state of Texas, and at OAKE national conferences. On her campus she is the Lead Mentor Teacher and PPfT contact. She enjoys learning from her peers and looks forward to building community among her fellow music teachers.
ES Music Facilitator: Derek Tarnow, Blazier Elementary - Primary Site
Derek Tarnow has been an elementary music specialist in Austin ISD since 2019 and currently teaches at Blazier Elementary School. Derek graduated from Texas State University in 2009 cum laude with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance on guitar and continued on to perform professionally in many styles of music as well as servings as band leader and arranger for various projects. He also taught private guitar, bass, and piano lessons to children and adults of all ages. Derek is finishing his Kodály Level III Certification this summer through Hays CISD. Derek believes music is every subject all at once, therefore, music education supports students’ success in all areas, academically and socially.
ES Music Facilitator: Roxie Garza, Davis Elementary
Roxie Garza has been a part of Austin ISD since her childhood, and is a proud product of the AISD Fine Arts Department, graduating from Crockett High School in 2001. She has 15 years of experience, with 11 of those years in AISD. She is currently one of the two full-time Music Specialists at Davis Elementary. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Hardin-Simmons University. She is passionate about creating community and strives to cultivate opportunities for teachers to strengthen their leadership skills. She believes in creating inclusive and compassionate learning environments for all students. Roxie enjoys teaching, learning and leading and is looking forward to growing in her role as Fine Arts Facilitator.
ES Music Facilitator: Dr. Lucas Shoppe, Davis Elementary
Lucas Schoppe has more than a decade of experience working with kindergarten–12th grade music students, preservice music teachers, and practicing music teachers. He is currently an elementary music teacher at Will Davis Elementary in Austin, Texas. Prior to his time in Austin, he worked with kindergarten–fifth grade general music students and secondary band students in Florence, Texas. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees in music education from Boston University and a bachelor’s degree in music education from Texas State University. His professional interests include empowerment in the elementary general music classroom through reimagining musical content and pedagogical processes in collaboration with students. His work has included an exploration of music-making through personalized and project/problem-based learning, transformative technology, and arts integration. He has presented his work to preservice and practicing music and general education teachers and administrators throughout the United States.
HS Art Facilitator: Elizabeth Hewitt, Liberal Arts & Science Academy
Elizabeth Hewitt has been teaching Art at the Liberal Arts & Science Academy for 14 years. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Texas and grew up in Austin attending AISD schools. She is passionate about finding the right structures, tools and scaffolding to support each student in their artistic journey. She is part of the new teacher mentoring program and greatly enjoys talking to teachers about their favorite projects and techniques for helping our students succeed. A master organizer, she loves collecting, compiling and curating resources. She is excited to serve the AISD Visual Arts team as a facilitator and looks forward to collaborating with the team.
MS Art Facilitator: Victoria Bailey, Bailey Middle School
Vicki Bailey is a passionate and dedicated middle school art teacher with over a decade of experience in the field. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Art in Studio Art from Texas State University and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Art Education at Texas Tech University.
In addition to her classroom teaching, Vicki serves as the Director for Jr VASE Region 13S, where she has demonstrated strong leadership skills and a commitment to supporting young artists. Vicki has a proven track record of supporting her fellow teachers, having organized art share and PLC meetings to foster collaboration and professional development among her colleagues. She is also adept at using Blend in the art room, leveraging technology to enhance student learning and streamline administrative tasks. Vicki's dedication to her students and the art education community is evident in all that she does. Her creative approach to teaching, strong leadership skills, and commitment to professional development make her an asset to our organization.
MS Art Facilitator: Linda Rank, Covington Middle School
Linda Rank grew up in the Midwest and attended the University of Nort Texas when she was 18 and has lived in Texas ever since. She has been an art teacher in AISD for 20 years with 15 years in elementary and five in middle school. She says, “Teaching art is the best job ever! I am inspired by the creative diversity in AISD.”
