Mr. Rudy Gilbert is currently in his 23rd year of teaching as the Director of Bands and Performing Arts Department Chair at North Gwinnett High School. He is also the High School Band Lead Teacher for the Gwinnett County Public Schools.
Bands under his direction have earned numerous awards at the national and regional levels. They have performed at the GMEA Annual In-Service Conference in 2007 and the University of Georgia January High School Music Festival in 2005, 2010 and 2012. First place honors were awarded to bands under his direction at national festivals held in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, New Orleans, Orlando and Atlanta.
Mr. Gilbert holds a position on the staff of the Georgia Ambassadors of Music having completed eight highly successful European tours. Prior to his appointment at NGHS, Mr. Gilbert was the Director of Bands at Norcross High School (2001-2011), at South Effingham High School in Guyton, Georgia (1996-2001) and the Assistant Director of Bands at Effingham County High School (1994-1996).
Mr. Gilbert is honored to have been named the 2008-2009 Norcross High School Teacher of the Year. He was presented the Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association in January 2005, 2007 and 2010 and was inducted into the Georgia Chapter of Phi Beta Mu in March 2006. He remains an active clinician of honor bands and adjudicator of performances across the Southeastern United States. Mr. Gilbert has served GMEA in District I as the Band Division Chair, Honor Band Organizing Chair, First Round Audition Chair, and in District 13 as the Band Division Chair, First Round Audition Chair and Honor Band Organizing Chair.
Mr. Gilbert is a native of Mandeville, Louisiana. He earned his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Louisiana State University in 1991 and a Master of Music degree in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1994. He has studied conducting with Professor Thomas L. Dvorak at UWM and Professor Frank B. Wickes at LSU and studied percussion with Dr. John Raush at LSU. Mr. Gilbert remains sincerely appreciative of his first band directors, Mr. John Gilmer at Collierville Middle School in Collierville, Tennessee and Mr. Doug Bergeron at Mandeville High School in Mandeville, Louisiana.
He and his wife Amanda, an Assistant Principal at Creekland Middle School reside in Suwanee and are proud to be part of the North Gwinnett High School community.
Bob Steelnack is in his 21st year as a band director, and third as the band director at Cartersville High School in Cartersville, Georgia. Prior appointments include Pepperell High School in Lindale, assistant director at Emma Sansom High School in Gadsden, Alabama and as band director at Ragland High School in Alabama.
Mr. Steelnack holds a Master of Science in Education degree from Troy University, studying under James Smith, Ralph Ford, Ray Smith and Robert W. Smith, and a Bachelor of Music Education degree with Special Honors in Music from Jacksonville State University, studying under Dr. Ronald C. Attinger, Dr. M. Scott McBride, Dr. Kenneth G. Bodiford and Dr. Chris Culver. Prior to attending JSU he served as Saxophonist in the Army band program, assigned to the 14th Army Band at Ft. McClellan, Alabama. He graduated first in his class and earned a C1 instrumental proficiency qualifier while at the Armed Forces School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia. Mr. Steelnack also attended the University of South Florida and studied saxophone with Art Woodbury, and played in ensembles conducted by Jerry Junkin and Chuck Owen. Bob is a 1986 graduate of Pinellas Park High School in Largo, Florida, where he was under the direction and guidance of Mr. Ray Smith.
Mr. Steelnack’s high school bands have earned top honors at regional concert and marching band competitions, and have performed in Chicago, Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, Gatlinburg, Orlando and Washington, D.C. in recent years. Bob has performed professionally as a saxophonist and clarinetist with artists such as the Temptations, the Florida Orchestra, the Clocktower Jazz Ensemble, Ready-or-Not, and numerous community bands and shows. He has been featured as a soloist with various high school and collegiate ensembles, including the Troy University Summer Band and the JSU Symphonic Band, and appeared along with the Clocktower Jazz Ensemble in the 2002 feature film, “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Bob has served GMEA in numerous capacities since moving to Georgia in 2000. He has hosted district and all-state first-round auditions more than 10 times, LGPE (twice), and district jazz auditions and honor events. Bob has served as District 7 Chair (two terms) and as District 7 Band Chair, as well as president of GAJE. Professional and collegiate memberships include NAfME, GMEA, Phi Beta Mu, ASBDA, JEN, Phi Kappa Phi, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He is married to harpist Fay Ellen Steelnack and combined have four grown children and a grandson, and a Boston terrier named Sachi.
