An 18 member “Think Tank,” the OMA Design Team is the heart and brain of Opening Minds through the Arts. Comprised of an equal representation of administrators, classroom teachers, arts integration specialists and teaching professional artists; they plan OMA workshops and professional development sessions, oversee the quality of instruction within the classrooms, align arts lessons to district initiatives and school programmatic choices, review student achievement and social growth data, and guide future opportunities for OMA's arts integration model.
Dr. Joan Ashcraft is Director of Fine and Performing Arts for the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD). She has collaboratively designed arts education programs including the Governor’s Award-winning Tucson Arts Connections and Opening Minds through the Arts (OMA). Dr. Ashcraft has built partnerships with arts organizations to design and implement sequential arts instruction for teachers and students through the Fine Arts Summer Institute, the OMA Arts Integration Academy and Intensives, the Teaching Artists Summer Institute, the traveling ARTSmobiles, the Fine Arts Youth Academy, and multiple internships for teachers and University students.
Dr. Ashcraft co-designed OMA, recognized nationally for its significant arts education research and student achievement data. OMA was awarded the Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination, the Professional Development in Arts Education, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers Federal Grants. Success of OMA research has produced national recognition for Tucson: Arts for Learning sponsored by National Young Audiences, Harvard Project Zero Qualities of Quality: Excellence in Arts Education and How to Achieve It, Dr. Milton Chen’s book Education Nation, and Arts Education Partnership’s publications entitled Third Space and Learning Partnerships. Under her leadership, TUSD Fine Arts received significant funds to pilot the Smart Music program. Dr. Ashcraft has toured as a presenter for the US Department of Education’s Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative.
Dr. Ashcraft has received the University of Arizona Faculty of Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Award, the Music Educator of the Year and the Music Administrator of the Year Awards presented by the Arizona Music Educators Association, the Rotary Four Test Award, the Governor’s Arts in Education Award twice, and the Tucson/Pima Arts Council’s Arts Education Award. In 2010, she was awarded the University of Arizona College of Fine Arts Alumnus of the Year Award. She has served on the Advisory Board for Partners in Education at the John F. Kennedy Center, and is a member of the America Society for Curriculum Development, the Arts Education Partnership, Music Educators National Conference, American Choral Director Association, and the Alliance for Arts Education. Dr. Ashcraft is committed to developing collaborative partnerships to assure the presence of arts programs in Arizona schools.
Janice Byrd has been a teacher at Peter Howell Elementary School for 13 years. She graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education and earned a Master's Degree in Bilingual/Multicultural Education with an endorsement in English as a Second Language. She also have an Early Childhood Endorsement and was recognized as a 2006 Rodel Exemplary Teacher by the Rodel Foundation of Arizona.
Peter Howell Elementary was one of two original OMA schools and Janice has been a part of OMA since its inception 10 years ago. Currently, Janice is the OMA Demonstration teacher for the primary grades at Peter Howell. Grade level teams come to her classroom to observe arts integration lessons. Teachers can also request her help with planning, team teaching or invite her to observe their arts integration lessons to provide valuable feedback. Janice is a recent member of the OMA Design Team and has found that she tremendously enjoys working with the OMA artists! Her primary passion is working with students but has found great enjoyment in providing valuable training for teachers in arts integration, Science, and Balanced Literacy.
Kimberly Chaffin (soprano), originally from Longmont, Colorado, graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance, and graduated with her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Arizona. Mrs. Chaffin has performed solo roles in the Fauré Requiem, the Mozart Requiem, Rossini's Stabat Mater, Mozart's Coronation Mass, Mozart's Mass in C Minor, and Handel's Messiah. Kimberly's operatic roles include Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Pamina in The Magic Flute, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Magda in La Rondine, and Alice Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Mrs. Chaffin has performed the role of Mary for the last five years in the Arts Express production of Follow the Star. Currently, Kimberly is singing in the Arizona Opera Chorus, and involved with the OMA Program (Opening Minds through the Arts), as a Teaching Artist, and Opera Team Coordinator, Trainer and Mentor. This is a student achievement program that was developed within the Tucson Unified School District, and it integrates all the arts (opera in the first and fifth grades) with the tested core curriculum. Mrs. Chaffin is also a ember of the OMA Design Team which is developing professional development for teachers and artists, and helping OMA to expand to other school districts around the country.
