Staff

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INTERIM DIRECTOR

BETH RAY

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.

 


PIANO INSTRUCTORS

GLORIA SUSANNE GILMER, NCTM

Tuesdays  

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.

LAURIE JONES

Mondays and Tuesdays

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 on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, and is currently training to teach Kindermusik in the spring.     

Piano and Guitar

Michael Steele

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

Tuesday and Thursday

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).


VOICE INSTRUCTOR

Laurie Jones

Mondays and Tuesdays

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.


DRUMS/PERCUSSION INSTRUCTOR

Mike McGuire

Mondays

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

KATY HALL

Mondays and Thursdays 

Katy Hall is a certified teacher with a degree in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education. After years of teaching in Shelby County Schools, Katy is thrilled to devote her life to teaching dance and taking care of her 2 children. Katy has always loved children and enjoys sharing her talents with them. Katy has 22 years of dance training and experience. She trained in tap, ballet and jazz with a focus on ballet and pointe. She has been in numerous performances and competitions including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. While serving as captain and choreographer of her high school’s dance team, Katy was awarded the title of Universal Dance Association All Star. Katy has choreographed many routines for dance teams, as well as solos for girls participating in pageants. Katy has taught at a local dance studio for the past eleven years. She continues her dance education by attending professional workshops and conventions.  She teaches ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and tumbling. Katy resides in Chelsea with her husband, Nate, and her sons, Nolan and Christian.

Laurel Gilchrist

Tuesdays

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.  

CECILIA FIELD

Tuesdays

Cecilia Field is a student at Samford University. She is currently working on a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Worship Leadership. Cecilia has been dancing for 11 years and is a former student of the School of Performing Arts. She took ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop with Katy Hall. Cecilia also studied at the Kansas City School of Ballet and the Louisville School of Ballet. With a passion for dance, music, and children, she has taken every opportunity to teach dance or music. Due to all of her dance experience, she was given the honor of choreographing her high school musical for 2 consecutive years. At Samford, she is on the leadership team for Grace Dance Ministry, where she leads bible studies, choreographs, teaches dance, and ministers to fellow students. Cecilia is looking forward to sharing her love of dance with others!