David DeVoto is a director of orchestras at Allen High School. Mr. DeVoto earned a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of North Texas in 1994. While at UNT, he was a member of the Symphony Orchestra, Opera Orchestra, and String Orchestra and was a student of Anshel Brusilow, James Kjelland, and Jeff Bradetich. Starting in 1997, he served as director of the Lake Highlands Junior High Orchestras in Richardson ISD. In 2002, Mr. DeVoto became the director of the Allen High School Orchestra. The AHS Orchestra placed in the final round of the TMEA Honor Full Orchestra competition the following school year. In 2006, the Allen High School Orchestra was invited to perform at the 60th annual Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, Illinois and again, placed in the final round of the TMEA Honor Full Orchestra competition. In 2014, the Allen HS Orchestra received the American Prize in Orchestral Performance (High School). During Mr. DeVoto’s tenure, the AHS program has grown from 2 Student Orchestras to 10 Student Orchestras. In addition to orchestra, Mr. DeVoto helped to create music theory, music history, and composition for the International Baccalaureate program at Allen HS in 2006. He has served as Orchestra Division Chair for UIL Region III and Region Vice-President and Orchestra Division Chair for UIL Region XXV. Mr. DeVoto has served as a UIL Orchestra PML Committee Chair and as a TMAA Committee Member on Standards of Adjudication and Performance Practices. Mr. DeVoto holds memberships in Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Music Adjudicators Association, Mu Omicron, and has served as a board member of the Texas Orchestra Directors Association, distinguished as Past President. In September 2000, he was a recipient of the Minyard’s “First Class Teacher” award. Mr. DeVoto was the recipient of the 2003-2004 Standing Ovation Award given each year by the Allen Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra to the person who has made a significant contribution to the Arts in Allen. In 2016, Mr. DeVoto was named a UIL Sponsor Excellence Award winner.
Matt Cross is a director of orchestras at Allen High School. Mr. Cross received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Baylor University, and his Master of Music Education from Texas Tech University. He previously taught in the districts of Midway ISD and Richardson ISD. His ensembles have consistently received sweepstakes ratings at UIL and Best in Class awards at festivals. Before he started teaching, Mr. Cross served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as part of the intelligence cell of his infantry unit. He is a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Mr. Cross is also a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Music Adjudicators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, National Association of Music Educators, and Mu Omicron. He is currently serving as Vice-President for Mu Omicron and the TMEA Region Vice-President for Region XXV and was the 2016-2018 Orchestra Region Chair. He frequently serves as a clinician, guest conductor, and adjudicator across the state. Mr. Cross is actively involved in music education research and has presented his studies at both the TMEA and NAfME conferences. In addition to teaching, Mr. Cross currently performs with both the Richardson Symphony Orchestra and the Allen Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.
Ellen Townley is a director of orchestras at the Allen Lowery Freshman Center. Ms. Townley comes to Allen ISD from Sugar Land, Texas where she served as the Head Orchestra Director at Dulles Middle School in Fort Bend ISD, a position she held for eleven years. Miss Townley, a native of Norman, Oklahoma, received her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of North Texas in Denton, and a Master of Music in viola performance from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. While attending Northwestern University, Miss Townley was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago viola section. She has been Orchestra Director at Clute Intermediate, Brazosport ISD; Sugar Land Middle School and Hodges Bend Middle School; Fort Bend ISD. Her groups have continually received the UIL “Sweepstakes” award. Under her direction, the Dulles Middle School Orchestra was awarded first place at the Bluebonnet Classic (1998) and the Buckaroo Showcase of Music (1999, 2000, 2001, & 2002). In addition to the first place awards at the Buckaroo Showcase, the orchestra was selected as the Overall Outstanding Orchestra in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2005. Under her direction, the Dulles MS Orchestra was invited to perform at the 54th annual Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, Illinois. In 1997 she was named Dulles MS Teacher of the Year. In addition to her teaching, Miss Townley is active as a clinician and judge throughout the state of Texas and was an active freelance violist in the Houston area. She is a member of the American Federation of Musicians Union, American String Teachers Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, Texas Music Educators Association, and is listed twice in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. She has served on the board of directors for the Texas Orchestra Directors Association and is distinguished as Past-President. Currently, she is Secretary/Treasurer of Mu Omicron.