Dr. Pamela Brown Clarridge has been involved in public education for over 30 years. She received her BA from Northern Arizona University in Psychology and Special Education and holds two Master’s degrees from the University of Arizona in Educational Research and Measurement, and Educational Administration. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in Educational Psychology. She has been a program evaluator for local, state, and federal educational programs and has taught at the elementary level in both rural and suburban schools in Arizona. Most recently, she has been an elementary principal for 15 years, including 9 years as principal of two Opening Minds through the Arts (OMA) schools. She is committed to using her knowledge and experiences to bring arts integration to more and more students.
Sarah Clements came to education nearly nine years ago following over 20 years of service in the arts as the Executive Director of the Tucson Arts District Partnership, Inc. and, before that the head of the Tucson Parks and Recreation Department’s Performing Arts Unit. Sarah earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Ohio University in 1981 and her Masters in Education from Prescott College in 2006. Sarah has taught all elementary grades but Kindergarten and has integrated the arts into her classroom practice throughout her teaching career. She has most recently co-developed and implemented an arts integration demonstration program at Howell Elementary designed to support teachers in integrating the arts more fully into their teaching. She is currently a member of the OMA Design Team.
John Heidel has been an educator within TUSD for 43 years serving more than seven schools as either a teacher or a principal. Having worked in schools where the arts are incorporated as part of the standard curriculum, and in schools where arts are featured through OMA, he is convinced of the multiple benefits OMA provides for the entire educational structure. Currently John is Principal at Fruchthendler Elementary, an OMA Gold School. John is a fourth generation Tucsonan with deep roots in this community, and a proud member of a family of educators. As a child educated in TUSD, John personally benefited from the arts education offered at that time and went on to play in the University of Arizona Marching Band and was inducted into the national band honorary, Kappa Kappa Psi during his four years at the U of A.
Wendy Joy Koltnow has a Master of Fine Arts (1998) in Theatre Arts with a dance concentration from the University of Arizona and a Bachelor of Arts (1986) in dance from Douglass College at Rutgers University. In addition to working for the Tucson Unified School District as an Opening Minds through the Arts (OMA) Design Team Teaching Artist she is the director/developer of PROJECT:connect, an innovative program that fuses a dance education certification tract with the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Arizona. She is also a founding member of Zuzi!, a Tucson-based modern dance company she worked with for 10 seasons.
Wendy has extensive training in both classical ballet and modern dance, and has studied with and performed for such artists as Liz Lerman, David Rousseve, Alexei Yudenich, Don Redlich, Claudia Gitelman, and Melanie Stewart. Prior to coming to Tucson, Wendy was known throughout the southern New Jersey and Philadelphia areas for her teaching and choreography and was the owner and artistic director of dance images by wendy joy in Ventnor, NJ.
Andrew Kent has been a professional educator for 32 years. Andrew holds degrees from the University of Arizona in Special Education, Elementary Education, and Educational Administration. Andrew faithfully strives to model the lifelong learning he espouses, and is always seeking knowledge with post-graduate course work and other edifying experiences. He has taught grades 1, 3, 4, 6, and 8 in the public schools, as well as undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Phoenix. For 12 years, Andrew also served as the director of a “Space Education and Rocketry Summer School”. He has been an elementary principal for 16 years, currently at Marshall Elementary School in the Tucson Unified School District. As a school administrator, Andrew has been an Opening Minds through the Arts (OMA) principal for two schools and serves on the OMA Design Team.
Thom Lewis’ movement experience includes walking on fire, rappelling down buildings, riding an elephant, and street performing in France - he has also danced in more traditional French venues, and in Asia, Australia, and Las Vegas. He received an M.F.A. in theater arts and choreography from the University of Arizona in 1997. A recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, his work has been performed internationally by former Pilobolus dancers Dalton-Hartel Dance. The arts and news journal, The Tucson Weekly described his compositions as “delicious choreography . . . witty, musical, and inventive.” He has taught for OMA since 2004 and is currently the design team coordinator.
Christopher Moseley is a graduate of the University of Arizona where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting. He continued his education at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, earning his Master of Fine Arts Degree. After graduation, Chris worked on The American Conservatory Theater’s Main stage and understudying several roles at Berkely Repertory Theater. Chris then moved to Los Angeles where he continued to pursue work as a professional actor. After several years, Chris and his family moved back to Tucson. Chris began working with OMA in 2005 as a Teaching Artist at Wakefield Middle School. The next year he became the Theater Arts teacher at Cholla Magnet High School. Chris teaches the theater classes for the International Baccalaureate Program as well as the acting and technical theater curriculum. Chris has been fortunate enough to spend the last year traveling around Arizona facilitating workshops to help teachers learn how to integrate theater into their curriculum.
