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Faculty and Staff


James Lavender

Founder of The Arts School

James has been a worship leader and professional musician for more than ten years having served in several churches throughout Texas. As a worship leader, James has also had the privilege of serving as worship leader at several state and regional conferences and has lead worship with several of christian music's national recording artists.

Among his professional credits are Faure's Requiem at Carnegie Hall, New York, Broadway Series cast member of Roger and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma" and Broadway Series cast member of Lionel Bart's "Oliver." James is also a developing songwriter and just received his first songwriting credit for his worship song "We Fall" on The SongWriter's Cafe Collective, Vol. 2.


Marci Dittmer

Director of The Arts School

Although a piano student and tap dancer, Marci considered education, rather than the arts, to be her calling. She received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education. Following five years of teaching at Prince of Peace Christian School, Marci chose to stay at home with her newborn, Melanie, and later her second daughter, Emily. While raising and homeschooling her two girls, Marci instilled her passion for the arts in their hearts as they were active in music lessons and dance.

Following a few years as Director of Communications at Dance Institute of Dallas, Marci accepted the position as Associate Director of The Arts School at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. In 2014, The Arts School moved under the umbrella of Prince of Peace Christian School, and Marci accepted the role of director. In addition to this role, she has a full-time private tutoring business and tutors forty or more students per week.


Jami Calatozzo

Voice and Drama

Jami Calatozzo received her Bachelor of Music from Belhaven College in Piano Performance. She then went on to Southern Methodist University to earn a Masters of Music in Vocal Coaching and Accompanying. She has been working professionally in the Dallas area for over twenty years as a musical director, pianist, accompanist, teacher and vocal coach.She performed in the Young Audiences of Greater Dallas productions of “Opera Through the Ages” and “Opera in the Making” for ten years. During that time she helped to create and perform new opera productions for the Richardson and Mesquite School Districts which were performed at the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center. Jami has worked for the Dallas Theatre Center, Plano Children’s Theatre, Bel Canto Studios, and many area schools as a musical director and vocal coach. Jami has been at Prince of Peace Christian School as the middle and high school choir director and performing arts musical director for over ten years. She directs the Half Notes Choir for grades 1-3 as well as the POP Players- Children's Theatre classes for grades K-5.


Barbara Couser

Group Piano

Barbara has been playing the piano since she was six years old. She studied piano at the Institute of Music in St. Louis, MO. In middle school and high school, she was the accompanist for all the choirs at her schools. She received her degree from Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, IL where she majored in Music Education.

Barbara has taught piano lessons for over twenty years. During that time, she was also the Assistant Director of Music (six years) and Director of Music (two years) at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in West Dundee, IL, Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Dallas, TX, (five years) and Crown of Life Lutheran Church in Colleyville, TX (fifteen years). She has worked with children, teenagers, and adults in choirs, praise teams, solo and instrumental ensembles, and musicals.

Barbara enjoys spending time with her husband, three children and their spouses, and her four grandsons.


Carla Cox

Piano

Carla Cox brings more than 36 years of piano and voice instruction to The Arts School team having taught students from as young as pre-school to adults. In addition to her teaching, she has also served as President of both the Carrollton and Plano Music Teachers Association. She has directed children's choirs, a Senior. Adult Choir and the Hand Bell Choir at her church.

Carla is a graduate of The University of Texas at Dallas where she graduated Cum Laud. She especially enjoys teaching children and finds their desire to learn inspiring. She also enjoys sharing her love for the Lord with children and enjoys serving in global missions.


Joel Dittmer

Guitar

Joel Dittmer is the beginning guitar teacher at the Arts School. He has played the guitar since high school and has taught guitar lessons to students of all ages for over fifteen years. Joel has an elementary education degree and a master’s degree in educational administration. He taught at Prince of Peace Christian School for twelve years and led the student ministry before moving to the Information Technology field. He currently serves as IT Director for Prince of Peace.

One of Joel’s desires for beginning guitar students is to create an encouraging environment that fosters a love for music and correct basic skills. He has the patience to work with the most basic students, and he always incorporates proper technique and beginning music theory. He integrates a variety of music styles and encourages students to recommend music that they enjoy so that it can be included in the program.

