Band Division Chair
Travis Downs has been sharing his love of music with students for 21 years. He is currently in his sixth year at North Gwinnett Middle School (NGMS) - recently named “Music Program of the Year” by the Georgia Music Educators Association. Before his appointment at North Gwinnett in 2013, Mr. Downs served as the Director of Bands at Valdosta Middle School (VMS) in Valdosta, Ga., Assistant Band Director at VMS, and Assistant Band Director at Tapp Middle School in Cobb County, Ga.
Mr. Downs has taught with and written for high school and university marching programs across the Southeast. In addition, he served on the percussion staffs for Carolina Crown and the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps and, for 13 years, he has been a member of the faculty for the North Georgia Percussion Camp.
Ensembles under Mr. Downs’ direction have been invited to play at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, the Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival, the Music for All Southeastern Regional Concert Festival, the Georgia Music Educators Association Annual In-Service Conference, the University of Georgia Middle School Festival, and the Grand National Adjudicators Invitational. In addition, the VMS and NGMS Band programs have been the recipient of the GMEA “Exemplary Performance Award.”
A six-time recipient of the National Band Association’s Citation of Excellence award, Mr. Downs is a member of the Vic Firth Educational Team and a Yamaha Artist/Clinician. He is the GMEA District 13 middle school band chair and has served on the GMEA All-State Band Committee. Mr. Downs’ professional affiliations include the National Association for Music Education, the National Band Association, the Georgia Music Educators Association, Phi Beta Mu, Pi Kappa Lambda, and the Percussive Arts Society.
Mr. Downs earned his Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Georgia and Master of Music degree in Percussion Performance from Louisiana State University.
Christine Kraemer is the Band Director at Renfroe Middle School in the City Schools of Decatur.
Prior to this appointment, for 14 years, she was the Director of Bands at Cousins Middle School in Covington, Georgia where she also served in the capacity of K-12 Music Content Specialists for Newton County Schools. Ms. Kraemer’s bands earned only Superior Ratings while participating at the GMEA LGPE performances for twelve consecutive years. Students from the Cousins Band Program were consistently awarded positions in the District IV Middle School Honor Bands. For ten consecutive years, a total of nineteen students earned a place in the GMEA All State Band. In 2009 Mrs. Kraemer was named Teacher of the Year for Cousins Middle School and Newton County Schools.
Ms. Kraemer has co-authored and implemented “Power in the Progress System” a curriculum for Middle and High School Band and Orchestra students. The Power textbook and Student Achievement Tracking System (SATS) Database serves as a model for developing student performance portfolios in the performing arts.
Ms. Kraemer served on the Georgia Performance Standards development committee for Band in 2011. Most recently, Ms. Kraemer served on the Georgia Standards of Excellence revision committee at the Georgia Department of Education in the fall of 2017.
During Ms. Kraemer’s affiliation with the Georgia Music Educators Association, she has served in several leadership positions. She is currently the District Chair for District IV. She was elected the District IV Band Chair for two consecutive terms serving from 2014 - 2018. For the past 12 years she has hosted and organized the Middle School District All State Auditions for District IV. In addition, she is currently serving on the LGPE Music Selection Committee for grades IV – VI.
In 2018 Ms. Kraemer became a member of the Georgia All State Band standing committee. She serves as a judge and monitor for the second round All State auditions. She is also an active adjudicator for Solo and Ensemble Evaluations in several districts.
Ms. Kraemer has presented clinics at the GMEA In Service conference on numerous occasions. In 2009 she presented a clinic about the Power in the Progress System. In 2012 she developed and presented a clinic entitled “Teach Everyone!” a Music Advocacy clinic about communicating with students, parents, and administrators. In 2017 she presented a clinic with Dr. Jacquelyn Hartenberger and Dr. Dwight Satterwhite from the University of Georgia, entitled “March your Way to a Better Band….Build Great Bands through Great March Literature”. She also presented two clinics in 2018, entitled “Warm Up Work Outs!”, and “GMEA 1.0”.
