TAA Administrative Council
E. Frank Bluestein
Executive Director/Theatre Director
E. Frank Bluestein is the 1996-1997 Disney National Performing Arts Teacher of the Year and the 1994 Tennessee Teacher of the Year. USA Today named Bluestein as one of the top forty teachers in the United States in 1998. Up until his recent retirement, he served as chairman of the Germantown High School Fine Arts Department and as executive producer for the school’s three-million-dollar, Emmy Award winning television studio. Bluestein is a past winner of the American Theatre Association’s John C. Barner Award and has served as an arts advisory panelist for numerous organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts and the Tennessee Arts Commission. He spent several years as director of shows at Opryland, USA, and most recently wrote and directed the national touring production of Beale Street Saturday Night starring blues legend Joyce Cobb. In 2013, Bluestein was inducted into the Educational Theatre Association’s Hall of Fame in Minneapolis.
Connie Marley is retired after teaching twenty years at Freedom Middle School in Franklin, Tennessee. During her successful tenure at the school, her choirs consistently won superior ratings at local and state choral festivals. Each year, her students were well represented in honor choirs at the local, regional, and national levels as well. Prior to her time in Franklin, Marley held teaching positions in Georgia, Texas and the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Marley is also a past president of the Middle Tennessee Vocal Association and has served the organization in several other capacities. Currently, she is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association.
Visual Art Director
Libby Lynch is the upper school visual art instructor and art department chair at University School of Jackson in Jackson, Tennessee. She started her career in art education with the Shelby County School System after receiving degrees from Union University, the University of Memphis, and the Memphis College of Art. She became a member of the Tennessee Art Education Association in 1991 and has served in various leadership positions in the organization in an effort to ensure that as many children as possible have access to quality art instruction. In 2004, she was named Educator of the Year by the Tennessee Art Education Association and Sponsor of the Year by the National Art Honor Society. In addition to her educational and leadership roles, Lynch is also a jewelry designer who explores a variety of media and regularly exhibits her work in shows and competitions throughout the nation.
Arts Leadership and Administration Director
Amanda Galbraith is an art educator with the Bartlett City Schools in Tennessee. In 2017–2018, she was an educator fellow with the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, a Tennessee-based nonprofit education research institution. Her students have consistently received recognition and awards, and many have gone on to successfully pursue further studies in the arts. Galbraith has served on the Tennessee Department of Education’s subject matter expert committee, two standards revision committees, a textbook and instructional materials advisory panel, and numerous curriculum development teams. She’s received the Tennessee Art Education Association’s West Tennessee Art Educator of the Year award two times—in 2011 and 2013. In 2019 Galbraith was named the Tennessee Art Education Association Art Educator of the Year. She is a frequent presenter at local, state, and national conferences.
Before her retirement in May of 2008, Susan Ramsay was a music specialist at Franklin Elementary School in the Franklin Special Schools District and was named Teacher of the Year for that system. She has received National Board Certification in Music and holds degrees from Peabody College and Middle Tennessee State University. Ramsay is past president of the Middle Tennessee Orff-Schulwerk Association and the Middle Tennessee Elementary Music Educators Association and has served as regional representative on the National Board of Trustees for AOSA. She has presented at Orff and Kodaly national conferences and for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). She serves as an adjunct professor at several colleges and universities and maintains an active schedule of performances as a storyteller and as a musician.
TAA Professional Services
Belmont State Grant Administrator
Jeff Kirk is the associate director of performance studies of the School of Music at Belmont University, where he teaches courses in advance contemporary arranging and directs Jazz Band I, Belmont’s premier jazz ensemble. Kirk has degrees from the University of Memphis, Belmont University, and the University of Miami. He has extensive recording experience, including television jingles for Ford, Toyota, and several local and national retail stores. He has toured with Pure Prairie League and Maynard Ferguson and has been the headline act for Big Orange Jazz Festival, Fort Lauderdale Festival, Kool Jazz Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival, Summer Lights Festival, and more. He has also opened for such acts as Bobby McFerrin, Stanley Turrentine, and Mark Murphy. For his album Clouds, Kirk was nominated in two Grammy categories—best jazz album and best jazz instrumental solo. His new album project for 88 Grand Productions, Come Thou Fount, is a collaborative effort with keyboardist Russell Davis.
TAA Foundation Grant Writer
Jesse Strauss is a grant writer and classical percussionist based in Nashville, TN. As a musician and lifetime music appreciator, he has enjoyed writing for a variety of arts and cultural organizations. He has worked for the Nashville Symphony since 2018 and now serves as their Grants Manager. He is, however, equally experienced at fundraising for social and human services organizations. He has procured federal, state, and private funding in service areas as diverse as mental health, childcare and early education, restorative justice, and healthcare. A sampling of other ongoing clients include Fannie Battle Day Home, Musical Mentors Collaborative, Centennial Park Conservancy, Raphah Institute, and Santa Monica Symphony. Last year, he helped raise over $1.5 million dollars for more than 15 nonprofits.