Joel's background in guitar centers on his involvement with leading worship for children and youth groups. He loves to include worship and praise music in his lessons and has a special emphasis on leading group singing. It is a special joy for him to develop guitar players who can use their skills in ministry to others. Though his day-to-day job at Prince of Peace involves supporting the technology program, you can still find him around campus leading singing for a chapel service or VBS program.

Joel is a proud father of two girls and loves his Arts School boss! (His wife, Marci, serves as the Director of the Arts School.) In his spare time, Joel enjoys running, sports, music, and anything technology related.


Kim Doreck

Piano

Kimberly Doreck earned her bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Philadelphia College of Bible and her master’s degree in Piano Pedagogy and Performance from Baylor University. Kim has teaching experience in the studio and classroom, as well as individual and group instruction settings. Kim has had the privilege of teaching private piano instruction to both children and adults.

Kim has been a member of the Carrollton Music Teachers Association (CMTA) since 2000. During this time she has had the opportunity to serve in many capacities including Secretary, President, Immediate Past President, Theory Co-chair, and Yearbook Chair. Many of her students participate and perform in the local events offered through CMTA. During her membership with CMTA, Kim has been bestowed the honor of “Teacher of the Year” twice for the years 2005-2006 and 2009-2010.

Kim has had many opportunities to use her talents in other areas locally as well. She has accompanied instrumental students who perform for the annual UIL Solo and Ensemble contests. She has accompanied vocal soloists for local junior colleges in the area. Kim has had the privilege to direct and co-direct the children’s choir (grades 3rd-5th) at her local church, First Baptist in Carrollton.


Beverly Heather

Piano

Beverly Heather holds Master of Arts and Bachelor of Music Education degrees from Truman State University in Kirksville , Missouri . Having taught public school music for ten years and private music lessons for over thirty-five years, she taught piano, voice and flute in Jefferson City , Missouri over 15 years. Beverly began teaching in the Dallas, TX Metroplex on June 1, 2008 . Her students frequently earn the top ratings in State music festivals. She is proud to have coached some of the best voices the Jefferson City community has had to offer, into leading and supporting roles for local theatre events. Beverly’s credits include conducting “My Fair Lady,” “Brigadoon,” and “Bat Boy” for The Little Theatre of Jefferson City (www.tltjc.org), and playing flute/piccolo in many productions, including Fiddler on the Roof, Annie, The Secret Garden, and Two by Two. She also served as Musical Director for Scene One’s production of “The Rocky Horror Show.” Beverly played flute with the Jefferson City Symphony for 15 years, and served on the staff of the Jefferson City Cantorum, a premiere select choral group. Beverly enjoys spare time with her husband, Kevin, step-sons Andrew and Matthew, nieces and nephew, collecting antiques and playing with her puppy dogs, Judy, Dani and Gidget.


David Lang

Trumpet

David Lang joined Prince of Peace in the fall of 2003, to provide computer science instruction in the newly formed high school. In 2007, Mr. Lang took over the instrumental music program and now oversees four band ensembles for 5th through 12th grades.

Mr. Lang has been involved in lay mission projects in Honduras, Mexico and India, both preaching and playing music. Mr. Lang was involved in the ministry of the Greater Fort Worth Christmas Pageant for twenty years as an actor, vocalist and instrumentalist. He serves as lead trumpet player in the orchestra at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Carrollton and also teaches private trumpet at The Arts School.

Mr. Lang graduated from North Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Computer Information Systems; he also has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. Mr. Lang has completed the teacher colloquy with Concordia University Austin, and was called by Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and Christian School as a commissioned minister of religion in 2012.

Mr. Lang has been married to his wife Ruth for twenty-six years and has two children, Christina and Matthew.


Eugene LeBeaux Rueff

Low Brass

Eugene LeBeaux has been working professionally as a Musician, Arranger, Composer and teacher for many years and re-located to the Dallas area from Los Angeles. He is an excellent private teacher in all brass instruments for students of all ages. LeBeaux teaches Trombone, Tuba, Euphonium, Trumpet and Tuba.

