Arts Highlights

October Arts Highlights

Meet Heidi Taylor!

Heidi is our new Lower School music teacher, as well as the Middle and Upper School choral teacher. She is from Salt Lake City, Utah. Growing up, Heidi did a lot of touring and performing. She played roles that included Maria in The Sound of Music, and Cinderella, as well as various roles in numerous other performances. Heidi's background is in musical theater and this was her undergraduate focus.

In Utah, she owned and operated Singers Unlimited, a performing studio with an enrollment of 400 students. A large number of Heidi’s students performed in the High School Musical movies that were filmed in Salt Lake City. The studio toured and performed across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean. One of the highlights for Heidi was watching her students perform at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. In 2004, Singers Unlimited won the Best in State for Children’s Performing Group in Utah. It took a lot of work and a uniquely talented individual, like Heidi, to run it.

While Heidi was passionate about performing and touring, she decided to pursue the path of teaching after getting married and starting a family. Heidi and her husband both graduated from Brigham Young University, which is where they first met. They have two boys, one graduated from Atlee High School in 2017 and will be going to Brigham Young University after his church service mission in Honduras. Her younger son is in seventh grade and attends Chickahominy Middle School in Hanover.

Heidi and her family moved to the Richmond area about nine years ago. During her first few years in Richmond, Heidi taught at the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, where she was a part-time choral director. In 2012, Heidi took a full-time position at Saint Mary’s Catholic School.

This year, at Steward, Heidi feels that the creative energy in the Fine Arts Department is very strong and everyone is very good at what they do. Everyone is enthusiastic about their given discipline, as well as very skilled. Heidi says, “It is awesome to be in a team on which all have something great to contribute.” Heidi feels fortunate to have the opportunity to teach in all three divisions at Steward and loves her students.

Heidi plans to grow the choral program, especially in the Upper School. She is determined to grow the number of students in the choral program. Heidi would love the opportunity for the students to go to the District Choral Program. She is cautiously optimistic about bringing the students up to State level. In order to do that, it is critical for those students to focus on their sight-reading skills.

"Sight-reading" is the ability for a vocalist to look at a piece of music and sing from that score without the help of accompaniment. A student has to have the aural skills to be able to hear the score and then be able to sing it. Heidi plans to teach some of these skills to the younger grades, so that by the time they reach the Upper School, they are familiar with these methods. Students are also working on solfège. Solfège teaches pitch, to hear and sing harmonies, and is the way that your mind is then able to assimilate the notes on the page to tones in your head.

Heidi's focus is on developing independent musicians. She would love to see touring opportunities for the choral program in the future and to participate in more competitions. Heidi said, “The more we can elevate the program, the more serious the students become. The skill level rises and the opportunities increase. That’s the way I look at it.”

Steward's Winter Concert will showcase a new feature this year: a combination of both choral and instrumental. Heidi feels that it will be a fun and different way for the students to experience the concert and believes that it’s helping students in both genres. She is convinced that strong vocalists make strong instrumentalists and vice versa, and says, “they feed each other well."

Heidi does a lot of work with SPARC and, usually, musically directs one or two of their shows each year. Last year, she directed Into the Woods, and is currently directing Peter and the Starcatchers, which will open in November. Heidi has taught dance and now teaches private voice lessons at Steward, which has received a great response. She treasures spending time with her family and, when time allows, loves to read, sing, dance, and perform.

September Arts Highlights

Meet Sonali Sanjay!

A junior in high school, Sonali started Steward in ninth grade and has made a big impact by creating the school's first student-led newspaper. Coming from a public school, Sonali took a year off in eighth grade and decided to be homeschooled. Although unconventional, she felt like she was not being challenged enough and did not want to lose that love of learning that she had in elementary school. As far as getting an education, she didn’t feel like she was reaching her full potential. Taking that year off from a conventional classroom setting made her more confident and rekindled that love. She said it was the best thing that she did for herself.

Sonali has loved reading and writing her entire life and it was a significant part of her childhood. When she was in elementary and middle school she wanted that same outlet and had hopes of joining or starting a school newspaper. When she came to Steward, she realized that many other students shared those same goals and decided to take on the challenge of starting Steward Ink.

At times, Sonali didn’t think that the newspaper would actually come to fruition, because of the sheer magnitude of work that was required. Having to create a website from scratch, constantly update it, designing everything from the logo to the format and many other obstacles. She was a one-person team at the time and these were all tasks that she had to take on. It took a lot of meetings and approvals to get to the final product.

