Faculty Bios

Please check back regularly for updates and information about the 2017 Tennessee Arts Academy.

Sandra Adorno

Music – Elementary/Lower Middle

Core Class Description • Interlude Description


Sandra Adorno is a visiting assistant professor of music education at Stetson University in Central Florida and a general music teacher at Stetson’s Community School of Music. Prior to these positions, she was an adjunct professor of music education at Florida International University and a teaching assistant at the University of Miami. She has also worked as a general music teacher for Palm Beach County Schools and Frost Music Reach. She is certified in both Smithsonian Folkways World Music Pedagogy and in Orff-Schulwerk level III from the San Francisco International Orff Course. She has also received extensive training in Dalcroze Eurhythmics and Modern Band. Adorno has served as an in-service and pre-service music teacher trainer throughout the country and is published in Reverberations: Teachers Teaching Teachers, Florida Music Director, and Smithsonian Folkways’ Tools for Teaching.



Julia Ashworth

Theatre-Elementary/Lower Middle

Core Class Description • Interlude Description



Julia Ashworth is assistant teaching professor of theatre education in the Department of Theatre and Media Arts at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah. Ashworth has worked in the field of arts education—as an artist, administrator, and kindergarten through twelfth grade teacher—for more than fifteen years. Ashworth’s work focuses primarily on theatre for young audiences and applied theatre practices. Her duties in the theatre and media arts department include serving as the program director for the theatre education program and the artistic director for Young Company, BYU’s Theatre for Young Audiences touring group. In 2013, Ashworth directed The Nightingale in China. Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s short fairy tale “The Nightingale,” the play was performed in both English and Mandarin for more than 9,000 children. Ashworth is also co-author of Arts Education and Literacies, a book that is part of the Routledge Research in Literacy Series. 




Barbara Bashaw

Theatre-Elementary/Lower Middle

Core Class Description • Interlude Description


Barbara Bashaw is the graduate director of dance education teacher preparation at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Her early career involved collaborating with dozens of classroom and arts teachers in the New York City public schools through ArtsConnection before founding her own interdisciplinary dance program in a public elementary school in Brooklyn. Her teaching methods have been featured in various publications, such as Lauren Resnick’s literacy learning books and Dance Teacher magazine. Bashaw is the president of DanceNJ and is actively involved with the National Dance Education Organization, for which she serves as one of the writers for the new National Core Arts Standards in Dance. She is also on the faculty of the Dance Education Laboratory and has presented more than one hundred professional workshops and conference sessions nationally and internationally. 



Christine Bass

Music-Upper Middle/Secondary

Core Class Description • Interlude Description


Christine Bass is an assistant professor of music education at Temple University and the director of the Temple University Women’s Chorus. Prior to these positions, she taught for twenty-two years at Cherry Hill West High School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where she grew a sixty-student program into one with more than three hundred students in seven choirs. Her men’s a cappella group, Men of Note, won three consecutive National Championships for Best of High School A Cappella. She has conducted numerous All State and Honors Choirs, including the American Choral Directors Association’s All National High School Honors Choir, which she conducted in 2009. Bass regularly serves as a guest conductor, adjudicator, and clinician and has presented workshops across the country on her two educational DVDs—Vocal Transformation and Where the Boys Are, both published by Hal Leonard. Her third educational product Front-Loading: Constructing Your Rehearsal for Success will be published soon.


Christine Bass’s faculty position has been generously donated by Bobby Jean Frost, in memory of Donna Frost; the Lingner Gift Fund; and Lee Stites, in memory of Marilee Kester Stites.


Alexis Black

Theatre-Upper Middle/Secondary

Core Class Description • Interlude Description



Alexis Black is a professional actor, teacher, director, and fight director who has worked on international tours, television, and Broadway. Beginning this fall, she will serve as visiting assistant professor of theatre at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado, where she will teach advanced acting, directing, and movement. As an educator, Black has taught numerous classes and workshops for colleges, theatre companies, middle schools, and high schools. Her specialties include stage combat, improvisation, Viewpoints, and the Michael Chekhov and Meisner techniques. As an actress, she has worked in New York City and with regional theaters; she has also appeared on AMC and The Discovery Channel. Black’s fight direction credits include the New York Fringe Festival, American Globe Theatre, and the Virginia Repertory Theatre. She is also part of the all-female, comedic fight troupe Vixens: En Garde!




