MMEA Officer Candidates

2024-2026 Administrative Term

Select an office, or scroll down, to view the candidate biographies.


Chelsea Silvermintz

Denis Swope


“Serving the membership in their goals of teaching and learning” for over 84 years of conferences, mentorship, and other professional development experiences, MMEA has provided essential advocacy on behalf of music educators and their students to politicians, parents, administrators, and communities across Missouri. While MMEA appears to be a single entity, its efforts are derived from the work of local affiliates, a robust state board, invested business and community members, and connections with state affiliate organizations all working together to support the more than 3,000 music educators who reach and teach students every single day.  I have appreciated the myriad professional development opportunities provided to me as a member, and enjoyed giving back in my own way as an officer on the boards of both MMEA and my local district, St. Louis Suburban Music Educators Association (District #5). If elected as this association’s president, I would seek to continue the thoughtful professional development and advocacy provided by MMEA, and further expand our efforts to reach as many music educators and their students as possible.

A National Education Association report from October of 2022 states that job openings in our field outpaced hires as early as 2017, with a widening gap since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students across our state are missing enriching music education experiences because there just aren’t enough music educators available to teach them. This is due both to the lower number of collegiate students pursuing degrees in music education and the simple fact that teachers are leaving the field to follow other career or personal life paths.

We are fortunate to have an exemplary MMEA mentorship program helping to support new music educators throughout Missouri. Each year, more new educators choose to take part in this program and come away from it feeling connected, valued, and supported. I would like to help expand this program to reach more new teachers, future teachers, and aspiring music educators who are still in high school, ensuring more connections and thus a higher rate of support and success.

Missouri has an increasingly diverse population of educators, students, schools, and communities. With just one conference each year, it is challenging for MMEA to engage with all the professional development needs of music educators while supporting the performance and educational opportunities for our students. This year, MMEA took an intentional and bold step forward with the addition of The Collective, an ensemble I had the opportunity to watch perform at our conference. Inspiringly, students from our traditional All-State ensembles cheered enthusiastically for their peers, giving life to the idea that, at its core, music education can be about communication, engagement, and fun!

The affiliate organizations who work closely with MMEA are crucial in supporting the diverse needs of educators and their students. Their respective conferences offer a wealth of professional development that dives deep into the work that teachers in their areas do each and every day. I encourage you to attend these conferences if you have not done so previously. In addition to excellent clinics and performances, there is a great sense of community and camaraderie built among attendees. Evenso, it is likely there are groups or individuals within our association who feel underrepresented or under-supported, and if I am given the chance to serve, I will do my best to help all members gain representation and a sense of community.

Everyone should have the opportunity to learn, share, and feel connected through music!



Chelsea Silvermintz, a band director in the Lindbergh School District, teaches high school students in Freshman Band, Concert Band, Woodwind Choir, the Spirit of St. Louis Marching Band, and the musical pit orchestra. Under her direction, the Freshman Band has earned exemplary ratings for 15 consecutive years. Additionally, Chelsea teaches beginning clarinet while working closely with all woodwind students at Lindbergh’s two middle schools.

Chelsea served as MMEA Band Vice-President from 2020-2022. She also served the St. Louis Suburban Music Educators Association District #5 as High School Concert Band Vice-President, President, and currently serves as Past-President. She holds membership in the National Association for Music Education, Missouri Music Educators Association, Missouri Bandmasters Association, Phi Beta Mu, Sigma Alpha Iota, and Missouri Women Band Directors Association.

Chelsea received a Bachelor of Music from The University of Texas at Austin in 2007 and began her teaching career in Hondo, Texas. Following her relocation to St. Louis, and concurrent to her work at Lindbergh, Chelsea earned a Master of Music and the Kurt Engbretson Music Education Award from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2014. A five-year member of the Texas Longhorn Band, Chelsea studied trumpet with Ray Sasaki, marched with the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps in 2004, participated in the 2005 National Trumpet Competition, and served on the brass staff of the Racine Scouts in 2008. From 2009 to 2016, Chelsea performed with the St. Louis Brass Band.

