Serving Southwest Florida Music Students since 1991

The Music Foundation of Southwest Florida, Inc.

​ 2018 Summer Camps Faculty and Staff

Camp Director & Recreation/Break Coordinator-Erin Gisse

Erin Gisse earned her Bachelor’s degree at Albion College in Albion, Michigan, where she majored in Education and Political Science with a concentration in Public Policy and Public Service.  She has been teaching in Lee County for the last 10 years and was recently recognized as the Lee County Physical Education Teacher of the Year as well as a Golden Apple Finalist.

Assistant Camp Directior - Megan Pepitone

Morgan Pepitone earned her Bachelor’s degree at Florida Southwestern State College in Fort Myers, Florida, where she majored in Elementary Education.  She has been with the Lee County School District for four years, and this year taught in Special Education at PLDMS.  She previously served in the United States Army at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.  Morgan is currently working on her Master’s degree through University of West Florida. 

Assistant Camp Director - Amy McQueary

Amy McQueary earned her Associate’s Degree at Ivy Tech State College in Terre Haute, Indiana, where she majored in Accounting Technology.  She has been with the Lee County School District for two years and is the secretary for the Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School Fine Arts Association.

Executive Director,  Music Foundation of SW Florida-   Ruth Christman

Ruth Christman earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Concordia University and her Master’s degree in Oboe Performance from Northwestern University. She also has a Professional Studies degree in Oboe Performance from The Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida, now  Lynn University.    Ruth is active as both a performer and teacher and is an adjunct faculty member at Florida SouthWestern College.

Band - Matthew Murrell 

Matthew Murrell earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Florida International University in Miami. He has been the band director at Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School for the past 6 years. He also performs professionally in the community
as a trombonist.

Culinary Arts: LET'S COOK!!! Food Families & Wraps, Snacks and More!! - Tia Paul
TiaPaul has been an educator in Lee County for over 10  years. She earned her degree from the University of South Florida in Tampa. Her more recent accomplishments include teaching middle and high school mathematics alongside her role as an instructional leader and coach at Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School. Helping students experience success is her passion and having grown up in northern Ohio farm country, she spent her formative years keeping a garden with her grandparents and enjoyed cooking with her mother. She brings a unique perspective of teaching students the natural relationship between mathematics and culinary arts. Her classroom is a place filled with interaction, activity, positivity and respect.

Dance - Beginning - Julia Rivait

Digital Design - Vincent Lewis
Vincent Lewis is from Moore Haven Florida. He obtained his BS degree in sports business from Hampton University in Virginia. He also obtained his teaching certification and masters in educational leadership from FGCU. He is certified in Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Adobe Photoshop. He has been teaching for 11 years for the Lee County School District all at Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School.  He currently teaches 6th thru 8th grade Computer Applications 1 & 2, Computing for College and Careers, Business Keyboarding, and Fundamentals of Web and Software Development.

Elementary Music Ensemble - 2019 - Tami Fessenden

Tami Fessenden has been an elementary music teacher at Lake Park Elementary in Collier County for 6 years and the Assistant Band Director with Naples High School for 5 years. They earned their Masters in Curriculum and Instruction in Reading from Florida Gulf Coast and is currently pursuing an Doctor of Education degree. Before teaching they played trumpet for local musicals and for Walt Disney World. 

Elementary Music Ensemble - 2019 - Shana Plunkett

Shana Plunkett has been the music teacher at G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School for five years. She earned her Master’s Degree in Music Education from Kent State University with a focus on general music and chorus. She also has a Bachelor’s Degree of Music Education, with a concentration in piano from Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA. Before teaching in Florida, she spent four summers as the Arts Director for Summer Day Camps in Kennebunk, Maine and two years as the district music teacher in Anson, Maine. 

2018 Elementary Music Ensemble - Kristen Long & Jason Thomashefsky
Kristen Long is the music teacher at San Carlos Park Elementary School Center for the Arts. She has been the music teacher there for three years and was a first and second grade teacher before that. Last year Kristen was recognized as the Lee County Music Teacher of the Year. She is also the secretary of the South West Florida Orff Chapter. Kristen grew up in Lee County and was a camper at the Music Foundation’s Camp!

Jason Thomashefsky is currently in his 7th year of teaching band, choir, and general music at Rayma C. Page Elementary School.  He received his Bachelors of Arts in Jazz Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Education: Subject Matter K-12 from Rowan University in Glassboro, New Hersey in 2011.  He majored in saxophone in his tenure at Rowan and also received credits in studying classical guitar.  Mr. Thomashefsky earned his Masters of Science in Applied Psychology and Neuroscience from Nova Southeastern University and he is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Nova Southeastern University.

Flute Ensemble - Darbi Elliott Lamrani

Darbi earned the Master of Music degree from Baylor University and is also a graduate of the University of Florida, where she earned the Bachelor of Music degree.  Darbi enjoys teaching  music, including private flute lessons to students of all ages. She has taught privately in Florida, Texas and Paris, France.  In addition to teaching, Darbi is an enthusiastic performer.  She has played with various orchestras across the United States and the world.  She also performs for local weddings, funerals and special events as the solo flutist "One Flute Music."

Guitar: Beginning - Jonathan Lawrence

Jonathan Lawrence received his Bachelor's in Music Education from Stetson University. He is  registered Suzuki Violin Teacher and a certified Music Teacher in the state of Florida with 10 years of teaching experience. He also performs professionally as a violinist in the SW Florida area.