Kevin Coleman

Theatre-Upper Middle/Secondary

Core Class Description • Interlude Description


Kevin Coleman is a founding member, teacher, director, and current education director for Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Massachusetts, where he teaches clown, rhetoric, stage combat, and text. Coleman has taught, directed, or been a guest artist at Columbia University, Harvard University, Lincoln Center, Queensland University of Technology at Brisbane, the Shakespeare Theatre Association, Stanford University, Tulane University, and the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He has served multiple years as a project director for both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2006, he was honored at the White House and received the Coming Up Taller Award for the Shakespeare in the Courts Program that he created in collaboration with Judge Paul E. Perachi. In 2009, Coleman received the Distinguished Theatre Artist Award from the Massachusetts Alliance for Arts Education. In 2016, he was a runner-up for the annual Tony Award for theatre education.




Dru Davison

Arts Leadership, Administration, and Assessment

Core Class Description 


Dru Davison is an arts administrator for the Shelby County Schools and currently serves as project chair for the Tennessee State Board of Education’s Standards Revision Committee. He has held several professional appointments with the National Association for Music Education including chair of the association’s Council of Music Program Leaders, its President’s Cabinet, and its Professional Development Committee. Davison has been a consultant for the United States Department of Education and the Tennessee Department of Education as well as the Insight Education Group. He has taught music to students in kindergarten through twelfth grade, was an adjunct jazz instructor at Arkansas State University, and was a teaching fellow in music education at the University of North Texas. He has been a member of the Bill and Melinda Gates College Readiness Advisory Council and is a former national fellow for the Hope Street Group.



Lara Dossett

Theatre-Elementary/Lower Middle

Core Class Description • Interlude Description


Lara Dossett is committed to the idea that learning in and through the arts can be transformational. She serves as a faculty member in the drama and theatre for youth and communities graduate program at the University of Texas, Austin, where she also teaches an innovative arts integration undergraduate course. In addition to teaching, Dossett is the professional learning coordinator for Drama for Schools (DFS). She programs and implements drama-based pedagogy professional development through DFS’s partnerships with schools, school districts, and the Austin Independent School District’s Creative Learning Initiative. Dossett has presented her practice-based work and research at several national and international conferences, including the Southeast Center for Education through the Arts, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and the International Drama in Education Institute in Limerick, Ireland.



Andre Dowell

Arts Leadership, Administration, and Assessment

Core Class Description 


Andre Dowell currently serves as chief programming officer for the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization, a leading national arts organization that transforms lives through the power of diversity in the arts. In his work, Dowell draws from his diverse background as a performer, educator, and administrator. The Sphinx Organization is responsible for fostering more than thirty orchestral partnerships across the country. These partnerships lead to dozens of performances across the United States each year. Originally from Trenton, Tennessee, Dowell received both his bachelor of music and master of music degrees in percussion performance from the University of Michigan.





Dennis Glocke

Music-Upper Middle/Secondary

Core Class Description • Interlude Description


Dennis Glocke has been the director of concert bands at Pennsylvania State University since 1996. He is frequently invited to serve as a guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States. In the states, his ensembles have performed at the Eastern Division Conference of the College Band Directors National Association and the Midwest Clinic in Chicago. Glocke has also conducted in some of the country’s finest performing venues, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater in Chautauqua, New York; the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Maryland; and Lincoln Center in New York City. In 2005, his Penn State Symphonic Wind Ensemble had the honor of being the first American band invited to open the Flicorno D’Oro international band festival in Riva del Garda, Italy.





Ayanna N. Hudson

Arts Leadership, Administration, and Assessment

Core Class Description 


Ayanna N. Hudson is the director of arts education for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), where she presides over the grant portfolio devoted to arts education. She also works with national service organizations on policy initiatives and serves as the spokesperson for arts education at the federal level. Prior to her work with the NEA, Hudson was the director of arts education with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission for more than ten years. In collaboration with cross-sector stakeholders in the county, she developed and led the implementation of the Arts for All collaborative in the largest educational system in the country—an effort that achieved equitable access to arts education for the county’s 1.6 million students and eighty-one school districts.