Charles Robinson is a director of orchestras at the Allen Lowery Freshman Center. Mr. Robinson comes to Allen ISD from Abilene, Texas where he was the Orchestra Director at Clack Middle School for four years. During his time at Clack the program grew from 60 students and three classes to 140 students and seven classes. Mr. Robinson’s orchestras won Sweepstakes and Superior ratings at UIL Concert and Sightreading Competitions in 2013, 2014, and 2015, as well as Superior and Outstanding Performance ratings at Spring in the Park, Bluebonnet, and Big “D” Festivals. During the summers of 2009 through 2013, Mr. Robinson served as a counselor, and later as a faculty member at Camp Encore-Coda in the state of Maine. While serving as a faculty member, he conducted the string orchestra, taught violin lessons, and coached chamber music. Prior to teaching at Clack Middle School, Mr. Robinson attended Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, where he graduated Cum Laude in 2011. While at Hardin-Simmons, he principled in both voice and violin, performing recitals in both areas, as well as being selected the 2009 Honors Performer in voice and violin. Mr. Robinson studied violin with Peter Isaacson, voice with Jaynne Middleton, viola with Peter Neubert, cello with Kristin Isaacson, and conducting with Loyd Hawthorne. Mr. Robinson is a member of Texas Music Educators Association. In his off-time, he enjoys traveling to national parks to camp, hike, and take pictures.
Valerie Curry is a director of orchestras at Ford Middle School. Valerie Curry, Ford MS Orchestra Director, is in her 20th year of public school teaching. She previously taught in the districts of Austin, Mesquite and Garland. Throughout her career, Mrs. Curry’s orchestras have received several first division ratings at UIL and other competitions. Her groups have also received several “Best in Class” awards at various festival competitions. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. While at the university, she studied violin with Vincent Frittelli and taught in the String Project under Phyllis Young. Mrs. Curry served as conductor of the Young Performers Orchestra, one of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestras until 2005. Her husband is a Principal in McKinney and they have 2 boys, Cole and Cooper.
Laura Gilbert is a director of orchestras at Ford Middle School. Ms. Gilbert received her Bachelor of Music in Education, summa cum laude, from The University of Texas at Arlington where she was a member of the UT Arlington Symphony Orchestra and The Clover String Quartet. She has previously taught strings at Arlington Classics Academy and teaches private lessons on violin and viola. Ms. Gilbert grew up in Allen where she went through the orchestra programs at Ereckson Middle School and Allen High School. She is a member of the Texas Music Educators’ Association and the Texas Orchestra Directors Association. In 2019, Ms. Gilbert received the 2019 “Marjorie Keller” Outstanding Young Teacher of the Year Award.
Amanda Su is a director of orchestras at Curtis Middle School. She received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Baylor University and her Master of Education Administration degree from Lamar University. Mrs. Su started on the violin at the young age of five under the direction of her father. She graduated from Berkner High School in Richardson and was a two-time Texas All-State Orchestra Member. While at Baylor University, under the supervision of Dr. Michael Alexander, Mrs. Su served as one of the original teachers of the Baylor String Project, which is a supplemental orchestra program for Waco and Midway ISD students. After student teaching in Allen ISD, Mrs. Su began her teaching career at Liberty Junior High School in Richardson, where she taught for three years. Her groups have received consistent UIL Sweepstakes awards and Best in Class Awards. Under her direction, the Curtis Middle School Symphony Orchestra has been a finalist of the TMEA MS Honor Full Orchestra competition four times, placing in the Full Orchestra Contest as 1st Runner Up in 2017 and 2019 and 2nd Runner Up in 2018. The Curtis Middle School Chamber Orchestra also placed in the final round TMEA MS String Honor Orchestra competition in 2019 and 2020. The Curtis MS Symphony Orchestra was named the TMEA MS Honor Full Orchestra in 2020. Additionally, The Foundation for Music Education has named both the Curtis Chamber Orchestra and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra National Winners of the Mark of Excellence/National Orchestra Honors Project. Mrs. Su was awarded the 2017 “Marjorie Keller” Outstanding Young Teacher of the Year Award. Mrs. Su was also honored as the Curtis Middle School 2020 Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Su is currently the Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor for the Dallas Asian American Youth Orchestra (DAAYO). In addition to her teaching, Mrs. Su is an active clinician and judge in the Dallas area and around the state. She is currently serving as Region Chair for UIL Region XXV and was the 2018-2020 Region Chair-Elect and 2016-2018 Middle School Orchestra Chair. Mrs. Su currently serves on the UIL Orchestra PML Committee and served on the UIL Orchestra Sight-Reading Committee from 2015-2016. As a violinist, Mrs. Su has performed with Allen Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Waco Symphony, Temple Symphony, and the Richardson Symphony Orchestra. She is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Music Adjudicators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, and Mu Omicron. When Mrs. Su is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends and traveling with her husband, Matt, who is also an orchestra director.