In addition to teaching, Ms. Kraemer serves is an adjudicator and clinician of Bands and Orchestras from across the United States and Canada with WorldStrides Educational Performance Programs.
Prior to teaching at Cousins Middle School, Ms. Kraemer earned a Masters degree in Conducting (2004) and a Masters degree in Music Education (2002) while working as a graduate assistant for the University of Georgia Bands and Ethnomusicology departments.
Ms. Kraemer was the Director of Bands at Lee County Middle School in Lee County, Georgia (1996 – 2000). She also served as Assistant Director to Lee County High School Marching Band and Auxiliary supervisor.
Christine Kraemer graduated with honors, Magna cum Laude, from Columbus State University earning her Bachelors degree in Music Education in 1996 with an emphasis in Woodwind Pedagogy. Ms. Kraemer studied clarinet with Dr. Edwin Riley and performed with the Columbus State University Wind Symphony under the direction of Dr. William Fry, Ms. Paula Crider, and Col. Hal Gibson.
Choral Division Chair
MICHELLE AUSTIN LEVESQUE
Michelle Austin Levesque is currently on faculty at Alpharetta High School where she has served as the Director of Choral Activities since 2012. She also teaches AP Music Theory, IB Music, Guitar and Musical Theatre, and actively works with multiple extracurricular ensembles and clubs at AHS. She is the current GMEA All-State Reading Chorus organizer and GMEA All-State Chorus Region 3 Chair. She has also organized District V Honor Chorus.
Mrs. Levesque holds her Master of Music in Choral Conducting from The University of Alabama where she studied conducting with Dr. John Ratledge and voice with Dr. Jennifer Cowgill, and a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Shorter College where she studied conducting with Dr. Martha Shaw and voice with Dr. Linda Lister, Dr. Brian Nedvin, and Dr. Sherri Weiler. Levesque is an active chorister, currently performing with Coro Vocati (www.corovocati.com). She is a former member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus (2012-2018). She lives in Roswell with her husband Brian and two dog children, Layla and Bailey.
scott l. martin
Scott L. Martin is the choral director at Creekview High School in Canton, GA. Mr. Martin holds a Master of Music Education degree from The University of Georgia and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Shorter College, where he was a voice student of John Ramsaur, a conducting student of John Ratledge, and a NATS winner. In his twenty-first year of teaching, Scott has a diverse teaching background having taught in both South Georgia and North Georgia, public and private schools, rural and urban, as well as both middle and high schools. As a clinician, Mr. Martin has conducted various honor choirs around Georgia and is an adjudicator for the Georgia Music Educator’s Association Choral Performance Evaluation. Choirs under his direction have been selected to perform for the Georgia Music Association conferences as well as state and regional American Choral Directors Association conferences. Mr. Martin’s choral groups routinely earn superior ratings at performance evaluation in both performance and sight-reading. His professional memberships include the National Association for Music Education, Georgia Music Educator’s Association, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and the American Choral Director’s Association, where he is the GA ACDA Repertoire and Resources Chair for High School Choirs. In addition to his choir directing duties he is a frequent guest soloist and a former member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and the Atlanta based chamber choir Coro Vocati. Mr. Martin co-founded the Orpheus Men’s Ensemble, a chamber choir of local choral directors and church music directors. In addition to his duties at Creekview High School, Mr. Martin is principal conductor of the Cherokee Chorale, a community choir based in Canton, GA. Mr. Martin resides in Canton with his wife, Laura, and children, Joseph and Emily.