ES Art Facilitator: Carey Conner, Graham Elementary School
Carey Conner is an artist and a teacher, and values most that she is a learner, always seeking to understand the past, finding reasons to relish the present, and looking curiously and mostly optimistically toward the future. These periods of time are linked together within her. They are inseparable and serve as the source of inspiration in all that she undertakes. Her love of art as a form of expression as well as my years of experience teaching art as a means of understanding the world within and around us have helped her to treasure the intuition and insight that reside within us all. This allows even the firm unbelievers a road to travel with her. Carey’s interest in the insights of others also makes collaboration pivotal to her teaching. She believes collaborating with learners is thrilling, and listening to their insights is profound. There is always something for her to see that may have otherwise remained unseen or a path to explore with the potential of offering possibilities that she would have never imagined. Needless to say, she has met the most intuitive, caring, and provocative thinkers on her journey as a teacher.
ES Art Facilitator: Nicole Garry,
Davis Elementary School
Nicole Garry has served as a full-time art teacher at Davis Elementary in Austin ISD since 2001. She holds a BFA in Studio Art and Visual Arts Studies from The University of Texas at Austin and National Board Certification in Early Middle Childhood Art. In 2005 she was selected to participate in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher program, taking her to Japan for 3 weeks with 200 other US teachers to learn about Japanese culture and educational systems. She has been fortunate to participate in a study abroad program in Italy and a language immersion program in Mexico. In addition to connecting with students though cultural experiences, Mrs. Garry is skilled at leveraging technology in the art room to create personalized learning experiences for her students. She has served in many mentor and leadership roles in AISD, enjoys both teaching and learning and looks forward to growing in the role of Fine Arts Facilitator.
ES Art Facilitator: Elisabeth Wilborn, Lee Elementary School
Elisabeth Wilborn is a passionate educator and advocate. A mother of two creatives in Austin ISD, every aspect of her life connects to the arts. She has a BFA from Cornell University, and is currently pursuing National Board Certification in Early and Middle Childhood Art. She welcomes all conversations, questions, and solutions.
HS Band Facilitator: Ponder East, LASA HS Band
Ponder East began teaching general music and beginning band in January 1998 in Wylie, TX and then taught middle school band in Grapevine, TX from August 1998 – June 2001. He then moved to Austin, TX in August 2001 and began teaching private saxophone, clarinet, and flute lessons in the area. From 2003-2010, he taught as the part-time jazz band director at LBJ and LASA High Schools. Then, from 2006-2008, he also taught as the part-time band director at KIPP Austin College Prep. In 2011, he became a full-time band director at LBJ and LASA High Schools. In 2021, he became the associate band director at LASA High School. In 2022, he became the Director of Bands at LASA High School.
From 2003-2015, he co-founded and co-lead the Austin Jazz Project, a week-long summer jazz improvisation camp. Since 2017, he has been a member of the faculty at the Texas Jazz & Blues Camp.
In addition to teaching music, he has pursued a career as a professional musician, playing saxophone with many bands in the area, including recordings on more than 10 albums, and performances at SXSW, ACL, Utopia Music Festival, One World Theater, House of Blues (Dallas and Houston), The Elephant Room, Parker Jazz, Monk’s, and more.
He and his wife Cristine have two boys, Kydan and River.
MS Band Facilitator: Michelle Devall, Kealing MS Band
Michelle DeVall is an experienced educator that has been teaching middle school band in Austin ISD since 2017. Under her direction, the Kealing Middle School Symphonic Band has earned top ratings at UIL Concert and Sight-Reading Evaluations and was recognized as a Commended Winner for the Citation of Excellence by the Foundation for Music Education.
Prior to teaching at Kealing, Mrs. DeVall taught band in Del Valle ISD and in Lee County (Florida). She is currently serving as the National Association for Music Education-Texas (NAfME-Texas) Advocacy Chair and as the Texas state representative on the NAfME Advocacy Leadership Force.
Mrs. DeVall is a National Board Certified Teacher who received a Master of Music and Human Learning Degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the Florida State University. She holds professional memberships in the National Association for Music Education, Texas Bandmasters Association, and Texas Music Educators Association. Outside of school, you can find her hiking in state and national parks, lifting weights at the gym, and biking around Austin.
HS Orchestra Facilitator: Ana Maria Solis-Herrera, Austin HS Orchestra
Ana Maria Solís-Herrera is the Director of Orchestras at Austin High School in the Austin Independent School District. Previously she was Director at O. Henry Middle School, Lamar Middle School, and McCallum High School. Mrs. Solís-Herrera holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Violin Performance and a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Texas at Austin. She has completed certifications in Suzuki Method and conducted workshops at the University of Texas.