LeBeaux’s illustrious resume gigs include: The Benny Goodman Tribute Orchestra, The Dukes of Dixieland, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Joe Darensburg, Grover Washington Jr., Bonnie Raitt, John Fogerty, Tower of Power, Steven Stills, Kenny Rogers, Sammy Davis Jr. the Spike Jones' Review and more during his two decades with Los Angeles as his home. His on-screen credits include: "The Frank Sinatra Story" CBS movie, "The Deep End" ABC series, and Hollywood films "Tap" with Gregory Hines and "Police Academy 6". Radio airplay of his original compositions have made him a long-standing member of ASCAP and have taken him world-wide to the concert venues of New York, Boston, Santa Monica, New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego, Los Vegas, Denver, Dallas, Honolulu and abroad: Paris, Rome, Munich, Florence, Vancouver, and Moscow.

LeBeaux worked for ten years as Musical Director for American Hawaii Cruises. During this stint, he had complete responsibility for all arrangements, original material, conducting and rehearsing the name acts and New York shows performed on board the cruise line. He was educated at the University of Denver Lamont School of Music, Berkley School of Music in Boston and the noted Dick Grove School of Music in Studio City, CA.

LeBeaux is an accomplished composer and arranger of note with his album originals and arrangements having been performed by the Denver Symphony, the Queen City Jazz Band, the Whiskey River Band, Los Angeles Sass Band, NBC's People's Choice Awards, L.A. Share Show. His studio work on commercials and films include the Sunset Boulevard Studio, Sunburst Studio, Western Studio, RCA Studio, That Studio, Salty Dog Studio, Capitol and numerous network sound stages. Each year he returns to his hometown of Denver to perform for the Evergreen Jazz Festival with The Bob Cooke Celebration Band and at the icon Jazz Club, "Bull and Bush" where he launched his career. Though he calls Denver home, there is no denying that his playing style and family roots go back to New Orleans.

Now making his home in Dallas, he composes, plays, tours and teaches with his wife, Gleni Tai, (world renowned commercial jingle singer and pro-pianist) by his side.


Samantha Lee

Voice and Piano

Eunkyung (Samantha) Lee was born and grew up in Seoul, South Korea. She attended the Kaywon Art high school, one of the most prestigious art/performance schools in South Korea. While she was in high school, she competed in many local and national voice competitions and won many awards. She received her bachelor’s degree in voice performance from Hanyang University in Seoul.

Eunkyung’s interests in voice and music were influenced by her mother, who studied voice performance. Also, Eunkyung's older sister studied the piano. In Korea, Eunkyung and her sister owned and managed a music academy, and she taught private and group vocal lessons to students. Eunkyung decided it was time for a change of scenery and wanted to pursue her dreams. Thus, Eunkyung earned her master’s degree in voice performance from University of North Texas in 2012; she is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in voice perfomance at UNT.

Eunkyung is active as a soloist at Aldersgate Church in Carrollton and the Killeen Korean choir. She plans to teach at a Korean music academy this summer.


James Moore

Piano

Pianist, composer, arranger and saxophonist James Moore began his musical training at age nine and by the age of 11 was composing and arranging for ensembles as large as 15 pieces. As a scholarship recipient at the famed Berklee School of Music he studied composition with John Laporta and his original music was performed under the direction of Herb Pomeroi. Later, while attending the University of North Texas his compositions were recorded and performed internationally by the renowned One O’clock Jazz Band of which he was later a member.

While living and performing regularly in New Orleans with his all-star group, The Urbanites, James was fortunate to have studied piano privately with the great Ellis Marsalis and also with John Murphy of Loyola University. During his years living in New York City he studied with the great Larry Goldings.

Today James draws on years of experience working with some of the greatest names in the world of entertainment. Luminaries such as Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Darin, Doc Severinsen, Al Hirt, Allen Toussaint, Professor Longhair and Eddy Harris are among only a few of the many artists he has had the pleasure of performing and recording with.