Chris is also a working actor. He has been seen in several Tucson theater productions with Live Theater Workshop and Beowulf Alley Theater. He most recently appeared in Live Theater Workshop’s production of Cloud Nine.
Julie Patrick received her BS from the University of Arizona, and worked for several years in Aerospace before returning to school to pursue her first love, education. Earning a Post Baccalaureate from Arizona State University, she returned to Tucson to complete her student teaching and to begin her new career. As a beginning teacher, she completed a Masters degree in Language, Reading and Culture with an emphasis in Children’s Literature. Julie taught grades 1, 2, 3, and 5 before transferring into the OMA Program. Having always included the arts in her lessons in order to enhance the curriculum, becoming an integrated arts specialist was a natural career move. Julie believes in being a life-long learner and continues to improve her pedagogy through professional development opportunities and readings.
Deena Reedy, D.M.A., has performed in recitals in Austria, Canada and throughout the U.S. Flutist of the Paloma Winds Quintet, she also performs chamber music in the Lee/ Reedy flute and piano duo, Hoeflicker/ Reedy flute and guitar duo and László Veres Trio. Her flute and piano recording, Softly and Tenderly, is available at www.deenareedy.com. A second recording is in the final stages of production. Dr. Reedy currently works as a Teaching Artist in the Opening Minds through the Arts program in the Tucson Unified School District, and teaches flute and is the Program Coordinator at the Music and Dance Academy in Tucson. She previously taught flute at Bradley University in Illinois and Schoolcraft College in Michigan. Dr. Reedy has also performed with the Farmington Area Philharmonic, Tucson Symphony and Tucson Pops Orchestra. Her flute mentors include Philip Swanson, John Bailey, Judith Bentley, Charles Delaney, and Christine Gustafson.
Sharon Voida, Program Development Specialist for the Opening Minds through the Arts (OMA) Program, has been an active participant of the OMA Design Team since its inception. Employed by Tucson Unified School District since 1991, she has held various administrative assistant positions.
As Budget Specialist, Sharon oversaw the administration of grant funds (Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grant, U.S. Department of Education, 2001-2004). During this period, the OMA Program expanded from four to thirty-seven TUSD schools. As Program Development Specialist, she assists in the development of Professional Development, marketing and implementation of the OMA Gold Program (Professional Development for Music Educators Grant, U.S. Department of Education, 2005-2008).
Having the belief that arts are an integral part in the development of children, she enjoys working to develop the OMA Program into a universal model for arts integration education. “Over the years I’ve seen many educational programs come and go. All of these programs target a specific group of students. The OMA Program is the only program that truly benefits every child, not only helping them to succeed academically, but to develop into a well-rounded, life-long learner, with the necessary skills to make a positive contribution to our society.”
Rachel Warren, the Arts Integration Specialist at Corbett Elementary School, is proud to be a part of ‘Tucson’s remarkable student achievement and school improvement program.’ Originally a 5th grade classroom teacher, Rachel strived to incorporate the arts in her curriculum. She utilized the opera process with her students and developed the first stage performance at Steele Elementary School in over 10 years. Having received a B.S. in Education with an Emphasis in Music from Northern Arizona University in 2003 her passion for music continued with an interest in the OMA Program. In 2004, she became an OMA Arts Integration Specialist and began experimenting with the concept of arts integration. Faced with the challenges of designing and developing a new and innovative curriculum, Rachel began working on her MA in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix. She completed the program in 2006 and has continued to research and focus on the topic of curriculum. Rachel believes in her students and challenges them to explore themselves through the arts. She lives by the philosophy that every child has something very special to offer the world, and through art all things are possible.
Dr. Lisa Renteria, bassoonist, holds a Bachelor of Music degree in performance from the University of Arizona, a Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music and a Doctorate in Musical Arts from The University of Arizona. She has won numerous performance competitions including the Tucson Symphony Young Artists Competition and University of Arizona Concerto Competition. In 2003, she was a national finalist in the Music Teachers National Association Competition. She currently plays with the Tucson Pops Orchestra and occasionally has the opportunity to perform with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra as well as many other local ensembles as a free-lance musician. She also maintains a private studio of young bassoonists. Dr. Renteria has had the wonderful opportunity to work in the Opening Minds through the Arts (OMA) program. She teaches in the kindergarten classrooms as part of an instrumental trio using music as a tool to teach curriculum.