Musical Theatre - Erin Cantwell
Erin Cantwell received her Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from Western Kentucky University where she studied classical voice, theater and guitar. Over the years, Erin has taught Arts and Humanities and Drama at Bluegrass Middle School in Kentucky.
She taught seven years at Gateway Charter High School, teaching Advanced and Show Choir, String Techniques and Guitar. She is currently the music teacher and choir director at Heights Elementary School.

Percussion Ensemble - Jordan Pickard

Piano - Amy Maneval

Amy Maneval received a bachelors degree in music from Elmira College, having also attended Penn State University and Kendall College. Amy has operated a private piano studio for nearly 30 years and has been a church staff music as well. She is currently Director of Contemporary Music at Cypress Lake Presbyterian Church, is President of Calusa Musicale (Nation Federation of Music Clubs) and Vice-President of Southwest Florida Music Teachers National Association. 

Piano - Betsy Randoph

Betsy Randolph received her Bachelor's Degree from Stetson University and is certified in both the Florida State and National Music Teachers Associations. She is currently vice president of the Southwest Florida Music Teachers Association. She has operated a private piano studio in Fort Myers for over 30 years and has worked for several local churches as pianist and children's choir director. She is certified by Choristers Guild National to teach Young Voices in addition to teaching basic music education at
local preschools for Gulf Coast Symphony's Early Gateways to the Arts Program.

Strings: Beginning - Jonathan Lawrence

Jonathan Lawrence received his Bachelor's in Music Education from Stetson University. He is  registered Suzuki Violin Teacher and a certified Music Teacher in the state of Florida with 10 years of teaching experience. He also performs professionally as a violinist in the SW Florida area.

String Orchestra - Lisa/Bangash

Theatre Production  (One-Act) - Michael Lynch

Michael Lynch has been a theatre educator in Ft. Myers for 7 years at Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School. He has been involved in various aspects of theatre since he was a twelve year old student at Caloosa Middle School. He has d.irected various shows
ranging from the classical Medea and Le Farce de Pierre Patelin, to musicals such as Alice @ Wonderland and Phantom of the Soap Opera. He currently sponsors an active Junior Thespian Troupe which has scored Superior ratings at the state level since starting the troupe five years ago. He is excited to bring his love of theatre to this year's Summer Arts Camp and looks forward to the growth of his students.

TV Production and Film - Jason Blauet

Visual Arts: It's All About Balance and Abstract Expression - 2019 - Victoria Hahn

Victoria Hahn earned her BFA at Florida Southern College. Her degree is in Studio Art with a concentration in Oil Painting with a minor in Psychology and Art History. During her college career she studied Art in 13 countries and developed a love for travel. This is my 8th year teaching overall, and my 5th year teaching in this district at Fort Myers Middle Academy.  In 2017 Victory  was awarded the honor of being Lee County’s Visual Art Teacher of the Year. 

2018 Visual Arts: Sculpture and Digital Arts - Nikki Bizjak

Nicole Bizjak, M.S.T., currently teaches Art and E.L.A. at the Alva School. She has a Master's degree in Teaching with an Art concentration from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. She also has undergraduate degrees in Interior/Architectural Design and Art History. She previously pursued a career designing kitchens and baths. She was awarded 2nd Place in the nation in Elkay's Kitchens of the 21 st Century.

2018 Visual Arts: Offbeat Art Explorations  - Patricia Collins

Patricia Collins, born & raised in Massachusetts, earned a BFA in Communications Design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Life in NYC, energized by artists, street art and a DIY gallery scene, influenced her creative approach to materials and art making,
which she enjoys sharing in activities with young artists. Collins has done art workshops & presentations through the Lee County public schools and the Lee County library summer program, and taught Sets & Props, and Visual Arts classes at the Alliance of the
Arts Summer Camp. She recently completed murals for Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, North Ft. Myers, FL, and the Kappa Development Foundation, Ft Myers, FL, which both included participation by area students. Since moving to Ft. Myers her work
has been exhibited twice at the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL; Verge, Miami Beach 2010; Scope Miami 2011, the Florida Museum for Women Artists in Deland, FL and other venues. Solo shows include the Collier County Museum of the
Everglades, and Howl Gallery, Ft. Myers, FL. Her limited edition artist book, Urban Anxieties is in MaMA Queens Artists' Books collection. 

Visual Arts: Collage/Painting & Mixed Media - Kellen Beck Mills
Kellen Beck Mills received her Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree, Magna Cum Laude, from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. She is National Board Certified in Art Education and has an endorsement in Gifted Education. She exhibits her work in galleries and arts organizations in and out of town and recently won Best in Show in the Alliance for the Arts "All Florida Juried Show".

Visual Arts: Mixed Media, Sculpture and Illustration -  Cat Bryant is a native Southwest Florida artist that has been involved in local arts including Fine Arts Kids Summer Camp and mixed media workshops.  She earned her Bachelors Degree in Secondary Biology Education from Edison State College, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2010.  She has showcased her artwork in several artist collaboratives, including Daas Gallery, HOWL Gallery, Grand Illusion, and Arts for Act.  She currently teaches 8th Grade Science at The Alva School and incorporates creative thinking as a way of understanding and expression.  She is also a Jivamukti Certified Yoga teacher, inspired by the healing power and wellness that occurs when mind, body, and spirit unite.  Her favorite mediums are watercolor illustration and soft sculpture and her favorite hobby is hiking with her husband and 8 year old son out in the beautiful SWFLA environment.  She is honored to be a part of this year’s Art Camp and its amazing group of students!