Beth has a background in choral music, guitar and trumpet. She brings great energy and enthusiasm to the administrative side of SOPA having worked for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Hunter Street Baptist Church, UAB Medicine and Jefferson State Community College in various capacities. Her love for all things in worship arts will bring a new dynamic to our program. Her desire is to see students develop their God-given talents and gifts to glorify Him.
GLORIA SUSANNE GILMER, NCTM
Gloria Susanne Gilmer is a professional pianist, teacher, and composer. She has an extensive background in the performing arts, from directing and acting in musical theatre productions to teaching dance and arranging music for ballets. Susanne’s childhood studies in piano took place at Northwestern University Preparatory Division of Music. She obtained a B.A. in Music from Hope College and M.M. in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Southern Methodist University, where she was awarded a teaching fellowship. Her philosophy is that everyone is musical: with encouragement and clear directions, students can develop music skills. Susanne believes that frequent performance activities help children and adults to build self-confidence and poise while they develop their God given talents.
Mondays -Tuesdays – Thursdays
Laurie Jones is a certified k-12 music and ESL teacher. From childhood, she has loved music and has been blessed to perform over the years in various venues. While in college, she had the privilege to compete in two international choral competitions, singing with the Atlanta Ballet, and singing in Carnegie Hall with the Concert Singers from Ole Miss.
She has also loved performing and leading worship with her husband and family. She has enjoyed teaching in public and private schools for over 16 years and currently also teaches home school choir at Hope Christian School in Pelham.
She has a passion for teaching students to recognize their God-given talents and to learn to share their gifts with others as a part of their own ministry. Laurie works on the fundamentals of both voice and piano and specializes in focusing on building a good foundation for each student’s musical journey. She teaches voice and piano lessons.
Piano and Guitar
Monday – Tuesday – Thursday
Michael Steele is a music teacher who is passionate about music who teaches piano and guitar privately. He has been teaching in the classroom for 8 years, with emphasis on music theory, recorder, singing, and choir. Michael graduated from Oakwood University with Bachelors in Music Education, and believes that mediocrity is not acceptable, but that we must do our best for the master. He has also been a church musician from the age of 19 in his home country Barbados. He believes that every child has an ability to learn music once they put their minds to it.
VIOLIN and VIOLA INSTRUCTOR
Josephine Cox is a violin and viola teacher, earning her Masters in Music Performance from Memphis University in 2007. She has a variety of experience teaching children and adults of all ages, starting in 1999. In addition, Josephine is a professional ESL instructor and currently works as adjunct instructor at UAB teaching undergraduate and graduate international students in the Intensive English Program (INTO UAB).
Mondays -Tuesdays – Wednesdays – Thursdays
Laurie Jones is an Alabama certified k-12 vocal music and ESL teacher. She has loved teaching music over the past 16 years in private lessons and in the classroom. She currently teaches choir, voice, and piano at Hope Christian School in Pelham. She has a passion for teaching students to recognize their God-given talents and to learn to share their gifts with others. Laurie focuses on the fundamentals of both voice and piano to give students a good foundation on which to build. She teaches voice and piano lessons on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Mike began playing drums as a child and continued through high school and college with a scholarship. He took a small break from playing to work full time to support his family. After missing the fun of playing drums, he picked up the drumsticks again 25 years ago and took lessons to learn new techniques. He then began 8 years ago. He has been playing in praise and worship bands in various churches all over Birmingham. He teaches drum rudiments that are used in middle and high school bands, as well as drum set for praise and worship or rock bands. He has an enthusiasm in sharing his knowledge of percussion with anyone.
BALLET / TAP / JAZZ / RECREATIONAL GYMNASTICS INSTRUCTORS
Wednesdays and Fridays
Laurel attended her first dance class at 4 years old, and never looked back. She has 32 years of dance experience, and 18 years of teaching experience. She was a competitive dancer growing up and received many awards and accomplishments during this time including dancing in the 1999 Sugar Bowl Half time show. Laurel received an associate’s degree in Fine Arts in 2003, and went on to major in Theater at the University of Alabama. She began teaching dance at 18 years old, and in 2005 she opened her own studio, McCalla Academy of Dance. Although, now owned by her sisters, M.A.D. is in its 12th year of business, and Laurel is still very much involved. She is also a pre-k teacher at Grantswood Elementary School in Irondale and will soon begin pursuing a degree in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. Laurel and her husband, Billy reside in McCalla with their two children, Liam and Kate.