TAA Administrative Council
Madeline Bridges is professor of music in the School of Music at Belmont University, where she teaches music education and serves as director of the Nashville Children’s Choir program. Her degrees include a B.M. in piano performance from Shorter College in Rome, Georgia; an M. Mus. Ed. from George Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University; and an Ed.D. in music education from the University of Alabama. Bridges has taught music and music education in classrooms from kindergarten through the graduate level and is past president of both the Tennessee Music Educators Association and the International Board of Directors of Choristers Guild. She is a member of the Tennessee Music Education Association Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tennessee Chapter of American Choral Directors Association. For fifteen years, Bridges served as associate dean for academic studies of the Belmont School of Music.
E. Frank Bluestein
Managing Director/Theatre Director
E. Frank Bluestein is the 1996-1997 Disney National Performing Arts Teacher of the Year and the 1994 Tennessee Teacher of the Year. USA Today named Bluestein as one of the top forty teachers in the United States in 1998. Up until his recent retirement, he served as chairman of the Germantown High School Fine Arts Department and as executive producer for the school’s three-million-dollar, Emmy Award-winning television studio. Bluestein is a past winner of the American Theatre Association’s John C. Barner Award and has served as an arts advisory panelist for numerous organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts and the Tennessee Arts Commission. He spent several years as director of shows at Opryland, USA, and most recently wrote and directed the national touring production of Beale Street Saturday Night starring blues legend Joyce Cobb. In 2013, Bluestein was inducted into the Educational Theatre Association’s Hall of Fame in Minneapolis.
Connie Marley is retired after teaching twenty years at Freedom Middle School in Franklin, Tennessee. During her successful tenure at the school, her choirs consistently won superior ratings at local and state choral festivals. Each year, her students were well represented in honor choirs at the local, regional, and national levels as well. Prior to her time in Franklin, Marley held teaching positions in Georgia, Texas and the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Marley is also a past president of the Middle Tennessee Vocal Association and has served the organization in several other capacities. Currently, she is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association and also sings with the Nashville Chamber Singers.
Visual Art Director
Libby Lynch is the upper school visual art instructor and art department chair at University School of Jackson in Jackson, Tennessee. She started her career in art education with the Shelby County School System after receiving degrees from Union University, the University of Memphis, and the Memphis College of Art. She became a member of the Tennessee Art Education Association in 1991 and has served in various leadership positions in the organization in an effort to ensure that as many children as possible have access to quality art instruction. In 2004, she was named Educator of the Year by the Tennessee Art Education Association and Sponsor of the Year by the National Art Honor Society. In addition to her educational and leadership roles, Lynch is also a jewelry designer who explores a variety of media and regularly exhibits her work in shows and competitions throughout the nation.
Arts Leadership and Administration Director
Amanda Galbraith is an art educator with the Bartlett City Schools in Tennessee. In 2017–2018, she was an educator fellow with the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, a Tennessee-based nonprofit
education research institution. Her students have consistently received recognition and awards, and many have gone on to successfully pursue further studies in the arts. Galbraith has served on the Tennessee Department of Education’s subject matter expert committee, two standards revision committees, a textbook and instructional materials advisory panel, and numerous curriculum development teams. She’s received the Tennessee Art Education Association’s West Tennessee Art Educator of the Year award two times—in 2011 and 2013. She currently serves as secretary of the Bartlett Arts Council and is a frequent presenter at local, state, and national conferences.
Before her retirement in May of 2008, Susan Ramsay was a music specialist at Franklin Elementary School in the Franklin Special Schools District and was named Teacher of the Year for that system. She has received National Board Certification in Music and holds degrees from Peabody College and Middle Tennessee State University. Ramsay is past president of the Middle Tennessee Orff-Schulwerk Association and the Middle Tennessee Elementary Music Educators Association and has served as regional representative on the National Board of Trustees for AOSA. She has presented at Orff and Kodaly national conferences and for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). She serves as an adjunct professor at several colleges and universities and maintains an active schedule of performances as a storyteller and as a musician.
Founder and Dean Emeritus
Joe W. Giles
Joe Giles is founder of the Tennessee Arts Academy and former director of the Arts Education Program of the Tennessee Department of Education. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in music education from Austin Peay State University and has done additional study at Peabody College, Middle Tennessee State University, and Fisk University. Mr. Giles is past president of the Southern Division of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and of the National Council of State Supervisors of Music. He taught music in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools for twenty-two years, has taken choral groups on concert tours in Europe, and has received gold and silver medals in international music festivals.
TAA Office Staff
Melody Hart earned a bachelor of music degree in bassoon performance from Ball State University in Indiana. After graduation she moved to Nashville and worked for Badger-Bogle, Architects as executive assistant and bookkeeper from 1993 to 1998. She then began working with her husband, photographer Scott Schrecker, as office manager and bookkeeper. Hart also played bassoon for the Belmont University orchestra for several years and currently subs for them and other Nashville area orchestras on occasion. She plays bassoon with First Baptist Nashville’s sanctuary orchestra, teaches private bassoon lessons in her spare time, and enjoys performing duets with her daughter Sammy, who is a harpist. Hart also enjoys teaching the arts to her son Scotty.
TAA Support Specialist
Born and raised in Texas, Laura Webb recently relocated to Nashville from Boston to continue pursuing her passions for singing and design. A graduate of the University of North Texas and the Boston Conservatory, Webb is an accomplished vocalist in both classical and contemporary genres who has worked primarily as a classical soloist, choral artist, contemporary studio musician, and worship leader. She has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood Festival Chorus, where she made her solo debut in 2016 under the baton of Andris Nelsons. She is currently the alto section leader and soloist at the West End United Methodist Church in Nashville. As a designer, administrative assistant, and marketing communications professional, Laura has worked for Harvard Law School, Mass General Cancer Center, and Trinity Church in the City of Boston. Currently, in addition to her work with the TAA, she runs a small graphic and web design studio from her home.
Mary Godwin earned a bachelor degree in psychology from Oklahoma State University and a master degree in guidance counseling from the Ohio State University. She has lived in Nashville since 1973, when her husband Paul joined the music faculty of Belmont University. Godwin was employed full time at Belmont from 1997 until 2013. Prior to 1997, she worked for the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, United Methodist Communications, and Vanderbilt University. In addition to her work with the Tennessee Arts Academy, Godwin is the Belmont Road Scholar Coordinator. In this capacity, she plans and executes programs that offer Nashville-based adventures to seniors.
TAA Support Staff
Elaine Bailey-Fryd, Special Events Coordinator
Gina Miller, Travel Coordinator
Pollyanna Parker, Communications Coordinator
Drew Patterson, Social Media, Inventory and App Coordinator
Charles Businaro, Visual Enhancement Coordinator
Daniel Poston, Equipment Coordinator
Andrea Hittle, Transportation Coordinator
David Bridges, Transportation Assistant
Nathan Babian, Webmaster
Will Berger, Academy Accompanist
Gail Merritt Congdon, Office Volunteer
Scott Schrecker, TAA Photographer
Chell Parkins, Dance and Movement Consultant
Special thanks to Katie Mitchell for her assistance in coordinating the TAA visual art exhibitions.
Arts Leadership, Administration, and Assessment
Gail Merritt Congdon