Those who choose to study Piano, Theory, Arranging, Composition or Improvisation with James will reap the benefits of this experience. They will also have the benefit of his more than 10 years of experience as a private instructor and can be assured their personal learning needs and interests will be the focus of the lessons.


Katie Seale

Flute

Katie Couser Seale attended Texas Christian University where she received a bachelor’s degree in music education. During her time at TCU she studied flute under Helen Blackburn and was a member of the TCU Horned Frog marching band and TCU symphonic band, as well as a member of Pi Kappa Lambda.

Katie went on to receive her master’s degree in worship leadership from Dallas Baptist University. During her time attending DBU, she directed the middle school band at Crown of Life Lutheran School and taught private lessons there as well as at Lutheran High School (now Dallas Lutheran) and Holy Cross Lutheran. In September of 2009 Katie joined the staff of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and has since served in a variety of roles there. She is currently the Director of Worship at Prince of Peace and enjoys conducting the church orchestra, vocal ensemble and handbells, as well as leading music with the worship band weekly. In her free time she enjoys traveling, quilting and spending time with her husband John and dog Toby.


Sam Swenson

Voice and Acting Coaching

Sam Swenson is a Texas native but has been living in New York City the last six years as a working actor and artist. Sam studied Musical Theatre at Pace Univeristy. The program consisted of acting techniques such as Meisner and Uta Hagen as well as extensive vocal training. Faculty at Pace included Broadway stars and vocal coaches.


David Taylor

Guitar and Bass Guitar

I was given a guitar for my 11th birthday. I would like to say that once I received it that I never stopped playing, but that would not be true. After spending the 1st five weeks on the same scale, I put my guitar down for a year until a new instructor came along. I had 3 different instructors over the next 4 years. In high school I would play guitar with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Choir. It was not until my sophomore year in college, playing for a Bible study group that I really started playing guitar and really liking it. That led to playing for campus prayer events with Campus Crusades for Christ, Inter Varsity, and four others leading up to Mandate ’87 Midwest Student Missions Conference at Ball State University. I also played in church, youth groups, and in worship teams. I have had the opportunity to play on international mission experiences, lead worship at a nationally known work camp, and lead music seminars at other events on the local, regional and national levels in The United Methodist Church. During my 27 years of youth ministry I have had the privilege of teaching guitar to some of the members of the congregations I served. Some of them still actively play at church today.

For most of the last decade I have alternated between playing electric bass and guitar for worship in local church where I have worshipped.

It is my hope to teach you the basics you need to play the style of music you want to play, so that you develop a passion for playing that will last all of your life.


Andrea Venincasa

Violin and Viola

Andrea Martinson-Venincasa has taught Suzuki violin and viola in the DFW area for ten years. She is married with four children, all of whom studied music – violin, piano, and cello. She has a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Minnesota State University – Mankato. She won the MSU Concerto Competition, held a teaching assistantship, and was awarded a four year Mankato Symphony Scholarship.

Andrea received a Master of Music in Suzuki Pedagogy from East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, North Carolina, where she studied with Joanne Bath. She was a graduate assistant for Ms. Bath during her Masters course. While pursuing her graduate studies at ECU, she received a Suzuki Association of the Americas scholarship.

Andrea was awarded a second Master of Music degree in Violin Performance by the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, CT. While at the Hartt School of Music, she studied with Brian Lewis and Linda Fiore.

In addition to the all of the violin books, Andrea has completed Suzuki coursework in group lessons, advanced group lessons, the works of Fritz Kreisler, Bach Violin Sonatas and Partitas, Bowing Technique, and child development. She has been certified in Suzuki viola books 1-6, viola book 8, and supplemental viola literature. She studied viola with Susan DuBois at University of North Texas.

Ms. Venincasa has taught at the New Ulm Suzuki School, Mankato Suzuki School, the Hartt School of Music Community Division, and the Suzuki Music Institute of Dallas. She has performed with the Mankato Symphony for eight years, as well as the St. Cloud Symphony and the Tar River (NC) Symphony.


