Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts Recognizes Six Local High School Teachers for Remarkable Achievements in Performing Arts Education

Annual Wolf Trap Grants for High School Performing Arts Teachers continue the Foundation’s celebrated arts and education programs by supporting new arts initiatives

Vienna, Virginia (April 14, 2015) — Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts honors six exceptional high school performing arts teachers and their one-of-a-kind programs with grants as part of the organization’s annual Wolf Trap Grants for High School Performing Arts Teachers. Teachers from Fairfax, Arlington, and Loudoun counties in Virginia; Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland; and the District of Columbia received grants for innovative projects that enrich their school’s curriculums and connects with students through the creation of new works and initiatives, culminating in final student performances. For additional information on the program, please visit http://www.wolftrap.org/education/programs/grants-for-performing-arts-teachers

Arts District Supervisors in each county nominate an exceptional performing arts teacher who will represent their school district as a Wolf Trap Grant Recipient for the school year. The annual grants recognize the instruction and performance achievements of public high school music, dance and theatre teachers. Awardees receive a grant of $2,500 to support special projects that parallel Wolf Trap’s performance and education priorities, including artist residencies, commissions, master classes, and technology in the arts.

Awardees for the 2014-2015 school year are: Alex Robinson of Washington-Lee High School (Arlington County), Mike Horanski of James W. Robinson Secondary School (Fairfax County), My-Van Nguyen of Dominion High School (Loudoun County), Gregory Lewis of School Without Walls (Washington, D.C.), Michelle Searle of Seneca Valley High School (Montgomery County), and Valerie Dent of Surrattsville High School (Prince George’s County).

“Many congratulations and thanks are due to our 2015 grantees,” said Akua Kouyate-Tate, Senior Director of Education at Wolf Trap. “Wolf Trap has a longtime commitment to supporting arts education in schools throughout communities in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia metropolitan region. Since 1995, Wolf Trap has awarded these grants to give teachers the opportunity to support a project that not only aligns with Wolf Trap’s mission to promote arts education, but also builds life skills such as creative thinking, collaboration, and compassion.”

ARLINGTON COUNTY: Alex Robinson, Washington-Lee High School
International living jazz legend, Andrew White, served as the artist-in-residence for the Washington-Lee High School Jazz Department as part of the 2014-2015 music curriculum on the study of jazz giants. Mr. White worked with 40 students on the history and theory of jazz music through the study of blues progression, motif development, and jazz improvisation; all techniques used by the pioneers of the twentieth century. In March 2015, there was a free, public performance by the Washington-Lee High School Jazz Ensemble, conducted by Andrew White, to culminate the project.

FAIRFAX COUNTY:  Mike Horanski, James W. Robinson Secondary School
Students participating in the Robinson Singers and Robinson Select Women’s Ensemble will study and perform a Haitian folk-style choral composition with Haitian composer, Sydney Guillaume. Mr. Guillaume will conduct rehearsals via Skype and also travel to Robinson Secondary School to work directly with the students the week of their performance as a guest clinician. The final performance will be held on June 4, 2015.

LOUDOUN COUNTY: My-Van Nguyen, Dominion High School
To address the shortage of male singers enrolled in chorus, the Dominion High School Choral Program will bring in artist-in-residence Jim Van Slyke to serve as a vocal coach to all male singers. Mr. Van Slyke, an international performer and vocal teacher, is attracting male singers to the program by offering specialized techniques in areas such as breath control, tone, and tempo. This spring, the Dominion High School Music Department will host a one-day male choral festival with male choral students from Dominion High School, Seneca Ridge Middle School, and other surrounding-area schools. Scott Tucker, conductor of the Choral Arts Society of Washington, will serve as guest conductor.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Gregory Lewis, School Without Walls
In an effort to improve the quality of their choral ensemble, students in the School Without Walls Chorus class will participate in master classes led by professional accompanist and composer Thomasena Allen. Students will learn vocal techniques such as breathing, correct diction and phrasing, and standard choral literature from classical and contemporary periods in music history and musical theatre. A choral arrangement composed by Ms. Allen will be included in the 2014-2015 repertoire, which will be performed at the End of the Year Concert and Festival Disney at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, in June 2015.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY: Michelle Searle, Seneca Valley High School
Students in Seneca Valley High School’s Mixed Chamber Choir, Honors Treble Choir, Men’s Choir, and Combined Concert Choir will participate in master classes led by distinguished college choir directors. Students will rehearse in a “college-like” setting to learn the mastery of complex works and advanced level performing techniques. Artists-in-residence Arian Khefi from Towson University, Kenneth Elpus from University of Maryland, and Stephen Holmes from Notre Dame of Maryland University will provide customized instruction for each choir in repertoire selection and vocal technique. In May 2015, a final performance will showcase the students’ development throughout the year.

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY: Valerie Dent, Surrattsville High School
In preparation for several band festivals and county assessments held this spring, Surrattsville High School’s Orchestra and Symphonic Band will receive master classes from professional musicians. Artists-in-residence Dr. Mark Phillips, Dr. Adolf Wright, Charles Ellis, and Rebecca Henry will provide specific instruction on various skills and techniques. Following the master classes, students will travel to the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD, to participate in workshops which will focus on collegiate-level music instruction and professional music career opportunities. At the final concert on April 29, 2015, all students will perform their music collection paired with a slideshow presentation to showcase the project year and their progress.


Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, produces and presents a full range of performance and education programs in the Greater Washington area, as well as nationally. Wolf Trap features three performance venues: the outdoor Filene Center and Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, both located at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, and The Barns at Wolf Trap, located down the road from the national park and adjacent to the Center for Education at Wolf Trap. The 7,028-seat Filene Center is operated in partnership with the National Park Service and annually showcases an extensive array of diverse artists, ranging from pop, country, folk, and blues to classical music, dance, and theatre, as well as multimedia presentations, from May through September. The Barns at Wolf Trap is operated by the Wolf Trap Foundation year round, and during the summer months is home to the Grammy-nominated Wolf Trap Opera, one of America’s outstanding resident ensemble programs for young opera singers. Wolf Trap’s education programs include the nationally acclaimed Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, a diverse array of arts education classes, grants, and a nationally recognized internship program.


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Emily Smalling, Coordinator, Public Relations
703.255.4096 or emilys@wolftrap.org

Michelle Pendoley, Director, Public Relations
703.255.1917 or michellep@wolftrap.org