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Arts Integration Specialists

  • Linda Ball-RodriquezLinda Ball-Rodriquez

    Is a highly qualified Visual Arts teacher of 22 years, who was formally trained in the United Kingdom. In the last 16 years, she was employed as the Visual Arts teacher at a Sedona, AZ Elementary School, and was one of the school librarians. Whenever possible she integrates children’s’ literature into her curriculum. While studying for her degree in Fine Arts at Bretton Hall College, she minored in Inter Arts, which taught her how to integrate performance, music and storytelling into the Visual Arts.

    She has an interest in multiculturalism, and has researched the cultures of: the Iroquois, Hopi, Haida and Navajo; the Aborigines of Australia and the ancient Egyptians. She was fortunate enough to visit the great pyramids of Giza, and Tutankhamen’s tomb! She has been able to incorporate these experiences and cultures into her arts integration curriculum.

  • Robin ColwellRobin Colwell

    Mrs. Robin Cannon Colwell recently relocated to Tucson from New York City, where she worked as a Teaching Artist in drama, music, and creative dance for over 12 years. She also designed curriculum and taught for Literacy Through the Arts with Arts For All NYC. Robin served as Director of Education for Infinity Theatre Company since 2010, where she ran the high school and college internship programs, taught workshops, and produced Theatre for Young Audiences. She had the opportunity to work with Harlem Children’s Theatre Festival, where she directed and co-wrote original TYA works. She is also a children's musician, performing at live events as Captain Robin (with her hot pink guitar, Pinkerton). Most recently, Ms. Colwell taught theatre full time at The Chester Park School in Queens, New York. She holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from The University of Mississippi and M.S. ED Educational Theatre from The City College of New York with Theatre Certification K – 12. Robin is thrilled to join OMA as an Arts Integration Specialist and looks forward to being a part of the Tucson community along with her husband, Clayton, and 1-year-old son, Ralph.

  • Jodi DarlingJodi Darling

    Mrs. Darling grew up in Tucson and graduated from Northern Arizona University with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance. After graduating, Jodi lived in New York City for 10 years working as an actress locally, regionally and on several national tours. Since returning to Tucson in 2006, she has taught Kindermusik and private voice as well as many after-school musical theatre classes for TUSD and TVUSD. She recently taught choir, drama and musical theatre at Secrist MS for two years. She has also performed locally for Arts Express, The Great American Playhouse, Roadrunner Theatre, Lonely Street Productions, Khris Dodge Entertainment, Arizona Choral Society and SAPAC. She and her husband Chach have two kids Julia and Gabriel. Jodi is currently an Arts Integrated Specialist in the TUSD OMA program at Sewell Elementary.

  • Miranda DeBrettoMiranda DeBretto

    Miranda DeBretto became an Arts Integration Specialist (AIS) in 2018 after earning her Masters in Flute Performance from the University of Arizona.  There, she was a member of the Fred Fox Graduate Wind Quintet, and served as principal flutist in the Arizona Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble.  Originally from Negaunee, Michigan, Miranda received her Bachelor's Degree in Music Education and Flute Performance from Illinois State University.  Miranda has taught privately throughout Michigan, Illinois, and Arizona.  She has also participated in festivals and tours across the U.S. and U.K. Miranda is currently the principal flutist of the Sierra Vista Symphony Orchestra and maintains a private flute studio in Tucson, AZ.  As an AIS, Miranda feels privileged to serve in a role that encourages students to think more creatively about the world around them.  Her time as part of Opening Minds through the Arts (OMA) family has only solidified her belief that the arts are an essential, valuable part of life and education.

  • Hillary DouglasHillary Douglas

    Ms. Douglas joined the OMA team as an Art Integration Specialist for Visual Art in January of 2016. Art was always Hillary’s favorite subject in school. She benefited from the encouragement of several inspirational art teachers, which motivated her to become an art teacher herself. Originally from New Hampshire, Hillary earned her BFA in Community Art Education from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston in 2006. After traveling to China in 2007, to teach art at the high school level, she moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico in 2008, where she taught middle school art for five years. Though many in her school community thought of her class as the “fun class,” she found incredible value in reinforcing academic learning and testing strategies through art. In 2013, Hillary moved once again to Tucson, to study art education at the graduate level at the University of Arizona. As a graduate instructor, she taught aspiring undergraduate level art teachers how to be successful in their first years of teaching. Internships at the University of Arizona Museum of Art and Fallingwater, the historic house museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, furthered her understanding of how museums help people understand and make connections to art. Hillary is passionate about art and sharing her expertise and experiences with the TUSD community.