At the start of her sophomore year, Sonali took part at Steward's club fair, where everyone could present their club ideas. She had a lot of sign-ups and Steward Ink was born. The newspaper really took off the second semester. They kicked it off with the inaugural issue, which was released in February, and released their spring issue at the end of April.

This year, the goal is to streamline and divide the work equally to make the production more efficient. Sonali plans for a bigger team with monthly issues and consolidating tasks, like having a sports editor and a fashion editor. Also having officers for the team who can announce and provide information at meetings at assembly, announce the launches, have social media presence and representatives who manage the advertising for the newspaper.

Sonali took this project upon herself as her baby and her biggest fear was not finding other students who would share her love of writing. But she found that she had nothing to worry about. She feels the newspaper gives students a creative outlet to write poetry or any writing that isn’t dictated by curriculum, giving the students the freedom to write what they want. Sonali said, "Whatever creative initiative the student wants to take is completely up to them, as long as it falls within our ethics, goals and guidelines.”

Having always loved talking about current events, politics and global issues, Sonali realized that she had that opportunity at Steward, through the newspaper, to find a space where students can truly write what they wanted and stress that creative freedom aspect. She said, "The newspaper builds a lot of real-world skills as well, like working as a team, looking at deadlines and finding new ways to release ethical global media and content that is truly reliable and consistent, which, to learn from a young age, is something that is a very important and a truly valuable skill."

Since eighth grade, Sonali has been competing in Model UN, which also gives her the opportunity to express her love of current events and global issues. She also competes for the title of Battle of the Brains, which is a televised competition in the Central Virginia region, which revolves around trivia and general knowledge.

Sonali hopes to pursue a career in medicine. Last year, during Minimester, which is a week-long program at Steward where you have different options to intern at a place of your choosing, she had the opportunity to work at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center and had a two-day internship at Virginia Commonwealth University. This opened her eyes to the fact that the medical field was exactly what she wanted to pursue.

Wanting to live life to the fullest, in addition to aspiring to be a doctor, Sonali would like to learn as many languages as she can, experience writing a book, release music, design her own line of clothing, run for office, do photography and video editing. She dreams of doing filmmaking and directing a movie. Sonali’s passion is conveyed by this quote, “if you keep your mind open, you can accomplish more things than you have ever dreamed of.”

Meet Ryan Gallagher

Although Ryan Gallagher has been teaching for the past thirteen years, this is his second year at The Steward School teaching technical theater. He said that teaching technical theater is his passion and his love. He believes that teaching a smaller class is more productive and he can focus more attention on his students. Ryan said that technical theater is a very collaborative art form. Some other art forms you can do by yourself, but not technical theater. You always build as a group with others and the satisfaction is immediate. "In theater, if you are not there when it happens, it is gone forever," he said. Mr. Gallagher and his wife screen films for the Vail Film Festival in Vail, Colorado. The four-day festival has taken place annually in late March or early April in Vail, Colorado since 2004. He is also in the process of restoring an antique mechanical slot machine from the 1930s, which he found in the basement of his grandfather's house.

Meet Sejal Vaywala

Hailing from Miami, Sejal Vaywala is very happy to be back in Richmond (where she attended VCU), now in her second year as The Steward School's newest art teacher. Prior to joining Steward, Sejal taught art for the past six years in a private art studio. She enjoys teaching at Steward very much and says the staff has been very supportive. Sejal received her Bachelor of Fine Arts, with a concentration in painting, from Washington University in St. Louis, and she received her Masters of Art Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is happy to be back in RVA, where she lived for almost four years, before moving to Miami. Sejal's love of art extends to painting, printmaking, woodcutting, and linoleum. She also loves painting with mixed media. In her spare time, she likes to train for half-marathons. She also taught yoga in Miami and would like to start teaching yoga again in Richmond.

May Arts Highlights

Meet Samson Trinh!

Meet our new Lower School music and Middle School choir teacher, Samson Trinh. Mr. Trinh is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received a Bachelor of Music degree in jazz studies. His teaching career started as an elementary music educator in Virginia for Caroline County and Henrico County Public Schools.

Graduating with a Performance Arts and Jazz double major, he played saxophone until he started subbing and fell in love with teaching elementary school. He loves that he can teach different genres of music and different instruments to his students. He called his first year at The Steward School “paradise with challenges.” He said, “Even office work is part of the gig.”

Prior to becoming a teacher, Mr. Trinh founded and is still running the Uke 'n' Roll program. He helped publish a lesson book, which is sold together with a ukulele and is used to teach music to children in Hanover County, from kindergarten through twelfth grade. He has taught the Uke 'n' Roll method in public, private, and Montessori schools. As far as Mr. Trinh is concerned, becoming a teacher was a “fortunate accident.”

Mr. Trinh also works for SPARC's Live Art program, which integrates a performing arts curriculum with special education to create a program for students of all abilities. He was hired by them to arrange and orchestrate music and to conduct the house band.

In the world of music and performance, Mr. Trinh has played with artists like Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty, Jason Mraz, K.D. Lang, Sara Bareilles, Al Jarreau, The Temptations, Christina Perri, Robbin Thompson, and Rene Marie. He is also the winner of Richmond Magazine's Theresa Pollak Prize for Excellence in the Arts and was honored by the Hanover County Public Schools in Virginia for integrating ukuleles in music classrooms through the Uke 'n' Roll program.

As Mr. Trinh states on his Uke 'n' Roll website, “The ukulele is the best fortunate accident in my musical and teaching profession. Four simple strings from this small instrument can bring so much happiness and confidence to the player and listener.”

Two Seniors Commit to College Arts Programs

Last week, Steward celebrated an Arts Signing Day, when two seniors committed to continuing their studies of the arts in college. Ethan Williams will attend Emerson College and will pursue theatre, and Randolph Reazin will attend Savannah College of Art and Design to concentrate on film and television. Click here to see photos, taken by parent Anne Williford, from Signing Day. Congratulations!

March Arts Highlights

Meet Theatre and Public Speaking Teacher Susan Sanford

Susan has been with Steward for the past three years and is enjoying it very much. Before coming to Steward, Susan taught full time at Auburn University as part of their theatre faculty. She was previously an adjunct professor at Central Piedmont Community College and University of Richmond; she did her residency teaching in schools across Virginia and the Southeast. She has taught classes at the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC) for more than 10 years. She also started the summer camp Stage Explorers for the Virginia Repertory Theatre and ran that camp for five years.

Susan started doing theatre in middle school and continued through high school. She majored in acting and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a Master of Fine Arts in acting from UNC-Greensboro. She has been a professional actor since the summer after her freshman year of college. Susan has held a Union Card from the Actor’s Equity Association, a professional actors union representing live theatre for 13 years, and has been directing and choreographing professionally for 20 years.

Susan has taught theatre at the college level and the Spark Theater Company for the past 15 years. She was a professional actor and director in the production of Shakespeare In Love at the Virginia Repertory Theatre and directed Goodnight Moon at the Virginia Children's Theatre as well as You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown at the Hanover Tavern Theatre.

Susan is currently directing and choreographing the spring musical Anything Goes at Steward. She has loved the show and the music since she saw it on Broadway. She has two sons at Steward, Trey (13) and Jordan (10). In her spare time she enjoys cooking, spending time with her family, being a theatre mom, and driving her sons to their activities. This summer, Susan will be directing and choreographing the production of Knuffle Bunny that will be performed at the Children’s Theatre of Virginia.

Get to Know Grade 8 Theatre Student Evan Dymon

Meet eighth-grade student Evan Dymon, who, at eight years old, found a love for acting when his sister suggested that he audition for a production of Alice in Wonderland. He played the role of a little bunny and has been hooked ever since. He performed four to five shows a year with Character Works, a non-profit, after school theatre arts program, and performs with the Virginia Repertory Theatre (Virginia Rep) and the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC). Evan has performed many shows since he started with Character Works in fourth grade, including Shrek and Charlotte’s Web, and has performed in Seussical through Virginia Rep.

Evan is currently enrolled in a pre-professional actor training program called TRAIN Express led by the Cadence Theatre Company and Virginia Rep. Through the TRAIN Express program, Evan and fellow rising actors perform songs at hospitals, fundraisers, and more. He has taken various acting classes through Virginia Rep and SPARC.

Evan’s favorite performance was playing Theo in Pippin in sixth grade at Steward and when he played the title role of Pippin at the Jewish Family Theatre. He is also performing in this year’s Steward shows and would like to be involved in the future with the school theatre. He says, “Ms. Sanford is awesome. She’s such a fun theatre teacher.”

Evan plans to continue performing theatre in high school and would like to be a “triple threat,” which is someone who sings, acts, and dances. In the future, he hopes to act in television shows and films.

Evan has two older siblings, a sister at James Madison University and a brother at the University of Virginia. Besides theatre, his favorite subject is science. Outside of school, Evan enjoys ice skating with his sister and playing video games with his brother, and he is also planning on picking up guitar lessons again.