Kat Morgan

Visual Art – Elementary/Lower Middle

Core Class Description 


Kat Morgan is an illustrator, designer, and collaborator with a passion for social justice and education. She seeks to affect positive change by using art as a tool for advocacy and empowerment. A graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, Morgan thrives on collaboration and community and seeks to build lasting relationships while creating a unique body of work. She loves it when working with a strong team allows her to arrive at visual solutions to a problem. Morgan is currently working as an artist for an international hospitality design firm and freelancing on the side.




Georgia Newlin

Music – Elementary/Lower Middle

Core Class Description • Interlude Description



Georgia Newlin has taught in early childhood and public school music programs for fifteen years and at the collegiate level for thirteen. She is an associate professor of music at Adelphi University in New York, is past president of the Organization of American Kodály Educators, and is a member of the VoiceCare Network. She has served as a conductor for choral festivals; as a clinician for choral workshops, reading sessions and intermediate grade methodology; and as a consultant for curriculum planning. She teaches musicianship, conducting, and ensemble in Kodály programs at Indiana University, James Madison University, and the University of Hawaii. Music is Elementary has published her book, One Accord: Developing Part-singing Skills in School-age Musicians, as well as her literacy-based lesson plans in The Crooked River Choral Project. Her arrangement of “Es ist ein Ros’ ‘entsprungen” is part of the Ruth Dwyer Choral Series from Colla Voce Music.




Ginger Bowerman Pacer

Visual Art – Elementary/Lower Middle

Core Class Description 


Ginger Bowerman Pacer is currently completing her nineteenth year in the Perrysburg School District in Perrysburg, Ohio. She is known to many as Paintbrush Rocket, the name of her blog that she established in 2012 (paintbrushrocket.com). Pacer has been active in the Ohio Art Educators Association (OAEA) and served as both its regional director and public relations chair. She has presented more than fifteen workshops at the state level and presented three times at the National Art Education Association’s annual convention. Currently, she is one of four leaders of the Art Scouts, a team of art teachers with the goal of providing comprehensive hands-on workshops for art educators and creativity seekers. In 2009, Pacer was honored as Outstanding Art Teacher of OAEA’s northwest region. In her eighth year of teaching, she was honored as Teacher of the Year by the Perrysburg School District, as voted by her peers.



Alejandro Rodriguez

Theatre-Upper Middle/Secondary

Core Class Description • Interlude Description


Alejandro Rodriguez is an actor, writer, educator, and organizer. He is an adjunct instructor at City University of New York, has served on the faculty at the O’Neill Center and the Performing Arts Project, and has led workshops at Juilliard and on campuses throughout the country. As a program director for Artists Striving to End Poverty, he helps emerging and established artists harness their passions to empower youth around the world. He is the resident poet for Shook Ones, an interdisciplinary arts company he co-founded with choreographer Cindy Salgado. His New York acting credits include the world premiere of Ghetto Babylon (winner of the National Latino Playwrights Award) at 59E59, the premiere of Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas’ Bird in the Hand at Theater for the New City, King Lear playing opposite of Billy Porter, the title role in Romeo and Juliet for the Acting Company, and many more. Regionally, he has worked at Baltimore CenterStage, Denver Center Theatre, the Guthrie Theatre, the Humana Festival, the Kennedy Center, and the Chekhov Project at Lake Lucille, among others. His film and television credits include Nurse Jackie (Showtime), Dates from Hell (Discovery ID), and the feature film Emoticon;). 




Roger Smith

Visual Art – Upper Middle/Secondary

Core Class Description 


Roger Smith’s career as an artist, educator, lecturer, and workshop teacher has spanned more than forty years. He taught art to students in south Florida, primarily at Deerfield Beach High School. He taught design at Florida Atlantic University; art appreciation and traditional and digital photography at Broward College; and has presented lectures and workshops throughout Florida, Illinois, and Tennessee. He received the Florida Secondary Art Educator of the Year award and the National Art Education Association’s Secondary Art Educator award for the southeastern United States. In his personal work, he strives to simplify form, while paying close attention to the subtleties of design and qualities of texture in a variety of media. His current work is in clay, painting, and digital manipulations. His book, DBHS The Final Three Years, presents a portfolio of more than 175 pieces created during the last three years of his work with students at Deerfield Beach High School.