  • Alexsandra EspositoAlexsandra Esposito

    Ms. Alexsandra Esposito is an Arts Integration Specialist who teaches OMA Music and OMA opera at Cragin Elementary and Dietz K-8 school.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Arizona while also completing a German Studies minor at Die Freie Universität Berlin.  After student teaching, she taught the 21st Century Summer Music Program and participated in a summer conducting program.  Audivi Vocem.  Ms. Esposito has been a guest conductor for several churches around Tucson Arizona, and in 2015 was the recipient of the National Association for Music Education Arizona Choral Education Award.

    In addition to teaching, Ms. Esposito's great passion is performing opera and musical theater.  Recent works include Julie in Some Enchanted Evening - The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein with Oro Valley Theatre Company, soprano soloist in Orff's Carmina Burana with Helios Ensemble and Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra; and soprano soloist in Handel's Messiah with Christ Presbyterian Church.

  • Karen FieldsKaren Fields

    Ms. Fields world went from black-and-white to vibrant color when the arts entered her life as a child. Since 2002, Karen has been passionately devoted to bringing the arts to children in Tucson as an Arts Integration Specialist.  Karen has been the AIS at Lineweaver Elementary since 2007.  Karen took a roundabout journey into teaching, earning a BS degree in Political Science with strong emphasis in economics, math and science from ASU.  After being contracted by parent organizations to bring music into elementary school classrooms around TUSD for several years, Karen decided teaching was her passion and career choice, and earned a Post-baccalaureate in Elementary Education from U of A.  She has earned Orff 1 and 2 certification.   OMA was a perfect fit for Karen -- uniting the joy of the arts with the power of the arts to teach and reinforce student learning.  Karen loves providing Visual Arts, General Music, beginning & advanced recorder, before School choir, and Band instruction to her students at Lineweaver.

  • Joshua FloydJoshua Floyd

    Mr. Joshua Floyd is the current OMA Arts Integration Specialist at Warren Elementary and band director at Ford and Lineweaver Elementaries.  Joshua has been working with TUSD since 2017, shortly after completing a semester of student teaching at Lineweaver Elementary. He recently graduated from the University of Arizona in 2019 with a Masters in Educational Psychology.  Joshua is an active member of the fine arts community in Tucson through his participation in various vocal and instrumental ensembles.

  • Catherine GaleCatherine Gale

    Catherine Gale started teaching in 2013. She got her Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Arizona. She taught in her hometown of Phoenix before joining the TUSD Fine Arts staff in 2015, where band was her primary focus for years. Catherine joined the Arts Integration Specialist in 2019. She currently teaches OMA and band at Fruchthendler elementary school, with an emphasis on creativity and performance.

  • Sara GaschoSara Gascho

    Sara's love for the Arts began while growing up in Lancaster, PA, where she sang in choirs and studied piano and voice, becoming an accomplished and award winning singer. Sara studied Musical Theater at the renown Tish School of the Arts. Realizing her calling lay elsewhere, Sara finished her degree at Temple University's Boyer College of Music with a Bachelor's in Music Education, summa cum laude. Her fortune took her to Tucson and TUSD. For seven years, she taught choral music at Tucson High Magnet School and then transferred to Sam Hughes elementary to become the OMA AIS. Integrating the Arts with Core Curriculum through Expeditionary Learning at Sam Hughes sparks her creativity, and the opportunities to grow and collaborate with her fellow teachers are endless. She also coordinates the OMA Palooza Concert Informances and offers Choir to 3-5 graders once a week before school.
    Sara is the lead singer of the Tucson-based band, Combo Westside, performing originals and standards throughout Tucson. Their 2nd CD, Full Bloom, received acclaim from Zocalo Magazine and The Tucson Weekly.

  • Bethanne GriffinBethanne Griffin

    Bethanne is a native Tucsonan. Her dance training began at the age of six and includes a foundation built on ballet, tap and jazz. As a former graduate of Tucson High Magnet School, she was introduced to modern dance and the art of choreography.  In 2001, she moved to New York City and began a teaching career; dancing and training with The Fred Astaire Ballroom Company.  Upon returning to Tucson, she began designing and implementing integrative dance curricula for local fine arts programs. In 2010, she began Dance Aloud, an early childhood fine arts program; introducing children to literature through creative movement. In 2014, Bethanne and her family returned to New York where she spent 9 months working as a Teaching Dance Artist in NYC's public schools. In addition to modern dance, tap, ballroom, Latin and ballet, Bethanne is very excited to add aerial arts to her movement repertoire as she begins a new chapter this year: dancing with silks! She holds a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. She has enthusiastically been working with the OMA program since 2011.