Elementary Division Chair
Amie McCaleb Is in her 18th year of teaching in Gwinnett County Public Schools and is currently the Music Specialist at Lawrenceville Elementary School in Lawrenceville, GA. Ms. McCaleb received her Bachelor of Music Therapy at Georgia College and State University and her Masters of Music Education at VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, IL. She has completed her Certification in Orff Levels I, II, III, as well as a Recorder Master Class. During her time as the Music Specialist at Lawrenceville Elementary, McCaleb has continued the established chorus program, developed a new Little Kids Rock Modern Band program through a Little Kids Rock grant in cooperation with Moe’s Southwest Grill, and is serving her 3rd year as Co-Chair for the GCPS 5th Grade Honor Chorus. As an active member in GMEA since 2001, Ms. McCaleb has sponsored students participating in Statewide Elementary Honor Chorus, 6th Grade Statewide Elementary Honor Chorus, 7th and 8th Grade LGPE, District 13 7th & 8th Grade Honor Chorus and District 13 Solo and Ensemble. She currently serves as the District 13 Elementary Music chairperson for the Georgia Music Educators Association and Organizer for the Allegro Choir for GMEA Elementary Statewide Honor Chorus.
Mrs. Christina Richardson is an experienced music educator and event organizer with 22 years of teaching general music, choral music, and private instruction. Mrs. Richardson is currently teaching general music (k-6) and chorus (4-6) at Woodlawn Elementary School in the Murray County School District. She has been teaching thirteen years at Woodlawn. She was named their teacher of the year in 2011. Before teaching at Woodlawn she also taught five years of general music and chorus at Eton Elementary School also in Murray County.
Before coming to Georgia Mrs. Richardson taught 4½ years in southern Tennessee: two of those years teaching general music (7-8) and beginning chorus (7-9) at Trewhitt Junior High School; two other years teaching general music (6-8) and grade level chorus classes (6-8) at Hixson Middle School; and half of a year (Jan. - May) teaching general music at four elementary schools (K-8) each week in Polk County Tennessee.
Mrs. Richardson received her Bachelors of Music Education in 1995 and her Master of Music in 2013 from Lee University in Cleveland, TN. Her major classes focused on general music education, vocal training, and choral conducting. She has been a guest instructor for the senior level music education methods course at Lee University.
Mrs. Richardson has completed 2 levels of American Orff Schulwerk Teacher Education Courses. She completed her first level at Lee University under the instruction of Susan Ramsay and Marilyn Humphreys. Her second level was completed at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music under the instruction of Judith Thomas, Danai Gagne, and Donna Poppe.
Mrs. Richardson is committed to offering her students the best opportunities possible. She has been an active GMEA member since 2001. Students in her chorus have performed at GMEA events every year since 2002: District 7 Elementary Honor Chorus, District 7 Middle School Honor Chorus (6th treble choir), Statewide Elementary Honor Chorus, and 6th Grade State Honor Chorus. In addition to GMEA events her students have performed in Shorter University's Northwest Georgia Choral Festival and in the Georgia ACDA Treble Honor Choir at Spivey Hall. Her chorus has performed at the Georgia Governor's Mansion and at the Atlanta Hawks game. Her choir is regularly requested to sing for local community events.
Mrs. Richardson is a known leader among her colleagues. She enjoys working with professionals in the field and collaborating with others. She has served in her school as Team Leader, on the School Leadership Team, and has been asked to chair schoolwide events. She has served her county school system since 2003 as originator and organizer of the annual countywide Elementary Music Festival. She has been a member of GMEA since 2001 and served GMEA District 7 from 2011-2016 as Elementary Chair organizing their district's elementary meetings, annual Elementary workshop, and annual Elementary Honor Chorus.
Mrs. Richardson has experience in music outside of the school setting as well. From 2004-2006 she served her church as children's choir and musical director. In 2006 she was musical director of the Cleveland TN Youth Community Theater (7th-12th grade) production of School House Rock Live! Jr. She enjoyed traveling to Arizona to teach Summer music camp classes for the Southwest Indian Ministries Summer High School Camp in Manuelito, Arizona. She currently serves her church as the Adult Choir director.
