WMEA Candidates for Office 2022-24:
IN-Ovations Vice President
Position Statement: I am excited to serve as IN-Ovations Vice President. I have experience teaching Guitar, Jazz and Vocal Music, and feel I can bring a fresh perspective to the Innovations track. I look forward to collaborating with the Board to help our state continue to provide Music Education offerings for all students.
Bio: Heather Blackwell is a graduate of Hastings College, where she received a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance and a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Education in 1998. She continued her studies at the University of Wyoming, completing her Master’s in Music Education in 2006. A National Board Certified Teacher, Mrs. Blackwell has taught choirs in Evanston, Wyoming for the last 24 years. She taught choir at Evanston Middle School for 18 years before joining the faculty at Evanston High School. She currently teaches High School Choir, Vocal Jazz and Acoustic Guitar, and directs the All-School Musical. Her students are consistently selected for All-State Choir, All-State Vocal Jazz Choir and All-Northwest Choirs. Her choirs have also toured, performing in Utah and California. During her time in Evanston, she has also conducted the Messiah with the Evanston Civic Choir and has directed numerous musicals and plays with Sagebrush Theatre. She is a member of the National Association for Music Educators, the Wyoming Jazz Educators Association and the American Choral Directors Association. Mrs. Blackwell enjoys golf, skiing, musical theatre, and spending time with her husband and two children.
Position Statement: IN-Ovations is a home for ideas in all areas of music education. Every student deserves the opportunity to participate in quality music education; and I am passionate to help make that happen. As an IN-Ovations VP, my focus will be in modern band, music media and meeting any other needs that arise for educators in all areas of music education.
Bio: Jennifer Kessler received her Bachelor of Music from Metropolitan State University of Denver and started teaching in the Fall of 2006. She later earned a Master of Music with full Kodály certification from Colorado State University. She has taught K-12 music in Colorado and Wyoming, teaching band, orchestra, choir, general music and modern band. Currently, Jennifer is teaching elementary music in Riverton, where she is also an oboist in the CWC/community. Jennifer was awarded a Wyoming Arts Council grant in 2021 and continues to seek ways to grow and share the love of music with her students and community.
Secondary Vice President
Position Statement: I am excited to serve as the Secondary VP for the music educators in Wyoming. Professional Development is a vital part of growing as educators and musicians. I believe that by listening to the needs of our members, the workshop headliners and sessions should benefit all educators in the classroom. In Wyoming, we have unique needs for our students and I will work with the board and our members to provide beneficial and meaningful conference sessions.
Bio: Beth Kean began her teaching career at the elementary level at Rossman and Gilchrist Elementary schools in 2006. In 2008, she moved to Cheyenne East High School where she taught for seven years as the choral director. At East High School, Beth successfully prepared students for All-State Choir, All-Northwest NAfME honor choirs, All-Northwest ACDA honor choirs and National NAfME Honor choirs. She was also involved in the productions of the musicals Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma!, Hello, Dolly!, and Grease. Her choirs have performed throughout the Cheyenne area including the opening ceremony of the 2013 and 2018 State Senate. Ms. Kean began teaching at Laramie County Community College in 2015 where she created a vibrant music community for both non-majors and majors, as well as community members. While at LCCC, she directed the non-auditioned choir, Collegiate Chorale and auditioned choir, Cantorei. Under her direction, Cantorei performed in Carnegie Hall and had planned to perform in Lincoln Center in March of 2020. For one season, she served as the assistant director of the All-City Children’s Choir from 2018-2019. Currently, Beth is teaching choir at Laramie Middle School where she directs four different choirs. She also currently sings with the University of Wyoming Civic Chorus. She serves as an active clinician and adjudicator throughout the state. She received the Weiss Choral Music Educator of the Year award in 2013, and was the Music Educator of the Year for the Southeast District of Wyoming by the Wyoming Music Educators in 2019. Ms. Kean was the Choir Vice President for WMEA 2015-2017.
