Cassie Pitman Gonzales has over 20 years experience teaching at St. Paul's School. She has a B.A. from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Tx. Cassie has two grown children ; one visual artist in Virginia, and one artist working for the anime movie company, Crunchyroll. She enjoys teaching children the techniques of a wide variety of artists, including illustrators of children's books.
Kendra Skipworth began studying classical ballet at the age of 5 and since then it has been an important part of her life. She started teaching in college and, while she never planned to become a ballet teacher, the love of working with the students and teaching them became the favorite part of her days. After graduating from the University of Houston, she worked as the registrar at Houston Ballet Academy but soon realized that she missed working with the students every day and is now teaching on a full-time basis. Kendra finds great joy in working with her students, and it is her passion to share her love for movement and dance with others.
Scott Wagner picked up his first guitar at the age of nine to play and sing in a talent show and never put it down. For 35 years he has continued to refine his craft through teaching and performing. Working with students across the spectrum of age, experience, talent, and musical tastes, Scott has taught virtually every style of guitar from basic strumming to finger strumming to rock lead to classical. Scott believes that music education begins with the joy of playing an instrument and strives to help his students find that joy through practice as well as playing.
James Roberts is Director of Music Ministries at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree and a Master of Music degree from Oklahoma City University and Southeastern Louisiana University, respectively. He has also received a Certification in Music Ministry from Perkins School of Theology. His conducting experience includes choruses at Cypress United Methodist Church, Bay Harbour United Methodist Church, St. Martin's Episcopal Church, The Northshore Chorale and University Chorus and the San Diego Master Chorale. He is also a gifted singer and has performed as a Chorister with Cantare Houston, the Houston Grand Opera, and the San Diego Opera.
Dr. Ellen Edwards is a certified Musikgarten instructor and has led classes for infants through younger elementary at St. Paul’s since 2007. Under her leadership, the Musikgarten program at St. Paul’s consistently achieves the Exemplary rating. Ellen also serves as the director of children’s ministry for St. Paul’s Church. Her lifelong enjoyment of music includes piano, flute and singing, and her whole family participates in a variety of musical endeavors. With a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, years of experience with children’s development and spiritual growth, and a lifelong passion for music, Musikgarten combines her interests and experience in a rewarding vocation.
Dr. Kingchi Au holds degrees in piano performance from the University of Houston Moores School of Music. She has established herself as a performer as well as an educator. Kingchi is an experienced music instructor. Her teaching background includes work at private institutes, community colleges and two universities. She has worked with students of all ages at different levels, and from diverse backgrounds. Kingchi is also active as a performer - both as recital soloist and collaborative pianist. Kingchi feels equally dedicated to the art of teaching and to the art of performance and she consistently strives to become better in both areas.
Sammy Cowan holds degrees from Baylor University and Rice University, and she currently serves as a part-time instructional specialist at Lamar High School. After retiring as a public school music teacher, she began teaching piano while caring for her grandchildren. She welcomes students of all ages and lessons include theory and music appreciation. Older beginners are especially encouraged to pursue their dream of playing piano in a supportive and nurturing environment.
Dr. Lali Elbakidze comes with 25 years of experience on the concert stage and has been teaching now for well over a decade. Her performances in competitions, with various orchestras, in recitals and in collaboration with other artists have brought her many prizes and both national and international acclaim. Among her students there are young children and adults of beginner level as well as advanced pianists. Some of the highlights of her pedagogical career include winners of international piano competitions in Italy and the U.S. Her teaching methods include differing approaches to each individual student, different styles of musical repertoire and are based on the principles of the Russian piano school.
Elissa Edwards, soprano, recently acquired a Master of Arts in performance at the University of York, England. She also holds an honors degree in music from Boston University and is an alumnus of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and the Houston Grand Opera High School Voice Studio. She has extensive training in a variety of repertoires including opera, early music and musical theatre. She served on the music staff at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, Houston where she taught weekly voice lessons and classes, and directed youth choirs. As a teacher she is devoted to establishing natural and healthy vocal technique in singers of all ages and stages.
Helen Spaw, coordinator of the Fine Arts Academy, discovered her enthusiasm for creating art when she was 2 years old. She now has wide experience as a therapist, teacher, and art teacher for all ages and abilities. She holds a Masters in Art Therapy and Creativity from New York’s Pratt Institute, and her Bachelors in Psychology with an Art minor and focus in Art Therapy from the College of Santa Fe. She enjoys facilitating young artists’ growing creativity and helping students discover their own enthusiasm for art.