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2023 MIDDLE SCHOOL FACULTY

 

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JONATHAN "ZEBRA CAKES" WEST
CAMP DIRECTOR

 

Jonathan West is a Colorado-based music educator. While growing up in Colorado Springs, Jonathan began playing the cello with the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association, and the horn in his public school band program. While at Pine Creek High School, Jonathan participated in Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, pit orchestra, chamber music ensembles, and was Drum Major for the Pine Creek Eagle Marching Band during his senior year. 

 

While studying for a Bachelor of Music Education degree at The University of Northern Colorado, Jonathan studied cello with Gal Faganel. As a member of the University Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Russel Guyver, the ensemble collaborated with internationally renown soloists such as Rachel Barton Pine, Peter Stumpf, and Robert deMaine. Jonathan also regularly performed in chamber recitals and joined the Campus String Orchestra on viola. 

 

At the outset of his teaching career, Jonathan served as a teaching assistant during the inaugural years of the UNC String Project, a weekly after-school program for beginning string students in the fourth and fifth grades. This program helped solidify Jonathan’s love for teaching. He ran a small private lesson studio with cellists and violists. As a young conductor, Jonathan was one of five students selected for the Colorado Music Educator Association's 2019 Conducting Clinic and participated in a master class with Larry Livingston. Jonathan has also served as a guest teacher and conductor for the Parker Performing Arts School Orchestra Program and for the Youth Orchestra with Avanti Music Academy. 

 

Jonathan is currently teaching 5th through 8th grade orchestra at Creighton Middle School in the Jeffco School District, along with beginning string classes in five Lakewood area elementary schools.

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LEANNE GRIFFEY
ORCHESTRA DIRECTOR

 

Leanne Griffey is the Orchestra Director at Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado. This is her 13th year at Kinard and her 26th year as a Music Educator. Before coming to Kinard, Leanne taught Orchestra and Choir for six years in various public schools in Greeley, Fort Collins, and Williamsburg, Virginia. She has also taught private violin, viola, and voice lessons throughout her career. Leanne received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder and has completed graduate coursework in Conducting and Performance. She currently serves as Secretary on the Board for the Colorado Chapter of American String Teachers' Association.

 

When Leanne is not teaching, she is often performing on violin, viola, or voice. She has performed with many Orchestras including the Fort Collins Symphony, Cheyenne Symphony, Richmond (VA) Symphony, and the Williamsburg (VA) Symphonia. Currently, she is Concertmaster for the Greeley Chamber Orchestra and the Health & Wellness Orchestra of Fort Collins, and is a member of the string quartets, Bellacordia and Quartet Con Brio.

 

Leanne is married to Kevin and together they have a daughter who a bassist and almost a high school graduate. It’s not unusual to find Leanne out running and later baking. The Griffey family also loves to ski! They find adventure in many places far across the oceans, but one of their favorite places is Breckenridge for its beauty, snow, and because their crazy calico cat, Penelope, can tag along there. Leanne and her family are also avid concert-goers and enjoy listening to a wide variety of musical styles.

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SANDY SUNDSTROM
VIOLIN INSTRUCTOR

 

Sandy grew up in Colorado Springs in a family of musicians. She was involved in orchestras, choirs, and bands throughout her youth, and earned her Bachelor's of Music Education (Instrumental Major and Choral Minor) from Arizona State University. Sandy has taught band, choir, and orchestra in all levels of education, elementary through college.

In 2010, she and her family moved to Grand Junction. Sandy is a violinist with the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, High Desert Opera, and Rockestra. She has an active private studio teaching violin, viola, and cello. Her quartet performs in churches and for area events; she plays in regional gigs, performs regularly in Aspen for summer weddings, and is a recurring violin coach for Camp Con Brio. Sandy adjudicates for the District 51 Solo and Ensemble Festival, several local auditions, and has judged the Colorado West Invitational Music Festival. She was previously an active member of the GJSO Board for many years and served on their music director search committee.

In 2013, she started as a paraprofessional in Mesa County School District. Sandy assists orchestras at several middle schools, and in 2014, she was a long-term sub for choirs at a local high school.

Sandy and her husband have two daughters, a son, and three grandchildren. They absolutely love living in Grand Junction: the people, surrounding views, and connections they’ve made.

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KARA LEONARDI
VIOLIN INSTRUCTOR

 

Kara Leonardi is the Orchestra Director at Bookcliff Middle School and Central High School in Grand Junction, Colorado. She and has been a public school music teacher in Western Colorado since 2014. Kara is an active musician with the Grand Junction Symphony, Rockestra, local string quartets, and other community groups in the Grand Junction area.

  

Kara holds a BA in Music Education, and a Certificate in Violin and Viola Pedagogy from Colorado State University. Her teachers include Amber Campbell, Cameron Law, and Margaret Miller. When not teaching or making music, Kara enjoys baking, reading, and enjoying the beautiful Colorado outdoors.

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XARENY POLANCO
VIOLA INSTRUCTOR
 

Xareny Polanco, a professional violist, is the Orchestra Director at Timberline PK-8 in Longmont. At Timberline, she was also recently hired as the Choir Director in addition to Orchestra, and she co-teaches their Mariachi program.

Xareny performs with the Longmont Symphony Orchestra and as a freelance musician. She also maintains a studio of private violin and viola students. Xareny earned a Bachelors in Music Education with an Instrumental Focus from Colorado State University in 2021. Aside from teaching and music, Xareny enjoys art, nature, and cooking!

This is Xareny's second year on staff at Camp Con Brio.

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JOSHUA GREINER
CELLO INSTRUCTOR

Joshua Greiner is from Fort Collins, Colorado where he learned a love for the outdoors through mountain biking, hiking, camping, skiing, and disc golf. Joshua Started learning the Cello in seventh grade and has been in love with all things Orchestra ever since. 

 

Joshua received his Undergraduate degree from Colorado State University in Music Education, Cello Performance, and Cello Pedagogy in December 2019. He has experience teaching students across Northern Colorado from beginners to advanced, state recognized ensembles. In addition to teaching, Joshua has performed with the CSU Symphony and CSU Sinfonia during his time at CSU and has since performed with his quartet throughout Northern Colorado as well as with the Greeley Chamber Orchestra. 

 

This year is Joshua’s third year teaching Orchestra at Preston Middle School. His goal is to provide as many opportunities for students to grow as individual players, as leaders, and together as an Orchestra. In addition to directing Preston Middle School's Orchestras, Joshua has served as an Assistant Director of Colorado State University's Middle School Outreach Ensemble and has been a director of the Northern Colorado Youth Orchestra since its founding in 2020. 

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LINDA TASHMA
STRING BASS INSTRUCTOR

 

Linda has been educating and playing music for over 50 years....  and ALWAYS studying. Her father described her as the “perennial student.” Music and History comprised Linda's studies during her college days and have held her heart ever since.  Music intermingles every aspect of life!

 

Having lived for many decades, Linda has been involved in a lot of activities. Notable gigs include: mentoring string bass students, playing in pit orchestras and Littleton Symphony, stitching weighted blankets for the Autism Community Store, seeing her students in honor orchestras and summer music camps, wonderful husband, nifty daughter, countless hours of joy playing bass and piano (inspired by her mom).  

 

In addition to music and teaching… Linda's overall well-being requires that she bake cookies frequently, ride her bicycle often, walk, read, garden, play cards and board games, attend worship, and watch professional football!  

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​ALISON MAYES
CAMP ADMINISTRATOR

 

Alison Mayes discovered her passion for string teaching through a high school internship program that she co-founded with her orchestra director and mentor, Amber Campbell, in Grand Junction, Colorado. She taught in Colorado schools for 15 years, having held positions in Boulder Valley, Cherry Creek, and Douglas County. Alison currently teaches 5th through 12th grade strings in Blue Valley School District, located in Overland Park, Kansas.

 

Alison has been on the staff of Camp Con Brio, String Camp of the Rockies, since 2001; and became Camp Director in 2015. She has also been part of the teaching faculty at summer programs in New Mexico (Hummingbird Music Camp) and Michigan (Interlochen Arts Camp). Alison served as Chair for the Colorado High School All State Orchestra, String Ensemble Director for the Longmont Youth Symphony, and Co-Music Director of the Northern Colorado Youth Symphony. She earned the degree Master of Music Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Alison is Past-President of Colorado ASTA, and serves as Webmaster and Newsletter Editor for Kansas ASTA.

 

Alison is known for growing and nurturing string programs, having as much as tripled the enrollment during her tenure. She prides herself on building positive relationships with students and fostering a classroom culture of mutual respect and inclusivity. Under her baton in 2015, the Grandview High School Orchestra auditioned and was invited to perform at the American String Teachers Association’s National Orchestra Festival. Alison received the 2015 Outstanding String Teacher of the Year award from Colorado ASTA, and was named the 2020 recipient of the Elizabeth A.H. Green School Educator Award from National ASTA.

As a performer, Alison’s most memorable opportunities include being a member of the Ghost Orchestra in 2016 (alongside violinist Tom Hagerman of Devotchka) at Red Rocks Amphitheater for the Grammy-nominated South African-American singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov. Additionally, she performed in New York City under the direction of Marin Alsop at Times Square, during the 2017 Carnegie Hall Music Educators Summer Workshop.

Alison is a frequent guest clinician, adjudicator, and conductor for honor ensembles and performance festivals. Aside from school teaching and performing, Alison enjoys teaching private lessons, cooking, crafting, going to concerts, traveling and watching horror movies with her husband Jason, and playing with their beloved dogs.

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