Chelsea is a lifelong learner and deeply appreciative of the wealth of knowledge shared by her friends and colleagues, both here in Missouri and across the country. She lives in Chesterfield with her two boys and husband Ben, who is the choir director at Parkway Central High School.

If selected as MMEA President, Chelsea looks forward to serving Missouri’s music students and educators.


MMEA has always been an organization that has influenced who I am as a teacher. Through three decades of attendance at the conference I have seen many amazing performances (also participated in a few of those) and attended countless thought-provoking clinics, which have influenced what I do in my classroom daily. I have seen the tides of change as we progress with what we have known as music education and what it means to us today. MMEA has been, for most of us, the bond that holds us together. The organization has provided and continues to provide opportunities for all levels and disciplines in music education. And we, as a group, continue to explore different avenues of music education that provides access to more students.

My vision for the future of MMEA is to continue the work that has been done as an advocate for all types of music education, and work to include informational resources for those that are struggling with accessibility and inclusion.

Many times, we see only what we are doing in our various disciplines and lose sight of the many opportunities that could be available to our students. Are there ways that we might appeal to students with more than a traditional music ensemble? Or be able to include students outside of our normal scope of band, choir, and orchestra. I would like to see MMEA focus on providing clinics to help those of us that need ideas and examples of what non traditional music classes look like and how they can function in our schools.

I know that accessibility and inclusion are buzz words in the education world right now. My idea of what those two words mean has changed over the years. We need to work to make sure that all students have access to quality music education, and make sure that the vision of our programs includes all types of students seeing themselves in our programs.

MMEA is currently facing challenges with how it is able to present its annual Inservice and Clinic. I know that the executive board is working through the best possible ways to include everyone and present quality clinics as it always has. If elected, I will strive to do the same because this organization can help all of us become better educators. It would be an honor for me to serve as President-Elect of MMEA, I am always willing to listen to solutions to problems and would do my best to make everyone feel heard and seen.



Denis Swope currently serves as the Director of Bands at Hickman High School. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Denis taught in Marceline, MO for two years before pursuing his master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting. Following graduation, he accepted a position as Associate Director of Bands with Moberly Public Schools, where he served for six years before accepting the position of Associate Director of Bands at Hickman High School. He served in this capacity for twelve years and is now in his twelfth year as Director of Bands at Hickman. His duties have included sharing four concert bands, marching band, jazz ensemble, and leading the pit orchestra for two musicals each year. During his tenure at Hickman, he has also taught Jazz, Pop and Rock, Intro to Music, and two levels of Music Theory. He has also assisted with beginning instrument classes in the District.

Denis is a member of and has served on the board of the Missouri Bandmasters Association.

During his time on the Board for MBA, he has served as Membership Chair, Vice President, President Elect/All State Coordinator, and President, Past President, and Board Member. He is also a member of MMEA, NAfME, MOAJE and Phi Beta Mu. He has also served as the Northeast Missouri Music Educators Association President, and as Vice President for Jazz. In 2020 he received recognition from Inside Columbia’s Magazine as the Gold Winner in the teacher category of their annual Best of Columbia program. In the summer of 2020, he accepted the position of Music Director for the Columbia Community Band.

Denis is married to Julie Swope and has four children: Mackenzie (Son in Law Collin Lamoureux), Brett, Evan, and Mia.

band vice-president

Dr. Justin Doss

Lazell Williams



choral vice-president

Karey Fitzpatrick

Stephanie Ruggles

Karey Fitzpatrick has been teaching high school vocal music since 2003. She began as the Choir Director at Francis Howell High School in 2004 and has consistently taught 5 performing choirs including Women’s Chamber Choir, Mixed Chamber Choir, Concert Choir, Treble Choir and Chorus. In recent years, she has also taught AP Music Theory, Music Appreciation through Guitar and co-taught Concert Band. She earned a BS in Music Education from Missouri State University in 2002 and a MM in Secondary Vocal Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2010. Under her direction, the choirs have earned consistent 1 ratings at State Music Festival and have performed as featured ensembles at MMEA in 2015 and Carnegie Hall in 2016. She was the recipient of the esteemed Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award in 2017 and was nominated St. Louis Metro 8 District’s Outstanding Director in 2008 by her colleagues. She served as the Metro 8 District Representative for MCDA from 2016-2020 and as the R & S Multi-Cultural Chair from 2004-2007. Additionally, she has sung as a chorus member with St. Louis’ premier a cappella group, St. Louis Chamber Chorus, from 2003-2008. Mrs. Fitzpatrick is an active member of the following professional organizations: MMEA, MCDA, ACDA, NAfME and NEA. She has 4 beautiful, amazing, exhausting children and a wonderful husband who is also a teacher. She is excited to give back to an organization who has shaped her to be the teacher she

is today: one who is always striving to structure a lesson to be more engaging, collaborate with colleagues and parents to provide a memorable experience for students and bring her best every single day 

Stephanie Ruggles teaches choir and general music at Ritenour Middle School in St. Louis. During her 18 years at RMS, she has expanded the choral program from
8th grade choir to serving all grade levels. Her students participate regularly in the SLSMEA and Des Lee Honor Choirs and the Middle Grades Choral Festival. During the summer, she is the Program Director for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’s Opera Camp For Kids!, where she previously taught.

Within the RSD music department, Stephanie has led, coordinated, and facilitated curriculum revisions and numerous professional development opportunities. She served as her building’s Professional Development Chair for seven years. Currently, she is an active member of the Ritenour Equity Leadership and Learning Cohort. In 2017, she was named Ritenour Middle School’s Diamond Circle Teacher of the Year.

Stephanie obtained her Bachelor of Music Education, with a K-12 Choral/Vocal Certificate, from the University of Missouri–Saint Louis and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Washington University. She is a member of NAfME, ACDA, MMEA, MCDA, NEA, and Educators for Social Justice. From 2016-2020, she served as SLSMEA Co-Vice President for Middle School Choir.

She lives in Overland with her husband Nathan, a voice teacher and classical singer. A freelance contralto, she performs as a soloist and chorister, most frequently with the American Kantorei, the Collegium Vocale of St. Louis, and the St. Louis Chamber Chorus. She is also the Assistant Director and Alto Section Leader of the chancel choir at First Congregational Church in St. Louis.

Stephanie believes that every student should have access to a quality music education and that each individual student voice is important. If elected to serve MMEA as Choral Vice-President, she will bring a mindset for equity, innovation, and lifelong learning practices for all teachers and students.

early childhood/elementary vice-president

Deborah Bryson

Michael Stine

Deborah Bryson currently teaches K-5 music at Rising
Hill Elementary in the North Kansas City School District where she specializes in general music and adaptive music for special needs. She also has experience teaching all grade levels, and has taught in rural, suburban, and urban settings. At Rising Hill Deborah also provides extracurricular percussion ensemble, ukulele club, and choir.
As Subject Area Lead Teacher, Deborah oversees 25 elementary music teachers in the NKCSD, providing mentoring and professional development opportunities, such as courses on popular music methods and on teaching musical genres through a lens of equity and inclusion. This February, Deborah presented at the National NAfME conference on using popular music to teach curricular musical skills. She was also selected to present workshops at the Maine State MMEA conference and the Association for Popular Music Education international conference.
Deborah earned both her Bachelor’s in Music Education and Master’s in Music Education: Choral Conducting Emphasis, at the University of Central Missouri. She has also hosted and been certified in World Music Drumming: Level 1, and World Music Drumming: Drumming Up the Fun. She has been the recipient of multiple grants for World Music Drumming, xylophones, and STEAM music education.
In 2019 Deborah was the recipient of the North Kansas City Culture of Excellence in Teaching Award, and was further selected to receive the Honor Cadre Award.
Beyond teaching elementary general music, Deborah’s passion lies in serving other music teachers, helping them to find their spark and joy in this wonderful profession. She is committed to advocating for teacher resources
and opportunities for professional growth, as all Missouri elementary students deserve a deep, meaningful, joyful music education, and all Missouri elementary music teachers deserve the resources and opportunities to make that happen.

Michael Stine teaches at Ozark West Elementary, just minutes from the dairy farm on which he was raised. At Ozark, he teaches kindergarten through fifth grade. He has obtained grants which piloted a district-wide ukulele program. Michael is a huge proponent of music literacy, folk music, and movement. He also maintains one of the most successful high school trombone studios in the region.

Michael holds degrees from Missouri State University
and the University of Arkansas in music performance. After obtaining teacher certification through Missouri State, he has taken classes in gifted education from Drury University. He previously taught in the Willard and Marion C. Early School Districts.

Prior to teaching, Michael spent five years as a trombonist with Bobby Vinton. He has held positions with the
North Arkansas Symphony, the Ft. Smith Symphony, the Missouri Philharmonic, and the Springfield Symphony as well as countless touring musicals, celebrity acts, and even a stint with Royal Caribbean Cruises. He has served in adjunct low brass and music education capacities

at Missouri State University, Drury University, and the University of Arkansas. He has appeared as a clinician/ adjudicator in Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri. Michael is a former elementary music vice-president for the South- Central MMEA. Michael currently lives on some of the last remaining farmland between the towns of Ozark, Nixa, and Springfield 

general music vice-president

Traci Bolton

Dr. Michael Dove

Traci Bolton has been a music educator in Missouri since 1997, holding Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education.

Traci has been working for over a decade to bring guitar experiences and quality education to the St. Louis County region. These include a 4-year guitar program featuring multiple levels of class instruction, guitar ensemble as well as multiple rock bands, which present a full rock show with lights and sound. Featuring original student composition and arrangements is a passion for Traci.

On a national level, Traci has served on the National Association for Music Education Council for Guitar Education and the American String Teachers Association Guitar Task Force. Summers are spent traveling the country with Teaching Guitar Workshops working with teachers who wish to bring guitar into their schools. Traci also serves as a clinician at the district and state level helping teachers deliver quality guitar education.

Michael Dove is finishing his 31st year of teaching. For
the last 9 years he has been teaching 4th, 5th and 6th grade general music in the Marshfield R-1 Schools. Prior to that, he was Director of Bands and Professor of Music Education at Baptist Bible College in Springfield. He is currently serving as the vice-president – elementary music for South-Central MMEA, the treasurer for Kodaly of the Ozarks, and the secretary for the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education.

Dr. Dove earned a BS ed. at Missouri State University, a M.M.E. at the UMKC – Conservatory of Music, and a Ph.D. at The University of Kansas. He has completed certification in Kodaly Levels 1-3, and in Orff Level 1.

He has been married to his wife Michelle for 30 years. He has two sons: David, who is a professional musician; and John, who is in college studying for a degree in Elementary Education.

jazz vice-president

Aaron Lehde

Harvey Lockhart

Aaron Lehde is Director of Bands and District Music Facilitator for the Ladue School District, where he has taught since 2002. His duties include conducting the Symphonic, Concert, and Jazz Bands at Ladue Horton Watkins High School along with the Seventh and Eighth Grade Concert and Jazz Bands at Ladue Middle School.

The Ladue Symphonic Band has performed at the MMEA conference in 2019, 2013, 2007, and 2003.

Lehde earned his B.M. Music Education and Jazz Performance, (2000) and M.M. Jazz Performance, (2010) from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

He has served the St. Louis Suburban Music Educators Association as President (2016-2018), High School Jazz VP (2010-2014) and Middle School Jazz VP (2004-2008). He currently serves as High School Band VP (2020-present). Lehde has directed ILMEA District 6 Jazz Bands in 2011, 2013, and 2015, and has been a Teaching Artist for Jazz St. Louis’ Jazz U program since 2008.

His performances on saxophones and other woodwinds with numerous artists include the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the MUNY Orchestra, Frankie Valli, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Manhattan Transfer, Maynard Ferguson, Byron Stripling, Wayne Newton, Bernadette Peters, Johnny Mathis, Idina Menzel, Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Jay Leno, Marty Allen, Bob Newhart, and “Weird Al”Yankovic. His touring and performance experience has brought him to 47 states and 27 countries worldwide.

Lehde is a member of NAfME, MMEA, MBA, Phi Beta Mu, and the AF of M, Local 2-197 

Saxophonist, educator and composer Harvey E.A. Lockhart is the Founder, Executive and Artistic Director for “HEAL Center for the Arts,” Director and Founder of the Sheldon Concert Hall’s “North County Big Band,” and Director of Music Programs at “Cardinal Ritter College Preparatory School.” He was the 2017 Art Educator of the Year (Arts and Education Council, St. Louis, MO.). He is also a 2019 Artist Fellow (Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis, MO). Lockhart Performs regularly with his quintet “the Collective”.

He has been passionate about teaching, performance and mentoring since 2000 in the public and private sectors. He rebuilt the music program in North St. Louis by revitalizing the band program from 10 to 60 students, re-establishing concert, marching and jazz bands. He also built an inventory of over 80 new and used instruments.

Harvey has a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Florida A&M University, and a Masters of Music degree in music performance with emphasis in Jazz Studies from Northern Illinois University. He is also a research author for the Second Edition of “Teaching Music Through Performance in Jazz” by Ronald Carter via GIA Publications.

As the Director of Music Programs at Cardinal Ritter College Preparatory School, Lockhart is establishing an aggressive instrumental music program. Lockhart aspires to mentor his students to be the next great leaders and innovators of tomorrow.

orchestra vice-president

Twinda Murry

James McKay

Twinda Murry, a native St. Louisan, began playing violin
at the age of eight. She completed a bachelor of music in performance and education at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and has done graduate work at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and at the University of Missouri St. Louis. Her teachers included Dr. R. Kent Perry and Mr. John Kendall. Murry performs as a solo, chamber, and orchestral musician. She has performed with a wide variety of musical organizations including the 1999 Papal Visit Orchestra, St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra, Bach Society Orchestra, Masterworks Chorale Orchestra, Missouri Ballet Orchestra, St. Louis Luciano Pavoratti Orchestra, and The Moody Blues Festival Orchestra. She has served as principal 2nd violinist of the University City Symphony Orchestra and performed with the First Baptist Church of Ferguson Worship Orchestra, and the Gateway Festival Orchestra. She also performs with the Landolphi Quartet, Brioso Quartet and Quartet Accord. In addition, she manages as well as performs with the Murry String Ensemble.

Murry taught elementary strings and high school orchestra in the Hazelwood School district located in St. Louis County for eleven years before joining the Rockwood School District string faculty in 1999. She is currently the Director of Orchestras for the Ladue School District. Murry’s honors include the St. Louis Suburban Music Educators Merit Award (1989), the Emerson Electric Teaching Excellence Award (1997), Missouri Music ducators’ Association Conference Presenter (1998) and the Hazelwood School District 1997 Teacher of the Year, and Missouri American String Teachers Association School Educator of the Year (2004). Twinda lives in University City with her husband and three sons 

If you ask James for his mantra, he will respond, “Music is the door.”The University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music graduate, can attest to the transformative impact music maintains in his life. He is the youngest of two children born to a modest working-class family in Normandy, Missouri. James is a 2017 Teacher of the Year Honoree for Jennings School District where he is the Director of Orchestras. James credits his success to God and a series of music teachers who made investments in his life as far back as the fourth grade.