Band Vice President
Position Statement: I am running for Band Vice President because I am passionate about teaching and advocating for our band students in Wyoming. With the difficulties we have all experienced in the last two years – on top of the regular difficulties we face as music educators – it is important that we support each other as educators, as colleagues, and as friends. I’ve always heard that teaching in Wyoming is like being on an island; as Band VP I want to make our “islands” as accessible as possible to each other. I also believe that the All State Honor Ensembles provide an important service to our student musicians; the process should encourage them to reach their full potential. By connecting teachers to one another, by giving our students the best experiences possible, and by building on the work done by previous Band Vice Presidents, we can fulfill WMEA’s mission: Music for Learning, Music for Life.
Bio: Frank is in his fourth year of teaching in Washakie County School District #1 and currently serves as Band Director at Worland High School and Worland Middle School where he oversees all aspects of the instrumental music program. He is also a sponsor Worland’s Dungeons and Dragons Club. Frank grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and received his Bachelors of Music Education from Indiana State University in 2018.
Position Statement: Travis desires to hold the position of Band Vice President as he feels he has the experience and connections to help facilitate a quality experience for the students and directors at All-State. Travis is looking forward to making stronger connections with band teachers across the state!
Bio: Travis Swanson is in his 22nd year of teaching, and currently is in his 6th year of teaching in Big Piney. Big Piney offers a 5th Grade Band, 6th Grade Band, 7th/8th Grade Band, and a High School Band. Prior to moving to Wyoming, he taught in Colorado for 16 years, where he began his teaching career in Paonia, CO. The program consisted of 6th Grade beginners, two middle school bands, and a high school band, of which was a 4 time State-Finalist Marching Band. For 11 years Travis taught at Orchard Mesa Middle School in Grand Junction, CO, which encompassed 3 concert Bands and 3 Jazz Bands. In 2016, the Orchard Mesa Middle School 8th Grade Jazz Band was selected to perform at the Colorado Music Educators Association annual convention. While in Colorado, Travis was elected as President of the Western Slope District of the Colorado Bandmasters Association and served as a voting board member for 2 years. For over nine years, Travis was the Co-Chair for the Western Colorado Music Educators Honor Jazz Band. Held on a Friday and Saturday in January, there were 4 bands; 2 middle school and 2 high school bands. His duties included distributing all audition materials, organizing all submitted auditions, acquiring audition judges, obtaining and organizing the facilities, and helping with the literature and guest clinicians. Travis and his wife, Angela live in Big Piney and enjoy their 2 dogs traipsing all over the amazing outdoors that Wyoming offers
Position Statement: During my time on the board, as In-Ovations Vice President for one term and Elementary Vice President for two terms, I gained a better understanding of how music education in Wyoming contributes to the success of music teachers and students. I also gained a better understanding of how the WMEA board functions and works as a team. I believe that I can add to this board and lead our organization to ensure all voices in our great state are heard. This is also a challenging time in education and I believe that we need strong advocates for music education in our state. I believe that I can organize the WMEA board to advance advocacy for music education in Wyoming. I will support music educators at every level of music education and find common ground upon which we can build an even stronger foundation for music education in our state. Wyoming has a long history of outstanding music education, and I would like to contribute to that legacy.
Bio: Michael Jaycox is in his fifth year of teaching K-5 general music in Powell, WY and Clark, WY. He previously taught K-5 general music for 2 years and middle school choir, 6-12 band, and 9-12 choir for 3 years in Greybull, WY. He graduated with both a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master’s in Music Education from the University of Wyoming. During his time at UW, Michael was active in the collegiate music education program. He held offices in the UW chapter of CMENC, now NAfME, as secretary and twice as president, when he was responsible for bringing in clinicians to present to the local chapter. Michael also organized a community program where UW students performed at a local nursing home. In 2010, he received a certificate of achievement from NAfME for his dedication to music education and leadership as president with CMENC. In 2016, Michael was awarded the honor of Outstanding Young Music Educator for the North Big Horn Basin Music District. In the summer of 2019, Michael became an Orff-Schulwerk certified teacher, completing his levels at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. Michael has served in multiple positions on the WMEA board, as the In-Ovations Vice president for 2016-2018 and Elementary VP from 2018-2021.
