MUSIC TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Director of Instrumental Music Education, Marquette University High School
Randy Skowronski began his teaching career in Kenosha as director of the Symphonic Band, Concert Band and Blue Jazz Ensemble at Tremper High School and was one of the founding directors of the Band of the Black Watch. During that time, he served as vice-president of the Mid-America Competing Band Directors Association (MACBDA) and was the recipient of the Award of Exceptional Merit from the Kenosha Band Booster organization.
Currently, Randy is completing his 37th year as instrumental music director at Marquette University High School, where his students enjoy an extensive jazz program consisting of seven ensembles in four fully credited courses. Jazz Lab 4, the program’s flagship ensemble, has earned first place awards at several jazz festivals including UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Platteville, UW-La Crosse, Marquette University, and Jazz Festivals at Sea. The group was selected to take part in the pilot program for Disney’s Jazz It Up! performance and workshop experience, which is now offered regularly as part of the Disney Performing Arts programs at both Disneyland and Disney World. His students have studied and/or performed with Harry Connick, Jr., Charles McPherson, Jeff Coffin, Snarky Puppy, Tamara Danielsson, Per Danielsson, Brian Lynch, Dave Riekenberg, Danny Jordan, Kim Richmond, Ernie Watts, Ernie Adams, and Carl Allen.
Randy has studied music at various institutions throughout the United States, including the University of North Texas, California Institute of the Arts, UW-Milwaukee, and UW-Parkside. His private trumpet instructors have included Don “Jake” Jacoby (Dallas, TX), Luther Didrikson (Evanston, IL), and John Hemkes (Racine, WI). He has been employed by Walt Disney Entertainment, Six Flags Great America, and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Performance credits include Lionel Hampton, Richie Cole, The Temptations, The 5th Dimension, Buddy Greco, The Manhattan Transfer, Jack Jones, Allan Jones, Rita Moreno, Don Rickles, Frank Gorshin, The Four Lads, The Four Aces, The Four Freshmen, Jerry Van Dyke, Al Martino, Martin Mull, Phyllis Diller, Rip Taylor, Smothers Brothers, Steve Allen, Four Tops, Vic Damone, Diahann Carroll, Frankie Laine, Roger Miller, Jackie Mason, Jerry Vale, Patti Andrews, Peter Nero, Roger Williams, Theresa Brewer, Connie Stevens, Frank Stallone, Charlie Callas, Johnny Yune, Norm Crosby, Sergio Franchi, Jimmie Rogers, Foster Brooks, The Lettermen, and Bill Acosta.
MSO ACE TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Kindergarten Teacher, Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts,
Milwaukee Public Schools
Jessica Maxwell is grateful to be in her 9th year teaching 5-year-old kindergarten at Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts in MPS. Prior to teaching kindergarten, she enjoyed teaching preschool, spent two remarkable years in South Africa as an Education and Community Resource Volunteer with US Peace Corps, and worked in Human Resources. Jessica received a BA in Communications from UW-Whitewater with a music minor and earned her teaching licensure and MA in Education from Alverno College.
In recalling her own educational path, Jessica fondly thinks on the prominent role the arts, especially music, have played throughout; enriching and expanding her whole world of learning, figuratively and literally. In her teaching, she employs arts integration with the aim to engage students in meaningful experiences that enhance learning in all subject areas, nurture an appreciation for and enjoyment of the arts, encourage creative expression, and build connections between ideas, people, and communities.
Jessica is thankful to work with an extraordinary staff at Milwaukee Parkside that values arts integration and prioritizes exposing students to diverse arts experiences. She also feels incredibly lucky for the opportunity to be a part of the MSO Arts in Community Education (ACE) Program, to connect and collaborate with so many talented artists and educators. She would like to extend many thanks to her amazing and supportive family, friends, and colleagues, and to the MSO and CIVIC MUSIC MKE.
CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE
INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC INSTRUCTION
Band Director, Muskego High School, Muskego-Norway School District
Matt Mueller is in his 25th year in education and 8th year as band director at Muskego High School where he conducts four concert bands, three jazz ensembles, and the 200+ member Muskego High School Marching Band. Prior to his current position, Matt taught Band, AP Music Theory, Music in Film, and Beginning Guitar at Waukesha West High School, Marathon High School, and Spring Grove School. He has conducted ensembles in performance at the Wisconsin Music Educators Association (WMEA) State Music Conference, National Band Association-WI Chapter State Convention and won numerous Class AAAA Wisconsin State Music Association (WMSA) Marching Band Championships.
Matt has had the privilege of working with some of the best educators in the Milwaukee area including Tom Ajack, Dan Duffy, Michael Poytinger, Jamie Beckman, Gen Michels, and Matt Wanner.
Matt is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin - LaCrosse where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Instrumental Music Education and VanderCook College of Music where he earned his Master of Music Education. During his coursework, he studied under Buzz Hoefer, Greg Balfany, Karyn Quinn, James Wheat, Charles Menghini, and Mike Pendowski.
Matt lives in Muskego with his wife Liz, two sons Emmett and Westley, and their dog Scout.
CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE
CHORAL MUSIC INSTRUCTION
Choral Music Director, Port Washington High School,
Port Washington-Saukville School District
Dennis Gephart is in his 23rd year as Director of Choral Activities at Port Washington High School, where he directs four curricular and three extracurricular choral groups. During his time in Port Washington, his choirs have been honored to perform for a wide range of audiences. Under his direction, groups have performed for audiences from New York City at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Lincoln Center, to the Basilica San Marco in Venice, Italy. In 2016, he was part of a group of educators working in conjunction with the Wisconsin State Music Association to develop the nation's first Contemporary A cappella Solo and Ensemble event for Wisconsin students. That same year he co-founded Wisconsin's first A Cappella Summer Camp, “A Cappella University” held at UW Parkside in July for both students and educators.
In 2015, the Port Washington High School’s Contemporary A cappella ensemble, “Limited Edition,” was honored to be featured at the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association (WCDA) State Convention. In addition, the group has advanced to the International High School A cappella National Championships in New York City seven times, placing as one of the top five groups in the nation five of those times and winning the National Championship in 2010. In 2019, they were featured at the A cappella Education Association Convention and named the Nation's Best High School Contemporary Ensemble by the National A Cappella Music Awards. That same year they were featured in the PBS special “ACAPOCALYPSE- A Capella’s New Note.”
Dennis was the WCDA State Honors Vocal Jazz Assistant Director from 2007 -11 and served as Assistant Director for the Wisconsin Vocal Jazz Institute from 2010 -15. In addition, he has also served as the WCDA State Men’s Choir Repertoire and Standards Chair from 2012 -16 and presently serves as Wisconsin’s Repertoire Standards Chair for Contemporary Commercial Music. Dennis is an active clinician for groups around the nation.
CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE
GENERAL MUSIC INSTRUCTION
Elementary Music Teacher, Green Tree Elementary School, West Bend
For the past 39 years, National Board Certified-teacher Karen Wysocky has taught music education to students from kindergarten through college. After retiring from teaching in 2016, she directed the women’s and advanced women’s choirs at UW–Milwaukee and provided choral support at the intermediate/middle schools in West Bend. In 2020, she came full circle and started teaching K-4 Elementary Music at Green Tree Elementary School in West Bend, where she currently is employed. Since COVID, she has rebuilt the choir program and students are once again discovering the joy of making music together.
Wysocky started her career in 1984, teaching General Music and Choir at Ozaukee Middle and High Schools. In 1986, she began a 30-year career teaching choral music at West Bend East/West Bend West High Schools. While there, her program experienced tremendous growth in numbers as well as program offerings. Her choirs have consistently received superior ratings at Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA) festivals and performed at the WSMA State Convention, the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Northwest Regional Convention and Sweet Adelines Midwest Harmony Region 3 conventions. In 2018, her choirs won the Sweepstakes Award at the Heritage Festival in St. Louis. In 2019, they performed at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Andre Thomas.