Consequently, James has dedicated his life to creating doors of opportunities for youth through the founding of Gateway Music Outreach and his occupation as a certified K-12 Instrumental Music Educator for over two decades
in various school districts in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Also, James has served as Director of Cameron Youth Chamber Orchestra, St. Louis, Missouri; string camp facilitator New City School, St. Louis, Missouri; and double bass teacher, Webster Community Music School, Webster Groves, Missouri. He is a classical and gospel music composer and arranger, as well.

James is a champion for collaboration. Accordingly, he is
a member of the following organizations, St. Louis Youth Symphony Task Force, Jazz St. Louis Advisory Board, M.O.A.S.T.A. and the Missouri Music Educators Association.

Finally, as an African American, orchestral educator
and musician, James is committed to exposing diverse audiences to classical music. He continues to provide budding young musicians in underserved communities with access to affordable quality music instruction, and opportunities to attend performances and receive master classes with prominent artists.

college/university vice-president

Dr. Jocelyn Prendergast

Vicky Scott

Jocelyn Stevens Prendergast is Associate Professor of Music Education at Truman State University where she teaches music education courses, as well as Conducting, Research in Music, Music Psychology, and Perspectives in Music: Hip-Hop. She also supervises intern teachers, oversees the Music Masters of Arts in Education program, serves as the faculty advisor for the Truman State collegiate chapter of the National Association for Music Education, and founded and performs with the Truman Music Department Faculty Pop/Rock Band. She received a BM in Music Education from Butler University, an MM in Wind Conducting and an MA in Music Education from the University of Minnesota, and a DMA in Music Education from the University of Georgia.

Dr. Prendergast’s teaching experiences have been rich and varied, having taught in Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa, Georgia, and now Missouri. She has worked with students aged preschool through adult and has taught band, jazz band and combos, strings, choir, general music, and private trumpet and horn lessons. She has directed musicals with students in middle and high school and is active in musical theatre in the Kirksville area as both a performer and director. She also enjoys teaching on the soccer field, coaching preschool through high school players at many competitive levels for the Northern Missouri Futbol Club.

She brings a diverse perspective, gained from her upbringing as an Air Force brat and her varied teaching experiences, to her work serving the music education community in Missouri and beyond in a variety of ways. She serves on the MMEA Advisory Council as the Advancing Music Education Chair as well as on the editorial board of the Missouri Journal of Research in Music Education. She also serves on the NAfME Innovations Council and co-facilitates the Critical Examination of the Curriculum ASPA for the Society for Music Teacher Educators.

Vicky Scott is a Music Education methods instructor at Missouri State University, teaching Adaptive Music for Special Learners, Music in Early Childhood and the Elementary Grades, and Principles and General Methods of Music Education. Her professional duties also include supervising student teachers, advising music education students, and serving as faculty advisor to NAfME-C and Student MCDA. She is program director of The Kodaly Institute of the Ozarks at Missouri State University, which offers intensive training in the Kodaly Methodology for PK-12 music teachers.

Prior to her full-time position at Missouri State, Mrs.
Scott had a thirty-year career teaching elementary vocal music in the Springfield Public Schools, Springfield,
MO. She served on curriculum development and
review committees multiple times, developing Major Instructional Goals, learning activities, and assessments for elementary music instruction in the Springfield Public Schools. She also served as professional learning clinician for the Springfield Schools elementary vocal music faculty.

Mrs. Scott earned her Bachelors in Elementary Education and Music in 1986 and Masters in Secondary Music Education in 1989. In 2009, she earned her Kodaly Certification, a culmination of successful completion of three levels of Kodaly Methodology training. She has served as guest clinician for elementary honor choirs in the Springfield area. Mrs. Scott has provided professional learning presentations for MCDA, SCMMEA, Kodaly of the Ozarks, university student organizations, and school music faculty.

Mrs. Scott served two terms as Elementary Vice President of the South-Central Missouri Music Educators Association, and multiple terms on the Executive Board of the Springfield National Education Association. Mrs. Scott currently serves as President of Kodaly of the Ozarks and as Repertoire and Resource Chair for University Student Activities with the Missouri Choral Directors Association.