Marla Baldwin is in her 21st year as a choral educator in Cobb County, Georgia. Currently, she is the director at Palmer Middle School where she was honored as Teacher of the Year in 2013. Her students perform throughout the community at county leadership meetings, nursing homes, local museums, community festivals, as well as collaborative concerts with her feeder elementary schools and high schools. Marla often serves as mentor to choral directors as they begin their teaching careers and is frequently called upon to take leadership roles at both the local and state levels. As an active member of GMEA, she has served as District XII choral chairperson, organizer for All State Chorus, presenter at In-Service Conference, chairman of the All State Standing Committee and organizer of Large Group Performance Evaluation. Marla is passionate about empowering students through music, advocating for our profession, and providing experiences for all to see the beauty of our art form. Although she is said to be a great teacher and musician, Marla is often sought after for her invaluable skill as a page-turner.
Suzanne D. Grant is the Choral Director and Department Chair at Northwestern Middle School in Fulton County. She is also part of Fulton County’s Music Education Leadership Team serving as the Fulton County Fine Arts Support Teacher for Chorus where her duties include mentoring teachers, planning professional development for the county and serving as an advocate for music education in Fulton County and throughout the state. Before coming to Northwestern in 2012 from New York City where she lived and worked as a freelance musician and music teacher Ms. Grant taught Choral Music at Haynes Bridge Middle School, Centennial High School and The Peggy Still School of Music. She has also taught in Fayette County and Lawton, Oklahoma.
Ms. Grant has held a number of leadership roles in GMEA including District 5 Choral Chair, All-State Committee Chair, District 5 Honor Chorus organizer, District 6 Honor Chorus organizer, District 5 LGPE organizer, District 6 LGPE organizer, Choir Organizer for the Sixth Grade State-wide Honor Chorus and Choir Organizer for All-State Chorus.
Choirs under Ms. Grant’s direction were invited to perform at the 2014 Georgia Music Educators’ Association In-Service Conference. Her choirs have consistently earned Superiors in both performance and sight-reading at LGPE and are routinely invited to sing for special events around the metro area. She is also a highly requested guest clinician for honor choirs around the southeast.
Ms. Grant is a former member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, under the direction of Robert Shaw. She holds a Master’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Georgia where she also finished her undergraduate work after attending Shorter College for 2 years.
Dr. Marc F. Boensel, DMA, has been conducting bands, orchestras and choruses in California, Virginia, Maryland, and Georgia for nearly 30 years. In the fall of 2016, he became an assistant professor of music at Andrew College in Cuthbert, GA.
From 2012 until 2016, Dr. Boensel was on the faculty of Darton State College in Albany, GA as an Assistant Professor of Music, where he conducted the Concert Band, Concert Choir, and taught courses in music theory, music history, and church music. In 2014, he became the Director of Music Ministries at Porterfield United Methodist Church, where he directs the Chancel Choir, and other musical ensembles.
Dr. Boensel was Director of Music for First Presbyterian Church of Annapolis 1996 to 2012, where he directed the 40-voice Chancel Choir, Handbell Choir and children‘s choir. He has also been a guest conductor and clinician for professional, collegiate and high school ensembles throughout the mid-Atlantic.
In addition to being the Symphonic Band Conductor-in-Residence and Adjunct Professor of Music at American University (2009-2012), Marc was Concert Band director and Adjunct Professor of Music at Anne Arundel Community College (2007-2012), where he taught courses in music history and music theory. He continues a career as a professional oboist and vocalist that has spanned over three decades, including 22 years as a conductor and performer in U.S. Navy and Air Force bands as well as various orchestras in California, Virginia, Maryland, and Georgia.
He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from California State University Fullerton, a Master of Music degree from San Diego State University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from the University of Maryland. He has studied conducting with Benton Minor, Edmund Williams, Robert Gilson, John Wakefield, and James Ross, and studied oboe with Larry Timm and Peggy Michel.
Josh Byrd serves as Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Music at the University of West Georgia. His primary responsibilities include conducting the Wind Ensemble, teaching music education classes, supervising student teachers, and administrating all aspects of the UWG band program. Prior to his appointment he served as Director of Bands for Arrowhead High School in Hartland, Wisconsin and Assistant Director of Bands at Lanier Middle School and Norcross High School in Gwinnett County, Georgia.
Dr. Byrd received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting from the University of Georgia where he studied conducting with John Lynch and minored in Music Theory. He received his Master of Music degree in Conducting while studying with Tom Dvorak at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Georgia where he studied saxophone with Kenneth Fischer.
His professional affiliations include Georgia Music Educator’s Association, National Association for Music Education, College Band Directors National Association, the National Band Association, Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and Kappa Kappa Psi.
Jenny Chambless is in her 12th year teaching in Gwinnett County Public Schools and is currently the Music Specialist at Chattahoochee Elementary School in Duluth, GA. Since coming to Chattahoochee Elementary, she has begun an Orff/DRUM ensemble, Little Kids Rock guitar program, continued the established Chorus, and just this past month received a grant for classroom ukuleles.
She has been involved in GMEA since 2001 as a student at Georgia Perimeter College where she was a CMENC member and recipient of a GMEA scholarship in 2002. Continuing her education, she received a Bachelors Degree in Music Education in December 2004 from the University of Georgia. She presented at GMEA in January 2016.
Because of the influence that GMEA has had on her life and career, allowing her students to experience GMEA events has always been a priority. She has sponsored students to both 6th Grade Statewide Honor Chorus and Statewide Elementary Honor Chorus every year since taking her first teaching job in 2005. She has organized the SEHC Vivace Choir since 2014.
Ms. Chambless is currently President of the Atlanta Chapter AOSA and has served in many capacities during her membership. This past summer, Level 3 coursework for AOSA was completed. Her school, Chattahoochee Elementary is the host site for chapter meetings.
Serving as co-lead teacher for Gwinnett County Elementary Music from 2012 to 2014 she was on the GCPS team that wrote the test items for SPG/SLO assessments. She is also a member of the County Honor Chorus Steering Committee (2011-2017)
Reading, cooking, and spending time with her husband, three married sons and daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren are among the things that she enjoys.
Many years I ponder in other areas of life to finally come to the realization that sharing my love and passion of music is what I do to complete who I am. I started teaching as career change to give back to a young society that seem to be losing the elegance of music in my neighbor. I started my 8th year teaching in the Dougherty County School System. I completed seven years at Lincoln Elementary Magnet School before transferring to my current assignment as the Elementary Music Specialist at Sherwood Acres Elementary Magnet School in Albany, GA. As I transitioned to Sherwood Acres, I established the Sherwood Acres Roaring Panthers Choral Ensembles and became a member of the Sherwood Acres Leadership Team.
In addition to teaching, I am an active member of GMEA. Since 2008, I have served as the District 2 Elementary Chair, a member of GMEA Elementary Council, a presenter at GMEA In-Service Conference, and sponsored students to the Statewide Elementary Honor Chorus. GMEA brings great joy to my life, and I was so honored to be selected in 2014 to attend the GMEA Leadership Symposium. However, with my interests in composing, traveling, and spending quality time with my husband, I enjoy all aspects of my lifestyle. I very proud to be a 1994 graduate of Albany State College. Continuing my education at Albany State University and through the South Georgia RESA/TAPP Program I obtained my Georgia Teacher Certificate in 2011.
Ashley Culley is currently Orchestra Director at Dodgen Middle School in Cobb County, Georgia. She has been an orchestra director for eighteen years with the last twelve years at Dodgen. While at Dodgen, the orchestra program has grown from 190 students to 380 students. The Dodgen Orchestra program has a Cello Choir, Viola Choir, Bass Ensemble, Wire Choir and Chamber Orchestra that perform for events at the school and around the community. Her orchestras consistently earn Superior Ratings at L.G.P.E. The Dodgen 8th Grade Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra have been invited to perform at the G.M.E.A. In-Service Conference in 2007, 2011 and 2015. In March 2017, the Dodgen Chamber Orchestra will perform at the A.S.T.A. National School Orchestra Festival in Pittsburg. Her prior teaching experiences include Kell High School in Cobb County, Georgia and Milton High School, Northwestern Middle School and several elementary schools in Fulton County, Georgia.
Mrs. Culley earned a Bachelor of Music Education with Performance Certificate from the University of South Carolina. While at USC, she worked and trained in the nationally-acclaimed U.S.C String Project. She earned a Master of Music in Cello Performance and a Master of Arts in String Pedagogy from the Ohio State University. While at Ohio State, she was the Graduate Teaching Assistant in charge of the Pre-College Strings Program and assisted with the Columbus Junior Strings Orchestra.
Mrs. Culley is an active performer, clinician and adjudicator. She has performed with several ensembles in the Atlanta area. As an adjudicator and clinician, she has worked with many orchestras and honor events in Georgia, Ohio and South Carolina. In November 2009, Mrs. Culley was the conductor of the South Carolina– Midlands Junior Regional Orchestra.
Mrs. Culley is a member of A.S.T.A and N.A.f.M.E. She serves as Teacher Leader for Middle School Orchestras in Cobb County Schools. She is the Director of the East Cobb Upbeat! String Camp. Currently, she is the District 12 Georgia All-State Orchestra chairperson; District 12 M.S Honor Orchestra organizer; and the District 12 MS North-East LGPE Organizer. She served as the 9-10 All-State Orchestra Organizer from 2006-2008.
Mrs. Culley lives in Marietta with her husband, David, and their two daughters.
Sam Lowder started teaching orchestra in 1997. He is currently the Orchestra Director at Woodland Middle School-Stockbridge in Henry County. Prior to his move to Henry County, Mr. Lowder taught middle school and high school orchestra for ten years in Clayton County where he also served as the Orchestra Lead Teacher and Director of the Clayton County Middle School Honor Orchestra.
Orchestras under the direction of Mr. Lowder have consistently received superior and excellent ratings in large group and solo/ensemble performance evaluations. His students have participated in the All State Orchestra, district and state-wide honor orchestras, in performances in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and Chicago, and in various summer music camps.
Mr. Lowder earned his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and Performance from Georgia Southern University and his Masters degree in Music Education from the University of Georgia. The son of two retired Georgia school teachers, he is also proud to be a National Board Certified Teacher. He has been named Teacher of the Year in both Clayton County (Lovejoy Middle School) and Henry County (Woodland Middle School-Stockbridge).
Mr. Lowder is currently the Georgia Music Educators Association’s District VI Orchestra Chair as well as the President of the Georgia Chapter of the American String Teachers Association. A GMEA Certified Head Adjudicator, he has judged performance evaluations and directed in clinics throughout Georgia. Mr. Lowder has served as the Fine Arts and Connections Department Chair in his schools for the majority of his teaching career. Mr. Lowder is proud of his history as an instructor and conductor at the Encore and the Georgia-ASTA Summer Camps.
In addition to teaching, Mr. Lowder plays the cello with the Southern Crescent Symphony Orchestra and the Jonesboro First Baptist Church Orchestra. He performs regularly in various church orchestras and chamber ensembles for special occasions. Mr. Lowder enjoys traveling and movies. He lives in McDonough with his wife, Mahli.