When asked what he sees himself doing in the future, he said he dreams of someday starting his own restaurant called “The Bacon Shack,” where the main ingredient in every dish is bacon. He also dreams of becoming a doctor, or you may see him playing one on television!

February Arts Highlights

Congratulations to five Middle and Upper School students for representing the choral department at the district choral weekend at Glen Allen High School during the weekend of February 9. Seniors Gavin Booker and Jujuan Armstrong (both Bass I) are our two representatives performing in the SATB Choir, and Middle School students Owen DeShazo, Lily Jennette, and Nancy Walker will perform in the middle school chorus.

We hosted an incredible Winter Jazz Jam Concert in the Lora M. Robins Theatre this past Monday that combined our Upper School jazz band with music students from Collegiate School, Trinity Episcopal School, and St. Christopher's School. Click here to check out a gallery of photos from the event!

The first weekend of the month, our Performing Arts Department put on three spectacular performances of the winter play, As You Like It. Click here to read more about the play and click here to view and download photos from the show!

January Arts Highlights

Two Spartans Earn Spots in District Band

Congratulations to grade 8 student Trey Solomon for earning a spot in the clarinet section of the 2018 District One Middle School Band. Trey is the second Steward student to ever make a position in the Middle School District Band program. The first student was Harrison Gelber last year. This year, we give a big congratulations to Harrison Gelber for earning second chair in the percussion section of the 2018 District One Symphonic Band. The Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors’ Association's District One is composed of schools including the City of Richmond and the counties of Henrico and Hanover. Since Harrison earned second chair in the ensemble, he is now eligible to audition for All-Virginia Band. Congratulations to Trey and Harrison!

Meet Instrumental Music Teacher John McAlister

Mr. McAlister has been a music teacher at Steward for 16 years. He was here when the Cramer Center was built and opened in 2002. Mr. McAlister absolutely loves Steward! “I started my career at a small school, and I kept wanting to get into a bigger one. I ended up not liking it as much. When I found Steward, I came back to the roots of my teaching. You have to be more creative in the smaller school to make our ensemble sound the way it sounds,” he said. He enjoys the creative challenge of making a smaller ensemble sound like a large orchestra.

Mr. McAlister has a B.A. in music education with emphasis in percussion. He said: “I’m a percussionist first, but in my teaching career, I had to learn to play all sorts of instruments to make the band work.” In the 28 years of his teaching career, he has learned to play piano, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, or “whatever it takes to get my ensemble playing.”

Mr. McAlister is in charge of the school talent night for the Middle and Upper School. He said he sees it as another creative opportunity to help students who want to perform musical pieces: “A student will come to me with a song they would like to perform, and I try my best to arrange something and get other kids involved.” Mr. McAlister takes great joy in helping the students with their performances and writing music for the talent show.

Outside of school, Mr. McAlister’s hobbies are also musically inclined. He is part of a ukulele ensemble group that plays once a month at farmer’s markets and different events. He organizes the children’s choir at Shady Grove United Methodist Church that performs six times a year. Mr. McAlister also plays in the pit orchestra with different local theatre groups, including CharacterWorks and Henrico Theater Company. Besides music, he also enjoys riding his bicycle. Over the summer, Mr. McAlister biked all 55 miles of the Virginia Capital Trail, as well as some of the trails in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.

This year, there is a new addition to the music department at Steward. Mr. McAlister and some of his students have started a marching drumline. Mr. McAlister said that as a member of the Steward band, you are a member of three bands: basketball pep band, concert band, and jazz band. He makes sure you have all those experiences in class.

December Arts Highlights

Harrison Gelber to perform with the Central Virginia Wind Symphony

The Central Virginia Wind Symphony is comprised of the most talented high school musicians in the Central Virginia. Criteria for nomination into this ensemble include students who exhibit musicality, a strong sense of responsibility, and an outstanding work ethic. The result is a roster of approximately 70-80 young people from all across the area, working together to entertain and impress local audiences.

Freshman Harrison Gelber will perform with this ensemble on Saturday, December 9 at 7 p.m. at Virginia Center Commons and Sunday, December 10 at 3 p.m. at Collegiate School. Their concert will be broadcast on WTVR-TV Channel 6 on Christmas Day (Monday 12/25) at 5 p.m. and shown several times throughout the holiday season on channel 6.3. Congrats, Harrison! 