Katy Strand

Music-Upper Middle/Secondary

Core Class Description • Interlude Description


Katy Strand is the academic editor of the Music Educators Journal and an associate professor of music at the Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University, where she teaches classes in participatory music practices, curriculum, and qualitative research. In addition to teaching general and choral music in rural and urban settings, she has served as choral director and integrated arts faculty at the Virginia Governor’s School for the Visual and Performing Arts. Her research interests include creativity, multicultural music pedagogy, and curriculum. In addition to authoring and co-editing the book Musicianship: Composing in Choir, Strand has published articles in Music Educators Journal, Teaching Music, General Music Today, Journal of Research in Music Education, Journal of Music Teacher Education, Philosophy of Music Education Review, and Music Education Researcher.




Michael D. Toth

Arts Leadership, Administration, and Assessment

Core Class Description 


Former university faculty member, director of research and development grants, and president of the National Center for the Profession of Teaching, Michael D. Toth transformed his university research and development team into a company that focuses on the professional development and growth of teachers. In his current work, he is committed to fostering leadership skills and teaching strategies that enable educators to help their students achieve their learning goals. Toth is actively involved in research and development, gives public presentations, and advises education leaders on issues of leadership and teacher effectiveness, school improvement, and professional development systems. He is the author of Who Moved My Standards?, as well as co-author of Teacher Evaluation that Makes a Difference: A New Model for Teacher Growth and Student Achievement (with Robert J. Marzano) and School Leadership for Results: Shifting the Focus of Leader Evaluation (with Beverly Carbaugh and Robert J. Marzano).




Patrick Ware

Music – Elementary/Lower Middle

Core Class Description • Interlude Description


Patrick Ware is an active Orff-Schulwerk clinician and choral conductor at the local, state, and national levels. With twenty years of teaching experience, he holds degrees from Westfield State University and Radford University, as well as a doctorate from the Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University. He teaches movement and recorder for the Central Florida University Orff certification program and also teaches basic pedagogy for the Virginia Commonwealth University and Collegiate School Orff Certification Program. Ware has several compositions published through Beatin’ Path Publications, including works for treble choir and works for Orff ensemble. He teaches kindergarten to fifth grade general music and chorus in Prince William County, Virginia. Special topics in his classroom and courses include jazz in the elementary setting and the use of children’s literature.




Grant Whitsitt

Visual Art – Upper Middle/Secondary

Core Class Description 


Grant Whitsitt is currently a 2D animator at Copernicus Animation Studio in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As an artist in the animation field, he considers high quality story and character development to be a crucial aspect of all art forms. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2016 with a degree in animation. He led the largest animation team that year in order to create his short film, Jumpin’ Jack, which has won awards from and inclusions in film festivals all over the world. Before moving to Nova Scotia, he taught traditional and digital art classes at his high school alma mater, the University School of Jackson. Whitsitt strives to develop an endlessly creative spirit within his pupils and often tells them “the perfectionist in you is trying to kill the artist in you.” He has always been an advocate for honest visual storytelling, education for mastery instead of scores, and inclusive leadership. Whitsitt feels that a collaborative effort is only as fun as the team members are willing to make it, and he considers education to be the greatest collaborative endeavor.




Gloria Wilson

Trio Track – Visual Art Sessions

Core Class Elementary/Lower Middle Trio Track • Core Class Upper Middle/Secondary Trio Track


Gloria Wilson is assistant professor of art education at Middle Tennessee State University. She also taught middle and high school art for thirteen years in both inner city and rural environments in Alabama and Virginia. She was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study art, education, and culture in Tokyo, Japan, and has presented her research highlighting the intersections of arts participation, creativity, and race, within the context of fine art and popular culture both nationally and internationally. Wilson has also presented workshops exploring creative thinking dispositions for the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero and has been an invited artist and researcher for Spelman College’s Museum of Art BLACK BOX series. Her current research interests use arts-based approaches and are committed to addressing the roles of visual culture and educational systems and how they can affect social transformation.