Position Statement: As president of the Wyoming Music Educators Association I would like to support all levels of music education within our state and at all sizes of schools. Having taught K-12, college, and at both small and big schools, I know the challenges and opportunities found at each. As an advocate for music education I would work at the state, Northwest region, and national levels to promote quality music education in all schools and at all grade levels. Currently serving on the board as the Secondary Vice-President, I have had the opportunity to learn the inner workings of the Wyoming Music Educators Association. As president I would work closely with our general manager, site chairs, vice-presidents, and vendors to create and run conferences which are organized, well-communicated, and provide excellent opportunities for both music educators in professional development and our students in rehearsal and performance. In addition to the annual state conference, I would like to promote and create more opportunities throughout the year for our music educators including mentorship for new music teachers and music education majors. It is my goal to improve both our solo & ensemble system and festival opportunities across the state to be valuable experiences for our students and on par with other states. Having prior leadership experience with the Wyoming Music Educators Association, Washington Music Educators Association, and American Choral Directors Association, I believe that our professional organizations are instrumental in providing quality professional development, community, and communication which in turn provides stronger music education for our students. I would consider it an honor and privilege to serve you!
Bio: Katrina Rooney is in her twenty-third year as a music educator and has been the Director of Choirs at Kelly Walsh High School (Casper, Wyoming) for thirteen years. In addition to directing six choirs, she teaches AP Music Theory and is the vocal director for the annual Kelly Walsh Musical Theatre productions. Prior to teaching in Wyoming, she taught in Washington state, including elementary music, choir at Hanford High School (Richland, Washington), choir and orchestra at Enterprise Middle School (West Richland, Washington), directed choirs and vocal jazz as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, and taught Music Education and Class Voice courses as an Associate Professor at Central Washington University (Ellensburg, Washington). She holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree with endorsements in choral, instrumental, and general music, Master of Music degree in Conducting, and a Cognate in Music History, all from Central Washington University. She studied conducting with Dr. Gary Weidenaar and Dr. Nikolas Kaoile, and jazz studies with Dave Cazier, Vijay Singh, and Chris Bruya. Katrina studied voice with Dr. Linda Marra and Dr. Diane Thueson-Reich. Katrina is a member of the National Association for Music Educators, Wyoming Music Educators Association, and the American Choral Directors Association. She is a staff member and has directed the choir for the Wyoming Ambassadors of Music. While in college she served as Collegiate President on the Washington Music Educators Association Executive Board. She served as the 2014-2016 Wyoming American Choral Directors Association President, and is currently serving as the Wyoming Music Educators Association Secondary Vice-President.
Position Statement: I am extremely passionate about music education and the work that the Wyoming Music Educators Association does in Wyoming to support and promote educators and students. I have had the honor of serving on the WMEA Board in various capacities for the past 8 years and have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the great work of our organization. Through this work with so very many devoted people, it has pushed me to desire to become more involved with the work of the association. I am excited at the opportunity to run for President-Elect and the possibility to work with Steve and Brian to continue and advance the work of the association. I am very familiar with the workings of the board as a whole and feel that I can provide some continuity on the board and bring some ideas to help further the work of the association. Thank you all for your consideration of me for President-Elect and I look forward to the opportunity to work for you!
Bio:Andrew Salzman is in his ninth year of teaching music for Carbon County School District #1, currently the Director of Bands at Rawlins High School, he previously held positions as Director of Bands at Rawlins Middle School, and music specialist at Rawlins Elementary School. Andrew was WMEA Music Educator of the Year in 2021, and he is a 2019 and 2021 recipient of the Williams Crystal Apple Award given by top seniors of Carbon County School District #1 to teachers of influence. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education, and currently a Master of Music Education student at UW. In addition to being a member of NAfME and WMEA, currently serving as WMEA Board Secretary, he is also a member of the NEA and WEA. Andrew is active in his community through his involvement with the Rawlins Elks Lodge #609 and their many community service activities as Exalted Ruler, as well as other activities he helps with within the school district.