WMEA Candidates for Office 2023-25:
Choir Vice President
Position Statement: Anissa believes that the best way to foster growth among young Wyoming voices is to bring them together and provide them opportunities that would not normally be available. Anissa’s goal as the Choral VP of WMEA is to foster a close knit choral community within Wyoming. She will do so through improving inter-school communication among choral teachers. She also hopes to encourage teachers to connect with each other to share ideas, wisdom, and their choirs. In the Choral VP position Anissa will bring in several quality conductors and presenters to continue the growth of young singers in Wyoming.
Bio: Anissa Bree is in her 22nd year of teaching vocal music in Cody, Wyoming. She has been inspiring young singers at Cody Middle School for 22 years, and recently was granted the tremendous opportunity to be teaching at Cody High School as well. Anissa is currently the Wyoming ACDA President. With this position, she has been able to connect with choral educators across the state and work to create a stronger Wyoming choral community. Anissa has had the honor of being a guest conductor at multiple school districts in the state of Wyoming, most notably in Casper conducting their Middle Level Honor Choir. In the fall of 2022 Anissa was invited to adjudicate at Sheridan High School and Buffalo Middle School Festivals. This allowed her to work with young singers and expand her teaching experience.
Anissa received her Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Wyoming. Prior to her education at UW, Anissa also attended Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. There she sang with the Studio Singers, Choral Art and the NWC Chorale. Anissa’s post-collegiate performing experience includes conducting the Northwest College Master Chorale in Powell, Wyoming and singing with the Cody Chorale, under the direction of Margaret Ruth Bullock.
Position Statement: I have served in several ways through this organization and Choir Vice President is the next logical move. I feel that I have the experience to adequately serve the state in this position and the knowledge to do it well.
Bio: Ashley Lecholat started her 22 year teaching career at Alliance High School in Alliance, Nebraska. Currently, Ashley is the choral director at Sheridan High School and has been in that position since August of 2006. During this time, Ashley has served as the Northeast District President and on the WMEA Board for eight years (I think it was 8…?). Most recently she was the host site chair for 2023 Wyoming All State Music held at Sheridan High School. Ashley teaches Mixed Choir, Treble Choir, Honor Choir, Spectrum (a select jazz and show choir) and a Guitar-Piano class. Her groups have earned numerous superior ratings at the Northeast District Festival, Black Hills State Jazz Festival, Best of the West in Scottsbluff, NE, Powell Jazz Festival, Montana MSUB Jazz Festival, and Kinser Jazz Festival. She continues to have success with students participating in All State Choir, All State Jazz Choir, and All Northwest Choir. Ashley can often be found cheering for her son, Sam, and the Montana State Bobcats Men’s basketball team or chatting with her first born, Ben, who has been accepted into physical therapy school in several programs and has yet to choose where he will study in the fall. She has been married to Tony for 27 years. They met in 6th grade when he walked over from Holy Name School to play Clarinet in the Central Middle School band where Ashley played flute. The flirting began in 11th grade Chemistry class and backstage while in the musical Bye Bye Birdie, but that is a story for another day.
Elementary Vice President
Position Statement: What a thrilling moment to be nominated to serve as the Elementary VP for the music educators in Wyoming. I have always felt that elementary music educators are all alone in their building. Their best friends are the Phys. Ed. teacher and custodians. Most of the time professional development is for the general educators and not us. I believe that I can be a great listener to our elementary music teachers and help provide outstanding workshop headliners and sessions that will help benefit all. I can’t wait to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes with the WMEA board. I have attended National Conferences with OAKE for many years as well as our local Orff chapter workshops. I can’t wait to work with our board!