5 Students Chosen For District Choral Weekend

Steward had five students chosen through audition to perform in the 2018 District I SATB Chorus and the Middle School Workshop Chorus in February! Middle School representatives include Owen DeShazo, Lily Jennette, and Nancy Walker, and Upper School representatives are Jujuan Armstrong and Gavin Booker. Mark your calendars for February 10 at 2 p.m. at Glen Allen High School to come support our students participating in the District Choral Weekend!

Come See Guatemalean Kites Handmade by Middle School Spanish Students

Each year around the beginning of November, the little town of Santiago Sacatepéquez, Guatemala becomes a bustling place. People from all over the world flock to the cemetery for the big unveil: los barriletes gigantes, or the giant kites! A Mayan tradition from pre-Hispanic times, giant kites, many as big as twenty-three feet, are made throughout the year by families and friends. Originally, kites and their messages were made to connect the world of the living with the world of loved ones who had passed. Today, in addition to messages for loved ones, kites share themes of peace, activism, and beauty. On Day of the Dead, the kites are ready and are flown for all to see!

This year, Spanish students in grades 6, 7, and 8 learned about this Day of the Dead tradition in Guatemala. They read the book Un Barrilete para el Día de los Muertos, by Elisa Amado and Joya Hairs, and followed the story of Juan, a young boy making a kite for his grandfather. Students then designed and created miniature versions of the barriletes gigantes, focusing on meaningful messages (click here to read more about the project). Come enjoy their beautiful creations in the Brandt Art Gallery now through January 17!

Get to Know Lower and Middle School Visual Arts Teacher Cindy Grissom

Cindy is the grandmother of five children whose ages range from six months to sixteen years. Cindy started as a substitute teacher with a degree in studio art and has been with Steward for 18 years. When an art teaching position opened up, she accepted and fell in love with teaching. She said, “It filled a place in my heart I didn’t know I was missing,” and she has been teaching ever since.

In her free time, Cindy enjoys reading books and drawing or coloring in coloring books. She enjoys exploring nature, and particularly likes beaches and mountains. She also likes to spend her spare time volunteering and giving back to her community by serving monthly dinners to two different men’s shelters.

"These 18 years have gone by so fast," she said. “I adore the people I work with and I appreciate that I can teach the kids what I would like for them to learn. I am grateful to The Steward School for allowing me to introduce the students to different mediums, from painting to woodworking and glasswork.” Cindy looks forward to many more years serving the Steward community, and so do we!

Meet Junior Morgan King!

Morgan is a junior in the Upper School and has been coming here since sixth grade. She loves Steward, her teachers, and her friends and said that it was a very easy transition for her to come here. "I made friends that very first week of school," she said, and she is still friends with them to this day.

As far back as she can remember, she was singing before she could speak. "I never received voice lessons, but my mom would take me to 'Mommy and Me' singing classes since I was a baby up until around the time of elementary school. I developed a great love of singing. I sing around the house like crazy and I sing around my friends all the time." Morgan sings in her church and, up until this year, she has been singing the National Anthem at the basketball games for the University of Richmond. She said, " I have been singing since I was very young and it is something that I will continue to do, regardless of whether I am in a choir or not."

Morgan plays volleyball, takes piano lessons, loves to read, and wants to start ballet lessons again. She will always be singing and hopes to join a choir, an acapella group, or a singing club when she will be attending college. "I don't ever want to be without music or singing," she said.

Morgan would like to be a nurse someday and volunteering at St. Mary's Hospital has been a great way to get acclimated to the hospital environment. She delivers flowers to patients and helps with discharging. This year, Steward will be going to different nursing homes in the area to sing and perform, and Morgan considers that to be the best part of singing with the choir.

November Arts Highlights

Get to Know Lower School Visual Arts Teacher Lynn Zinder

Lynn Zinder is the chair of the Visual Arts Department and has been with Steward for 25 years. Her interest in art was sparked in her early childhood, when she would make paper mache puppets with her father, who she says influenced her interest in the arts the most. In college, Mrs. Zinder was certain that her career would be as a therapist, however, she decided to pursue art instead. Since then, she has been able to combine her love for art and her interest in therapy: "I feel like I'm a therapist through art, especially for the young children who are learning to express their emotions," she said.

On her feelings about working at Steward, Mrs. Zinder said: "Steward is my family and they are so supportive. Whether you are happy or sad, they always have your back. Also. through professional development, they help you grow. I have opportunities here I would never have in any other school, especially through developing the Artist-in-Residence Program."