Giovanni Washington-Wright

Clarinet, Flute, and Saxophone

A native of Rosedale, Mississippi, Giovanni began his musical career at age seven, taking piano, clarinet, and trumpet. Gio came from a musical family; his mother was a clarinetist, associate director of the church choir, and pianist while his grandmother was a 2nd grade teacher and semi-professional pianist. At age ten, Giovanni moved to Madison, Wisconsin, for a short time and then to Racine, Wisconsin. While there, his love for music exploded, and he added saxophone, flute, and composition to his musical palette. While in high school, Giovanni was a member of the All-State Jazz Ensemble (two years, lead alto) and principal saxophonist in the Greater Milwaukee Youth Wind Ensemble. At age sixteen, Giovanni began playing professionally under the tutelage of Professor Curt Hanrahan (Saxophone, University Of Wisconsin – Milwaukee) and Dr. Jack Snavely (Clarinet, University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee).

After high school, Giovanni attended the University Of Wisconsin-Madison under scholarship, where he graduated in 1993 with honors, earning degrees in psychology and English. While there, he performed as a saxophonist, horn section leader, and arranger with the Wisconsin Singers. In Madison, he also played professionally, was a member of the top jazz ensemble, and studied woodwinds and composition with Dr. Les Thimmig. After leaving Madison, Giovanni headed south to Denton to study at the University Of North Texas where he earned a degree in music in 1998. There, he studied with James Riggs and Dr. Eric Nestler and performed with the world-renowned One O'Clock and Two O'Clock Lab Bands and the Jazz Repertory Ensemble. While at North Texas, he also earned an Outstanding Soloist Award at the Wichita Jazz Festival. After Denton, Giovanni studied at Fort Hays State University where he worked on education degrees (M.Ed. and Ed.D.); he finished his studies there in 2008. Giovanni has also done post-graduate work at Columbia and Harvard Universities.

As a woodwind educator, Giovanni has served on the private lesson faculties for Carroll ISD (Southlake, TX., 1999 to present), Wylie ISD (2001 to 2007), and Ballard Street Music (Wylie, TX.). He previously served as the principal woodwind instructor at Prince of Peace in 2008, returning to the Prince Of Peace family in January, 2012.

As a performer, Giovanni has performed and/or recorded with Three Dog Night, Royal Crown Revue, Sam Moore, Red Skelton, Melton Mustafa, The Lakewood Rats, Big T And the Bada-Bings, The Bulletproof Brass, Carabali, DCF Big Band, Groove Academy, Irving Symphony Orchestra, The Dallas Jazz Orchestra, Norte De Havana, Guaramina, The Hunter Sullivan Big Band, The Cary Richards Orchestra, The Tuxedo Junction Big Band, Conundrum, The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, and many others.

Gio has also performed for these musicals: 42nd St. (principal woodwind), Ain’t Misbehavin’, A… My Name Is Alice (principal), Annie (principal), Anything Goes, Babes In Arms (principal), Bye Bye Birdie, A Chorus Line (principal), Crazy For You, Follies, Gypsy, Grease! (principal), Guys And Dolls, Hello, Dolly!, Little Shop Of Horrors, Les Miserables (principal), My Fair Lady (principal), Oliver!, West Side Story (principal). Films: Sanctioned To Die (consultant: music score, Brent Bambic, director) and Irreversible Consequences (co-composer, Addison Whitaker, director). Television Commercials: McDonald’s, Physician’s Plus, Six Flags, and Taco Bell.

As a composer and arranger, Gio’s work has been performed and/or recorded by Ricky Martin, jazz trumpeter Winston Byrd, Think Big And The Bulletproof Brass, The Tuxedo Junction Big Band (Southlake, TX.), The Luckman Jazz Orchestra (Los Angeles), The Stan Martin Big Band (Los Angeles), The Roy Gaines Big Band (Los Angeles), The Two O'Clock Lab Band, The University Of Cincinnati Jazz Ensemble, The University Of North Carolina – Greensboro Jazz Ensemble, The US Army Jazz Ambassadors, The USAF Airmen Of Note, and The US Army Blues.

Giovanni currently resides in Carrollton with his wife Kimmy, daughter Audrey, son Storm, and dog Sophie.


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