  • Matthew HolterMatthew Holter

    Mr. Holter, originally from Moorhead, Minnesota, is an accomplished lyric tenor and director. Mr. Holter has performed and directed throughout the Western United States and abroad, including China, Russia, Japan and England. His stage credits include numerous roles in opera, musical theatre and dance. Matthew's directing credits include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Peter Pan, H.M.S. Pinafore, and Godspell to name a few. He maintains a career as a professional soloist and chorister having performed with various ensembles from the greater Tucson area including the Arizona Early Music Society and the Tucson Chamber Artists. Mr. Holter is an Arts Integration Specialist for TUSD with the Opening Minds through the Arts program that provides fine arts residencies to schools throughout the district and a vocal instructor at Trollwood Performing Arts School through the Fargo Public Schools during the summer. Matthew received his Masters degree in Voice from Washington State University and earned his Bachelors degree in Music Education from The University of Arizona. Matthew and his wife, Victoria, live in Tucson with their five children.

  • Chiara LovioChiara Lovio

    Ms. Lovio received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Education from the University of Arizona, and is a certified K-12 Drama/Theatre teacher. She also received her Master of Fine Arts in Theatre for Youth at Arizona State University. Her educational training has been specifically with K-12, but she has taught all ages ranging from preschool to university students. Her Theatre experiences include working with Seattle Children's Theatre, Metro Children's Theatre in St. Louis, and Cornerstone Theatre Company in Los Angeles. Local teaching experiences have been with Live Theatre Workshop, Fine Arts Youth Academy, and Catalina Foothills Summer Program.

    She was born and raised in Tucson and is proud to have grown up attending TUSD schools. As an Arts Integration Specialist, with the Opening Minds Through the Arts program, she feels very fortunate to be able to teach Theatre and to learn about the other three art forms as well, Music, Visual Art, and Dance.

  • Jeffrey RequadtJeffrey Requadt

    Mr. Requadt spent the majority of his childhood living in Tucson, France and Côte d’Ivoire (West Africa). He began taking piano lessons at the age of five and continued to study piano throughout high school and into college, receiving “First Mention” in an area-wide West African piano competition in 1998. Jeff has been teaching and performing piano publically as a soloist and accompanist since 1993 (often for churches and weddings), and has been teaching piano for almost as long. Jeff has also performed with choral groups in high school and college. One special highlight was performing in a mass choir under the baton of John Rutter at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 2004. In 2005, Jeff graduated from Southwestern College with a degree in Elementary Education and taught third grade at Dietz K-8 School from 2006 to 2014. He enjoys using musical concepts and skills both to expand his students’ minds as well as to teach concepts in other disciplines such as reading, writing, science, and math. Jeff is excited to begin the 2017-2018 school year as an Arts Integration Specialist in the OMA Exploratory Residency.

  • Jeff SimpsonJeff Simpson

    Mr. Simpson is a Tucson based musician and a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Music Education program. A vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Jeff has recently performed with a wide variety of groups such as the pan-African pop band The Key Ingredients of African Soul, the acapella vocal troupe Catacoustic Groove, and the Brazilian rock band Batucaxé – also serving as an assistant director for its community drumming ensemble.

    During a career spanning over 30 years, Jeff has worn many hats as a performer: staff singer in a church choir, jazz/blues/rock trumpet player, ukulele and kazoo busker, punk-rock singer and guitarist, and hootenanny troubadour. He has always been passionate about exploring the connections between seemingly unrelated styles and disciplines, and is eager to apply his knowledge, experience, and creativity as an OMA Arts Integration Specialist at Tully Elementary.