Mrs. Zinder has always had an interest in working with those in need. She collaborated with six colleagues to develop the MLK, Dr. Day of Service at Steward, which was active for ten years. Now, she is focusing on bringing the arts to local homeless shelters. "Someday, when I retire, I look forward to developing this program more and combining my interest between community and art, which is something I strive to do all the time," she said.

As for life outside of art, Mrs. Zinder loves to spend time with her family, especially her two grandchildren, whom she spends all her spare time with. "You always have to have a life for yourself," she said, and her biggest accomplishment in life are her "children and their accomplishments and successes."

Meet New Choral Student Laya Koder

Welcome to your new school, Laya! A freshman in the Upper School with a fantastic voice, Laya has been singing ever since she could speak and started vocal lessons at the age of nine. She was taught to sing the proper way, from the diaphragm, and continues those lessons to this day. If you heard the beautiful rendition of the National Anthem at the beginning of the school year (pictured), then you already know what a talented singer she is.

In a short span of three years, Laya has performed at various concerts, recitals, and event venues, including singing the National Anthem at numerous sporting events, most notably at VCU baseball games, UR basketball games, and at home games for the Flying Squirrels. In addition to being an honor student, Laya also loves acting and singing in community theater, having performed in Seussical and The Music Man.

She started competing in national and international competitions in 2015 and, in March, won the BMW Lions Bland Contest. In 2015, Laya was a first-place winner of the American Protege International Vocal Competition. In 2016, she was a first place-winner of the AFAF Golden Voices of America Competition, where she won a scholarship to study in Germany. In 2017, Laya was a winner of the VCDA District 1 Workshop Choir and a finalist in the Hal Leonard Online Vocal Competition. She has performed at the winner’s recital in 2015 and 2016 in Carnegie Hall, New York City. In her spare time, Laya plays the piano and enjoys writing and performing her own music.

This year, Laya will perform with Steward at the Virginia District Choral, where they will sing “She Walks in Beauty.” Bonnie Anderson, her choral teacher, recommended that she enter another competition called The Asian American Music Society. This competition takes place in Maryland and the winner gets to sing at the Kennedy Center. Laya’s plans for the future include minoring in music and always keeping her options open to new and wonderful possibilities in life.

October Arts Highlights

Q&A with Lower and Upper School Music Teacher Bonnie Anderson 

  • What is your favorite activity? Making music!
  • What is your favorite hobby? Making music!
  • What do you enjoy above everything else in life? My family and my music! I guess you could say music is my life, as represented by the plaque above my desk that says, ”Without music, life would be a mistake.” (Friedrich Nietzsche). I have taught music since 1970. I have written children’s plays, organized talent performances, and taught private piano and vocal lessons. I began teaching piano in college to my professor’s daughter, and I have not stopped teaching piano since that first experience. I have been privileged to observe students move from my tutelage on to colleges and universities, furthering their musical careers. One student, a classically trained vocalist, organized her own opera company. Two of my former piano students have gone on to raise more than $100,000 for various statewide charities. One of their performances at VMFA was a highlight of my teaching career. And then there were many hours of instructing and working with my own daughter, Michelle. We recorded several original songs at Bradley’s Barn in Nashville, where many stars had recorded their gold records and albums. Another memorable occasion was engineering a song about the Vietnam War, which won my daughter top honors in a songwriting contest and inclusion in a book by Breeze Bryson. Yes, my life has truly been blessed in opportunities to make music with children for as long as I can remember! Another plaque in my office states, “Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away,” and my life has been filled with numerous breathless moments as I observed my students in performance!

Meet Freshman Harrison Gelber

Meet Steward freshman Harrison Gelber. In second grade, Harrison saw his friend, Kevin, play the drums, which inspired his love of percussion. He started playing the drums in third grade and, by the fourth grade, he was asked to play in the Steward pep band. This year, Harrison was responsible for bringing the drumline to Steward. Everything from conception to receiving approval to acquiring the drums was handled by him. He found used drums through his private drum teacher and was helpful in acquiring them for the school’s use. He considers starting the drumline his biggest personal accomplishment so far. This year the drumline will be playing at Spartafest. He was also asked to play in the Midlothian High School indoor drumline by his drum teacher. His favorite food is pizza and his favorite subject is math. Besides playing the drums, Harrison enjoys golf and robotics. He is thankful to Steward for the opportunity to grow and expand in music and other areas. He hopes to one day be a doctor or an engineer, while continuing playing the drums or the many other percussion instruments he loves to play.





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