Bio: Ivalene Dean is in her 17th year of teaching K-5 general music in Laramie, WY (nine years). She previously taught K-12 vocal, band, orchestra, piano, and guitar at Rock River school along with fifth grade band and a private piano studio in Laramie. Before moving to Laramie, she taught in Campbell County School District JK-6 general music at five schools, two rural. She was the director of the Campbell County Children’s Choir for eight years and went to every OAKE National Conference with almost 20-25 choir members attending each year. As well as opening a private piano studio in her home. She graduated with an Associate of Music from Northwest College in Powell, WY and a Bachelor’s in K12 Music Education from University of Wyoming. During these years, Ivalene was an active member in choir, jazz choir, jazz ensembles, band, jazz band, piano and voice. She was nominated for Teacher of the Year for ACSD1 in 2019. She met her college sweetheart in the music department at UW and has been married to Adam Dean for 14 years. They have two beautiful girls, Addison and Layla. She is a cancer survivor of 5 years now! Ivalene loves playing a great game of volleyball and enjoys serving as President of her daughters All Star Cheer team. On top of all this, she has run a cosmetic business for 18 years.
Position Statement: I am truly humbled to have been nominated for the Elementary Vice President position for Wyoming Music Educators Association. I believe that elementary music plays such a vital role in the musical upbringing of our students. Many times, we are the very first experience students have with making music. That is no small feat. It is our charge to help them grow a love for music that they will carry with them their entire lives. I believe that elementary music is often in their own element, working solo to build this foundation. I think this should change. We need to work with and build stronger relationships with our secondary teachers. This will help create solid and lasting bonds to ensure the lifelong musical successes of our students. Together we can achieve so much more for our students and for music education. Lastly, I believe that music is essential for all of our students, especially our students with special needs. The music room is a wonderful place for all of our students to thrive.
Bio: Kati has been in the classroom setting for the past 20 years, 18 of which have been teaching elementary and middle school general music and choir. Kati graduated from Hastings College in 2002 with a K-12 Vocal Music Education degree. She began her teaching career in Brighton, CO where she taught K-8 general and vocal music. While teaching, she obtained her Master’s Degree in PreK-12 Adaptive Special Education from Fort Hays State University. Upon returning to Wyoming, she spent two years in Special Education classrooms in Sheridan before moving to Powell. Kati has been at Southside Elementary in Powell for the past 11 years. She helps lead the Powell Kids Chorus; an after school choir for fifth Graders. Her students also attend the Big Horn Basin Music Festival every year. This festival is a positive atmosphere for Big Horn Basin elementary students to experience making music with other students from the basin schools. Powell will be hosting this event this spring. In her free time, you can find Kati involved in activities with her daughter Hannah, a senior at PHS, and son Austin, an 8th grader at PMS. Kati wants to build her students love of music that they can carry with them for a lifetime.
Position Statement: Elementary music is so important to me because in my opinion, it is a magical, “make or break moment” in our student’s lives. It is a small window of time where we can find a contact point, “a way in” to find how this child will engage with music in a way that is meaningful to them. Without this seed planted–when we lose that moment or point of contact–it only gets harder to keep students engaged in music as they transition into middle and high school.
I am seeking to serve as the Elementary VP because I want to be a part of representing the important, incredible, and challenging work we do in an elementary music classroom. I look forward to learning from others around the state to bring helpful, diverse, and engaging programs to our state conference.
Bio: Estela Torres Guernsey is a Gillette, Wyoming native and University of Wyoming graduate. She received her Bachelor of Music Education with a minor in Spanish in 2018, and plans to graduate with her Master of Music Education from the University of Kentucky in December 2023. Estela currently teaches K-6 General Music and 5th/6th grade Instrumental Music at Paintbrush Elementary School in Gillette, where she runs a before school choir program and an after school ukulele club. She is also theAssistant Director of the Campbell County High School Marching Band, and assists with the CCSD Summer Music Camp. She was the recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Young Music Educator Award for Wyoming. Estela finds joy in helping students discover the magic and sense of accomplishment that comes from making music together in community, and hopes to inspire her students to keep music a part of their lives, always.