  • Jose (Chach) SnookJose (Chach) Snook

    José “Chach” Snook is originally from Napa, California and has performed in 46 states and 13 countries. For almost 10 years, Chach lived in NYC as a professional singer/actor appearing and touring in a number of shows including Forever Plaid (National Tour). He was also a member of the jazz a cappella group, Pieces of 8. In Tucson, he has been seen singing with Khris Dodge Entertainment, Lonely Street Productions, Every Era Entertainment, the Doo Wop sensation, and The 4GENTS. Chach directed Godspell and has directed/starred in a successful run of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (MAC Nominations for Best Musical, Best Director and Best Actor) and Triumph of Love (MAC Nominations for Best Musical and Best Director). He also had the honor of performing in Les Misèrables with his daughter in 2014. Chach has a Vocal Performance degree from Northern Arizona University and was the choir/drama teacher at Flowing Wells J.H. School where he directed over 20 plays/musicals and conducted almost 2,000 choir students over the span of 12 years. In 2013, he was named a Top 5 Teacher of the Year for Arizona and in 2016 he was named Latino Teacher of the Year for Arizona. Much love goes to his family Julia, Gabriel and wife, Jodi Darling.

  • Michelle SugameliMichelle Sugameli

    Michelle was born and raised in Tucson with a life that has been inspired by visual arts. Encouraged by her high school art teacher to pursue a career in Visual Arts, Michelle graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in Art Education in 2006. Upon graduation, Michelle was accepted into TUSD's Smithsonian Internship Program, where she spent the summer gathering educational resources at the Natural History Museum in Washington D.C. Returning to Tucson, Michelle taught with the TUSD Arts Mobile and as part time art instructor at two elementary schools. In 2008 Michelle taught Visual Art and Ceramics to middle school and high school students in the Marana Unified School District. Throughout the last 12 years Michelle has worked in her free time with a local ceramic artist, Nina Borgia Aberle, in art projects throughout the Tucson area. Michelle enjoys developing her own art work in her free time in the mediums of painting and ceramics. Michelle Sugameli has always had a special love for teaching elementary school and is excited about the up and coming school year as the Arts Integration Specialist.

  • Trista TamuraTrista Tamura

    Ms. Tamura received her BS and Master's degree in elementary education from the University of Oregon. In 2008, she relocated to Tucson and began her elementary teaching career as a 2nd grade teacher. While teaching, Trista focused on helping students that gravitated towards the arts, much like her younger self. She has been involved with the arts since she was young from drawing and painting at an early age to being expected to learn how to read music and play a musical instrument. As a teacher, she found joy in sharing visual arts with her students through integration and found that her students were more engaged and retained more information.
    While Trista enjoyed regular classroom teaching, she knew that she felt a natural calling to dive deeper into teaching in tandem with the arts. She decided to pursue a career in visual arts integration through OMA and has found true joy in bringing the arts to many students throughout TUSD.

  • Chika WillisChika Willis

    Ms. Chika Willis was born and raised in Kyoto City in Japan. She studied in Bukkyo University and earned a bachelor's degree in Japanese Literature and received a provisional teaching license for secondary education in Japan. Instead of pursuing teaching careers in Kyoto, Chika came to Tucson and attended CESL at the University of Arizona learning English with people from all over the world. Soon she earned an Associate degree of American Indian Studies at Pima College. Chika decided to become a teacher in America and began study in the College of Education at U of A. After 4 years of teaching at Altar Valley School District, she started teaching kindergarten at Van Buskirk Elementary School in 2004 and learned about the OMA program, Dr. Karen Yeager, the former OMA Arts Integration Specialist (AIS), took Chika under her wings and gave her many opportunities to understand arts integration programs.  When  Dr. Yeager retired, Chika decided to follow her path and became a new OMA AIS at Van Buskirk. Her work was recognized by school staff and awarded the TUSD campus teacher of the year in 2017-18SY. 

    Visual arts, Manga, and Anime have been a big part of her life since she was a little child. Chika enjoys drawing and painting pictures. She once worked as a volunteer stage make-up artist at a local dance studio and helped child dancers for 9 years.  Chika is delighted that her art skills have helped her students' learning and their success.

  • Jennifer WortmanJennifer Wortman

    Ms. Jennifer Wortman is a native Tucsonan who went through Tucson Unified public K-12 Magnet Schools.  She is currently in her 21st year of teaching and her 7th year as an OMA Arts Integration Specialist at Dietz K-8 teaching K-4 and the 5th - 8th grade Choirs.  She received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Northern Arizona University and her Masters in Choral Conducting from California State University Los Angeles.  She was the choir teacher at Palo Verde High School for twelve years as well as the founder of the Palo Verde Alumni and Faculty Choirs. Ms. Wortman is a past president of the Arizona Choral Educators, has been a clinician and conductor for various festivals as well as the Tucson Girls Chorus. She is currently the Choir Director of the Adult and Children's Choir at Tanque Verde Lutheran Church.  Ms. Wortman lives in Tucson with her husband and two boys.

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