Jesse cofounded Make Music Nashville, a free day of music that brings outdoor concerts and participatory musical activities to neighborhoods around the city each year on the summer solstice. He is also the Assistant Artistic Director for the contemporary classical ensemble chatterbird. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance from Belmont University, where he studied under Christopher Norton.
TAA Founding Directors
Joe W. Giles
TAA Dean Emeritus
Joe Giles is founder of the Tennessee Arts Academy and former director of the Arts Education Program of the Tennessee Department of Education. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in music education from Austin Peay State University and has done additional study at Peabody College, Middle Tennessee State University, and Fisk University. Mr. Giles is past president of the Southern Division of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and of the National Council of State Supervisors of Music. He taught music in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools for twenty-two years, has taken choral groups on concert tours in Europe, and has received gold and silver medals in international music festivals.
Founding TAA Music Director & Project Director
Madeline Bridges is professor of music in the School of Music at Belmont University, where she teaches music education. Her degrees include a B.M. in piano performance from Shorter College in Rome, Georgia; an M. Mus. Ed. from George Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University; and an Ed.D. in music education from the University of Alabama. Bridges has taught music and music education in classrooms from kindergarten through the graduate level and is past president of both the Tennessee Music Educators Association and the International Board of Directors of Choristers Guild. She is a member of the Tennessee Music Education Association Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tennessee Chapter of American Choral Directors Association. Bridges recently retired after having served for 29 years as Program Director of the Nashville Children’s Choir. For fifteen years, Bridges served as associate dean for academic studies of the Belmont School of Music.
Linda Singleton McAllister
Founding TAA Resource Center Director
Linda Singleton McAllister was a founding member of the Tennessee Arts Academy and organized its first Resource Center. She later served as Music Director when the program expanded to include secondary choral and instrumental tracks. McAllister served as music consultant for seven years with the Tennessee Department of Education and enjoyed working to improve arts education in the state, based on the vision of Joe Giles. She left Tennessee in 1993 and is now a retired music educator and choral director from The Academy for Academics and Arts, a K-8 magnet school in Huntsville, Alabama. Her choirs consistently received superior ratings at festivals. Several of her former students are now successful teachers and others have careers in the arts, including Michael Luwoye, who recently played Hamilton on Broadway. After returning to her hometown of Huntsville, McAllister received the prestigious Virginia Hammill Simms Award for contributions to the arts community. She served several times as president of the Huntsville City Choral Directors and after retirement was inducted into the Association’s Hall of Fame. McAllister also served on the national board of the Organization of American Kodaly Educators, was a founding member and president of the Huntsville Master Chorale, and served as vice president of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
TAA Office Staff
Melody Hart earned a bachelor of music degree in bassoon performance from Ball State University in Indiana. After graduation she moved to Nashville and worked for Badger-Bogle, Architects as executive assistant and bookkeeper from 1993 to 1998. She then began working with her husband, photographer Scott Schrecker, as office manager and bookkeeper. Hart also played bassoon for the Belmont University orchestra for several years and currently subs for them and other Nashville area orchestras on occasion. She plays bassoon with First Baptist Nashville’s sanctuary orchestra, teaches private bassoon lessons in her spare time, and enjoys performing duets with her daughter Sammy, who is a harpist. Hart also enjoys teaching the arts to her son Scotty.
Mary Godwin earned a bachelor degree in psychology from Oklahoma State University and a master degree in guidance counseling from The Ohio State University. She has lived in Nashville since 1973, when her husband Paul joined the music faculty of Belmont University. Godwin was employed full time at Belmont from 1997 until 2013. Prior to 1997, she worked for the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, United Methodist Communications, and Vanderbilt University.
TAA Year-Round Support Staff
Savannah Aiello –
Nathan Babian – Webmaster
Gina Miller –
Patricia Hudson –
Scott Schrecker –
2021 TAA Summer Support Staff
Pollyanna Parker – Communications Coordinator, TAA Virtual Platform Trainer and Help Desk Coordinator
Paula Medlin –
Trio Track Coordinator
Atticus Hensley – TAA Virtual Platform Trainer
Jennifer Keith – TAA Virtual Platform Trainer
Kami Lunsford – TAA Virtual Platform Trainer
Janet Laws – TAA Virtual Platform Trainer
Nancy Beard – TAA Virtual Platform Trainer
Charles Sanchez – TAA Classroom and Help Desk Monitor
Becki Privett – TAA Classroom and Help Desk Monitor
Jackson Parker – Help Desk Monitor
Sammy Schrecker – Help Desk Monitor and Office Aide
Dianne Evans – Visitors’ Day Coordinator
Jim Dodson – VARD Coordinator
Patricia Hudson – VARD Coordinator
Lori Anne Parker-Danley – Copy Editor
Linda Norfleet – Proofreader
Martin Cutler – Video Editor
Grant Townsend Moore – Videographer
Olivia Nelshoppen – Social Media – Inventory and App Coordinator
Dianne Evans and Patricia Hudson – Office Volunteers and Ambassadors
Susan Hearn, Lexie Hearn, Scotty Schrecker – Office Aides
Special thanks to Katie Mitchell for her assistance in coordinating the TAA visual art exhibitions.
2021 TAA Facilitators
Arts Leadership and Administration