Orchestra Vice President Elect
Position Statement: In seeking the office of WyoMEA Orchestra VP, I aim to serve the orchestra teachers in our state to the best of my ability and work to improve and implement the systems that are already in place for the betterment of the organization as a whole. Cooperation and collaboration are at the heart of my personal philosophy. I intend to work with teacher’s at all levels in the state to improve what already works, implement new ideas as needed and streamline processes as much as we can. Orchestra is an essential part of state curriculum and we are blessed to have it in a state that has as small a population as ours does. I am honored to be nominated, hope for your vote and am excited by the future that we can build together. Thank you for your consideration.
Bio: Gary DePaolo received his bachelor’s degree in Viola Performance from DePaul University in Chicago, IL. While attending he studied with Chicago Lyric Opera Principal Violist, Rami Solomonov and was coached in chamber music by the Chicago String Quartet. Having recently completed his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Montana State University, DePaolo is entering his tenth year as the director of the orchestra and guitar programs at Kelly Walsh High School in Casper Wyoming. In 2019 his groups joined Laramie High School and the String Academy of Wyoming to travel to and perform in Ireland. His orchestras collaborate with Casper College regularly. This year they are premiering a piece by up and coming composer Stephanie Anne Boyd in March as part of a national collective of high school and college orchestras.
DePaolo has been a guest director for the Wyoming State String Clinic and judge for Colorado ASTA. He is also an adjunct string instructor at Casper College and the principal violist of the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra. Both are positions that he has held for the last 21 years. In 2022 DePaolo collaborated as a content creator for Conn-Selmer’s musicprofessor.com and his viola curriculum will now be offered nationally and internationally via the online service. DePaolo is an avid composer having created underscores for Richard the 3rd, The Diviners, The Scarlet Letter , the Laramie project and various other works. He has always been a collaborator with local bands and musical groups. His group “ Leave it to S.H.I.V.A.” was featured in the Wyoming Arts Council 2021 “Summer Roadtrip” playlist. In 2022 he began a new electronica and strings project with his wife Jennifer DePaolo. DePaolo’s private teaching focuses on ease and tension-free viola playing with traditional and nontraditional repertoire. In his spare time he likes to hike and explore Wyoming’s open spaces and wilderness areas with his wife, son and daughter.
Position Statement: I am excited to have the opportunity to serve as orchestra vice-president once again. As a retired string teacher, playing and performing remains a large part of my life, and I continue to be very passionate about music education and its importance to the educational development of young people. Having served on the WMEA board 5 times, I bring a lot of experience to this position. I understand the time commitment that this position entails, and the advantage of being retired will allow me to give the role my utmost dedication and continue to ensure that music education is a premier resource for Wyoming students and educators and ensure that our students have the best experience possible.
Bio: Bob was the Concertmaster of the 1972 All-State Orchestra in Rock Springs, Wy. He graduated from the University of Wyoming and took the reins from his former teacher at East High and Carey Junior High in Cheyenne where he continued for 42 years. For much of his career, he also taught at the elementary level where he was able to watch his students grow from beginner to high school graduate. Bob served 5 times as orchestra vice president. During this tenure he commissioned a work by Jim Colonna for the All-State Orchestra. For the 2000 Wyoming All-State, Bob’s orchestra was selected to perform for the host night concert in Powell, Wyoming, where he brought an impressive four busloads of students from Cheyenne to Powell to perform. Bob’s student groups have been selected for many honors over the years such as performing for All-Northwest in Spokane, Washington, as well as being selected to perform in Washington, D.C., as a musical representative for Wyoming. He also provided opportunities for his orchestras perform in Hawaii on two different occasions, as well as performing aboard two cruise ships in the Bahamas. Bob’s flagship group at East was called, “East High Strolling Strings”, where he instilled a love of various musical genres, performing for community and charitable events over 40 times a year, including the annual parades at Cheyenne Frontier Days for 22 straight years, winning float of the year 7 times. When Bob retired in 2018, he kept the group going, but changed the name to the Cheyenne Fiddle Orchestra where they continue to perform for community functions throughout the year. Bob has written a lot of music for his students over the years. He is published with Young World Publications, Kjos Music and has pieces on “Editor’s choice” for JW Pepper. Some of his works are on several state lists as approved selections for festival. He won the Texas Orchestra Director’s Competition with a piece that he wrote about his grandchildren called “Fortunatis”. He was commissioned to write a piece for the Cheyenne Symphony, called, “Wyoming, A Tone Poem”. He currently has 260 pieces on Hal Leonard’s website. On a personal level, Bob is equally at home playing in a symphony orchestra, as he is playing dances with his band. He has been a member of the Cheyenne and Casper symphonies, and Cheyenne Little Theatre pit orchestras. He was a member of the Chugwater Philharmonic String Quartet for 38 years. Bob has played with Mannheim Steamroller and Frank Sinatra Jr. He is the 5-time Wyoming Old-time Fiddle Champion and 2-time National Fanciest Fiddle Champion. Bob’s biggest passion is making sure that all the students he has had the privilege to teach have a love and appreciation for all types of music that they carry with them throughout the rest of their life.