Christina has been married 24 years and has two sons her first is 23 and her second is 2. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, singing at her church, going on nature hikes, cooking, baking, and decorating sweet treats.
Orchestra Division Chair
Stephen Lawrence currently serves as the Director of Orchestral Activities and Department Chair at North Atlanta High School’s Fine and Performing Arts Department. He also serves on the Atlanta Public Schools Arts Resource Team as the District Orchestra Lead. In recent years Stephen has served as the GMEA District V Chair, GMEA District V Orchestra Chair, GA-ASTA Secretary. Stephen has served as a clinician and coach for orchestra programs in Atlanta Public Schools, Cobb County Public Schools, DeKalb County Public Schools, Fayette County Schools, Gwinnett Public Schools and Henry County Public Schools.
Born in Atlanta, GA, Stephen began his musical career at the age of twelve, studying violin, cello and later piano. During his school career, Stephen served as a concertmaster for several orchestras including the Loyola University Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra of Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools Youth Symphony Orchestra, MYSO String Quartet, William Grant Still Memorial Orchestra, and many more. At the age of eighteen, he graduated high school receiving the highest honors at North Atlanta School of the Performing Arts. Stephen is also a 2003 graduate of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Talent Development Program.
Stephen Lawrence earned his bachelor’s degree at Loyola University New Orleans in Music Education specializing in String Education, under the guidance of Dean Angeles and Virginia Olander. He started his teaching career at Joseph C. Wilson Foundation Academy in Rochester, NY where he taught for 2 years, 2 years at Lovejoy High School and is currently in his eighth year at North Atlanta High School where he has been named the 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year and later the 2018-2019 Atlanta Public Schools High School Teacher of the Year.
Shawn Morton is currently in her seventeenth year as an orchestra teacher in Gwinnett County. Mrs. Morton has taught in her current position at Duluth High School for twelve years. Prior to teaching at Duluth High School, she taught five years at Five Forks MS. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and a minor in viola performance. While attending UGA, Mrs. Morton was a member of the Honors program and was president of the UGA chapter of the American String Teachers Association. Mrs. Morton also holds a Masters of Business Administration from Shorter College where she graduated with a 4.0.
Mrs. Morton conducts the Gwinnett County Kendall Youth Orchestra, and she has worked as a sectional coach with the Gwinnett County Youth Symphony, and she has served as a clinician for local school orchestras, the Spivey Hall Chamber Orchestra Workshop, The Gwinnett County Violapalooza Festival, The Gwinnett County 6th Grade Honor Orchestra Workshop, the UGA Summer Music Camp and various other workshops and clinics. Her students have been named as members of Kendall Youth Orchestra, Gwinnett County Youth Symphony, Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra, Emory Youth Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Georgia All-State Orchestra and the National High School Honor Orchestra.
Mrs. Morton’s orchestras have performed at the 2007 Midwest Clinic, 2009 American String Teachers Association Conference, the 2011 Georgia Music Educators Association In-service Conference, the 2013 National Band and Orchestra Festival at Lincoln Center, the 2014 Midwest Clinic, and the 2018 American String Teachers Conference. This year, her orchestra will be performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
Mrs. Morton has served as the secretary for the Georgia Chapter of the American String Teachers Association and as the GMEA District 13 Orchestra Chair. In addition, Mrs. Morton was selected to present at the 2014 GMEA In-service Conference about recruitment and retention of orchestra students. Mrs. Morton will be presenting at the 2019 GMEA Inservice Conference about working with student teachers and the 2019 National ASTA Conference about recruiting and retaining. Recently, she served as one of the writers for the new Georgia Standards of Excellence for Orchestra. Mrs. Morton is a member of the American String Teachers Association, Georgia Music Educators Association, Professional Association of Georgia Educators, and Sigma Beta Delta. She resides in Buford, GA with her husband Dale, son Hudson and dogs Mozart and Aria.