Amy Gearhart is a director of orchestras at Curtis Middle School. As a native of Saline, Michigan, she earned a music education degree from Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan and studied abroad at Oxford University. Ms. Gearhart began her teaching career in Plano ISD in the fall of 1997 at Haggard and Renner Middle Schools. In 1999, Ms. Gearhart opened Rice Middle School, also in Plano ISD. In 2001, she was named the TxASTA “Marjorie Keller” Outstanding Young Teacher Award. For several years, Ms. Gearhart also served as a conductor for the New Conservatory of Dallas and the Music in the Mountains Camp in Durango, Colorado. In 2010, she joined the Lovejoy Orchestra program and helped grow the orchestra program for nine years. In 2014, she opened Lovejoy’s middle school campus, Willow Springs, where she was the head director. She and her husband, Brad, who is an orchestra director in Lewisville ISD, reside in Allen with their daughters, Cassidy and Delaney. She is also an active member of the worship team at her church, Life Fellowship, in McKinney, Texas.
Joanna DeVoto is a director of orchestras at Ereckson Middle School. She is a graduate of Sam Houston State University where she was the President of the Symphony Orchestra, and played under the direction on Dr. Carol Smith. While at Sam Houston she also studied cello with Dr. Peter Kempter. Mrs. DeVoto began her teaching career in 2002 in Klein ISD (Houston), and then worked for the Plano Independent School District after she moved to the DFW area. In addition to consistent UIL Sweepstakes and Best in Class awards, under the leadership of Mrs. DeVoto, the Ereckson Chamber Orchestra has placed in the TMEA Honor Orchestra string finals the last several years. The Symphony Full Orchestra from Ereckson Middle School has been named Best in Class at the Peak Music Festival and has been named a TMEA Honor Finalist each year since 2015. In 2018, the Ereckson Symphony Orchestra was proud to become the first instrumental TMEA honor group from Allen ISD. Both the Chamber and Full Orchestra from Ereckson have also been named National Winners in the Mark of Excellence competition. In addition to her accomplishments as an orchestra director, Mrs. DeVoto was also honored to be named Ereckson Middle School’s 2018 Teacher of the Year. Mrs. DeVoto spends time as an active clinician and judge in the Dallas area and around the state. Her professional affiliations include Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, Texas Music Adjudicators Association and Mu Omicron. When not conducting an orchestra, Mrs. DeVoto enjoys spending time with her husband David DeVoto, also an orchestra director, and their French bulldog Diego. Mr. and Mrs. DeVoto also enjoy volunteering on the tech team at Preston Trail Community Church.
Rachel Boone is a director of orchestras at Ereckson Middle School. Prior to that, she was a director at Shepton High School and Renner Middle School in Plano ISD. Ms. Boone began studying violin privately at the age of nine. During her preparatory years, she participated in numerous youth orchestras including the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra (GDYO), the New Conservatory of Dallas, and the Richardson ISD orchestra program. She frequently served as concertmaster and in principal roles in these orchestras. Additionally, she participated in the TMEA All-State Orchestra, and other local and regional honor orchestras. Ms. Boone studied under Ron Neal with the Dallas Chamber Orchestra and Adriana DeCosta with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. After graduating high school, Ms. Boone continued to follow her passion for music at Texas Christian University as a Chancellor’s Scholar where she earned a Bachelors Degree in Music. She performed in the TCU Symphony, often in a principal role, under the direction of German Gutiérrez. She is an active member of the Texas Music Educator’s Association, Texas Orchestra Director Association, serves as a freelance musician with various chamber groups and continues to teach private violin lessons. In her free time, she enjoys playing her ukulele, sketching and spending time with friends, family and her dog, Nellie.