Position Statement: The secretary for the Wyoming Music Education Association is an important position that helps maintain the order of meetings as well as the records of what is happening during the meetings in order to inform the membership about discussions and decisions made. I am passionate about music education and am looking for ways to be involved on the board to help music education grow and be a driving force in our state. I have loved the work all of the past members have done and am looking forward to hopefully being able to help continue the great work of the past secretaries and board members.
Bio: Mary McGillivray is currently in her 12th year of teaching music. She works at Lakeview Elementary in Campbell County School District #1 teaching JrK – 6th Grade General Music. Her previous 11 years of teaching were at Ralph Witters Elementary/Thermopolis Middle School/Hot Springs County High School in Hot Springs County School District #1. Mary attended Casper College and then moved on to Black Hills State University, where she received a Bachelors in Vocal Music Performance, a Bachelors in Music Education, and a minor in Speech Communications: Theatre Emphasis. In 2015, Mary received her Masters in Music Education from the University of Wyoming. Mary previously held the position of secretary for the North Big Horn Basin District for 3 years. She has also been President, Vice-President, and a board member of the Wyoming Educators of Secondary Theatre (now known as the Wyoming Thespian Society). Mary was chosen as the Outstanding Young Music Educator for the North Big Horn Basin in 2016. Mary received Teacher of the Month in September of 2015 and was a Bobcat Champion for Children in 2019-2020. She has presented a workshop at the Wyoming Music Educators Conference on Vocal Health and ran an Elementary Reading Session. Mary has also been a member of various committees, both with her previous and current school districts as well as within her music and theatre districts/groups.
Position Statement: The job of secretary of a board such as the Wyoming Music Educators Association is a very important job. Not only do they keep record of all of the business of the organization but on our board are also integral in assisting with parliamentary procedure. I have found working in the capacity of keeping the record of our business as well as lending my knowledge of parliamentary procedure rewarding and a job that I would like to continue in with this great organization. I enjoy working with the members of the board in guiding our organization in a direction that does what’s best for the music education of the students of our great state. For these reasons I would like to continue to serve as WMEA Secretary.
Bio: Andrew Salzman is in his tenth year of teaching music for Carbon County School District #1, currently the Director of Bands and Fine Arts Coordinator 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 Wyoming Music Educators Association, Music Educator of the Year in 2021, and he is a 2019, 2021 and 2022 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, Music Education student at the University of Wyoming. In addition to being a member of NAfME and WMEA, currently serving as WMEA Board Secretary, he is also a member of the National Band Association, Sigma Chi Chapter of Phi Beta Mu – International Bandmasters Fraternity, National Education Association, Wyoming Education Association and the Carbon One Educators Association. Andrew is active in his community through his involvement with the Rawlins Elks Lodge #609 and their many community service activities as a Lodge Trustee, as well as other activities he helps with within the school district.