Mrs. Solís-Herrera has performed internationally with several orchestras in Asia, Latin America, and the United States, including the Ehime University Orchestra in Matsuyama, Japan, the Carlos Chavez Symphony in Mexico City, and the Ohio Light Opera. Mrs. Solís-Herrera has been invited to speak at music educators conferences in Italy, Sweden, and Latin America on her research on the musical preferences of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the United States.
In Austin, Mrs. Solís-Herrera maintains a performance schedule with several chamber groups. She also teaches violin from her private studio at home. Many of her private students have placed in the Texas Music Educators Association All-Region and All-State Orchestras.
MS Orchestra Facilitator: Samantha Stewart, Bedichek MS Orchestra
Samantha Stewart has been the orchestra director at Bedichek Middle School for 10 years. In those 10 years, students have made All-Region Orchestra, received UIL sweepstakes for six years in a row and traveled to New York City to perform. She is a dedicated fundraiser and has raised thousands of dollars for students to take private lessons at school.
In addition to teaching, Samantha owns, operates and performs for the Sienna String Quartet in Austin, TX. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her two pups, Reilly & Jilly, training for triathlons and playing ultimate frisbee.
HS Guitar Facilitator: Susan Rozanc, Travis HS Guitar
Susan Rozanc is director of Guitar Ensembles, Orchestra, and Fine Arts Department Chair at William B. Travis Early College High School in Austin, Texas as well as serving as the AISD Fine Arts Facilitator for High School Guitar . She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and Music Performance, and a Master of Music in Music Education from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.
Ms.Rozanc has 28 years classroom teaching experience and is in her 13th year with Austin ISD. She has experience teaching many musical disciplines including band, choir, piano, musical theater, orchestra, music appreciation in addition to her experience in classical guitar ensemble. She has extensive experience teaching economically disadvantaged, inner city, and at-risk youth. She is the founding Secretary of the Texas Guitar Directors Association and serves currently as the organization’s Vice President. Her guitar students have performed at the 2018 National Conference for the National Association for Music Education, Brownsville Guitar Ensemble Competition, Hill Country Guitar Ensemble Competition, and numerous AISD events. Ms. Rozanc is passionate about empowering educators to pursue self care that makes a real lasting difference and encourages others to do the same.
MS Guitar Facilitator: Saul Hernandez-Trejo, Covington MS Guitar
Austin native Saul Hernandez-Trejo holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education from Texas State University. During his time at Texas State his studies were centered around classical guitar, choral music, and jazz. As an Educator, Mr. Hernandez-Trejo believes in fostering confidence and creativity in his students. Mr. Hernandez-Trejo currently directs the classical guitar program at Covington Middle School Fine Arts Academy in South Austin. In his free time, he enjoys performing music around town, running, and watching movies at Alamo Drafthouse.
HS/MS Mariachi Facilitator: Susana Diaz-Lopez, Akins HS Mariachi
Susana Diaz-Lopez is a graduate of Washburn University, where she pursued a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis in Education. Susana has been a part of many ensembles and performances like the Washburn University Wind Ensemble & Orchestra Principal French Horn Player, the Women of Music Concert (premier of Kristina Avila’s Guitar Work), a French Horn Performer for 12 years, a Classical Guitar Performer for seven years, the Washburn University Classical Guitar Studio and Topeka Community Guitar Ensemble and many more.
She has received awards and acknowledgments from the Charlie Chaplin 100th Anniversary Composition Competition and the Kansas Cathedral Church Brass Quintet Performance. Before receiving the Classical Guitar and Mariachi Director position at Akins High School, Susana had worked with Austin Classical Guitar as a private instructor and teacher. She has had the opportunity to work with the Education team of ACG with the Juvenile Justice Programs. Susana recently moved back to Texas in January 2021; however, she gained much experience in Topeka, Kansas, by working with many different programs and completing her student teaching at Topeka High School and Robinson Middle School. In Kansas, Susana has worked with the University of Child Development as a preschool assistant teacher, as a Private Instructor, as the Topeka Community Guitar Assistant Director, with AmeriCorps as a mentor for Ross Elementary, and at the YMCA as a teacher assistant. Through these experiences, Susana has evolved as a person and teacher.