Wysocky has presented at the WSMA conventions and received the Music Educators National Conference Sweet Adelines Award for teaching excellence and exceptional contributions to promoting the barbershop style of singing in schools. She was also awarded the Rolf’s Teacher of the Year in 2015.
She received a bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music education from UW-Milwaukee and a master of music degree in Piano Pedagogy from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She has taught piano and voice lessons, directed the Crosstown Harmony Chorus in Milwaukee, served as a clinician for the AWAKE Festival in Manitowoc, is a master adjudicator for the WSMA Solo & Ensemble festivals, and is active in her church as a cantor and accompanist.
CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE
STUDIO MUSIC INSTRUCTION
Cello instructor, Waukesha County Conservatory of Music
Lindsay Patterson earned her master’s degree from UW-Milwaukee in Cello Pedagogy. She completed her bachelor’s degree in music also from UW-Milwaukee studying performance under Stefan Kartman, and Cello Pedagogy under Scott Cook. Her first two years of undergraduate were completed at Carthage College where she studied under Herine Koschak of Fifth House Ensemble of Chicago. She has also received Suzuki Certification through Cello Books One, Two, and Three from the Chicago Suzuki Institute with Barbara Wampner and Books Four through Eight with Avi Friedlander.
Lindsay has performed in world premieres of works by Christopher Tin, “Calling All Dawns”, and “The Drop that Contained the Sea” from the Video Games Live Tour. She is principal cellist with the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra where she's been a member since 2012 and is an active chamber musician in the Sheboygan Symphony String Quartet and the Lakefront Quartet. Lindsay is an active symphony musician, regularly performing with the Wisconsin Philharmonic and Racine Symphony Orchestra. In the fall of 2022, she performed Gabriel Fauré’s Elegie with her alma mater ensemble, the Sheboygan Symphony Youth Orchestra. She has performed in several masterclasses, including those by Christopher Rex, principal cellist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Adrien Zitoun, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra cellist, Boris Andrianov, Russian cellist and professor of Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and the Daedalus String Quartet. She has performed on stage with nationally recognized artists including the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Michael Bublé.
Lindsay worked with the String Academy of Wisconsin while earning her master’s degree, teaching and assisting in private lessons and group classes with cello players of all ages. She taught cello fundamental techniques to undergraduates at UW-Milwaukee in the spring 2016 semester and was the interim cello teacher for the UW-Milwaukee String Academy for the 2016 summer session.
She currently teaches 37 private students in her studio, Lindsay Marie Cello Studios, located at the Waukesha County Conservatory of Music since 2014. She uses the Suzuki teaching methods as well as supplemental materials to create a firm technique base and to develop musicality. Her students come from all over the Lake Country area, from kindergarten through retirees. They perform in all levels of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, WSMA, WSMA Honors, are leaders in their school ensembles, and focused pre-collegiate studies.
EMERGING MUSIC EDUCATOR
Victor Montañez Cruz
General Music Teacher, Luther Burbank School, Milwaukee Public Schools
Victor Gabriel Montañez Cruz was born in the beautiful town of Caguas, Puerto Rico in 1998. He began his schooling on the island while developing his love for music from an early age. Whether singing in church or participating in the traditional bomba dance in school, his passion for music flourished in different ways. At the age of 6, Victor moved with his family to Milwaukee, where he began learning saxophone, and clarinet shortly thereafter. When he commenced middle school, Victor decided to also take on the violin, but it wasn’t until high school at Ronald Reagan High School that he discovered his passion for singing. Playing roles such as Nicely Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls, Barnaby Tucker in Hello Dolly, and Joseph from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, he began developing his tenor singing skills. Victor graduated from Reagan in 2016 and went on to Lawrence University to continue refining his singing skills while obtaining a Music Education degree. At Lawrence, Victor challenged himself musically and vocally taking unique and contrasting roles such as Geraldo in Gianni Schicchi, the Preacher from Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro, among others. Currently, Victor teaches K-8 General Music in Milwaukee Public Schools as he shares his love and passion for music where it truly all began. He is also a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus.