About the Instructors/Admin

About Ms. Benson

Ms. Benson is thrilled to be a part of the MVEIM program this year!  With 20 years of private studio teaching experience, she specializes in all skill levels and ages.  Ms. Benson grew up in Sandy, Utah, where she began taking Suzuki violin lessons at age 6.  She went on to study music at Brigham Young University, where she holds a Bachelor's Degree in Violin Performance and Pedagogy, and a Master's Degree in Violin Performance.

Ms. Benson has performed as a soloist, concertmaster and chamber musician through the United States and Europe, and currently enjoys performing as the Assistant Concertmaster with the Lone Tree Symphony.  Ms. Benson lives in Castle Pines with her her husband and 3 children.

Together they enjoy traveling, camping, hiking, snow skiing, and Marvel movie marathons.

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About Ms. Davidson-Stanfill

Ms. Davidson-Stanfill is a veteran teacher with an expertise in beginning instrumental instruction.  She has been teaching for over 25 years in various combinations of subjects, always including beginning instrumental instruction.  Ms. Davidson-Stanfill started this program, originally in the Rock Canyon feeder area eleven years ago, in response to District budget cuts and in response to many people requesting that a band and orchestra program continue.  Her program grew to include the Castle View and Chaparral feeder areas ten years ago, won the Macaroni Kids Best Music Lessons Award in 2014, expanded to include the Ponderosa, ThunderRidge and Mountain Vista areas six years ago, and won the Macaroni Kids Best Music Lessons Award in 2016.  She is excited to continue her collaboration with the Colorado Chamber Orchestra and to bring a quality program into the Mountain Vista feeder area again this year.  Keeping the opportunity to play an instrument available to our kids is her top priority.

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About Mr. Engel
Mr. Engel is excited to teach at Northridge Elementary!  He has been a teacher and performer in the Denver and surrounding areas for 5 years.  Mr. Engel earned his Bachelor Degrees in Cello Performance and Music Theory/Composition in 2014 from Jacksonville University and his Master's Degree in Cello Performance in 2018 from Denver University.  Mr. Engel has extensively studied various musical disciplines, spanning Western Classical to Southeast Asian pedagogies, and recently completed a performing tour of Bali, Indonesia.  He looks forward to serving the students and families of Douglas County through Northridge Elementary.

About Mr. Forlenza-Bailey
Mr. Forlenza-Bailey is honored and excited for the upcoming school year at the Platte River Academy!  His passion for music stemmed at the early age of six, learning piano, and his teaching career started at age thirteen, teaching private lessons.  Whether it's been in schools giving masterclasses, clinics, or workshops to band and orchestra students, or just teaching students privately in a music studio, Mr. Forlenza-Bailey offers a gratifying experience learning music.  Although this is his first year with MVEIM, he's been teaching at programs and studios across the country for thirteen years.

Mr. Forlenza-Bailey received his Bachelor's Degree in Music Performance at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he taught and tutored low brass at the Shipley School, among many other music studios in the greater Philadelphia area.  After six years of living, performing, and teaching in the area, he relocated to Denver. Upon graduation this year with his Master's Degree in Music Performance, Mr. Forlenza-Bailey is continuing to expand his studio, teaching responsibilities and performance repertoire in the Front Range of Colorado.

About Ms. Grachek
Ms. Grachek is the Music Teacher at Trailblazer Elementary, and recently graduated with her Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Florida State University.  Ms. Grachek understands the impact an engaging music program has on the development of a well-rounded individual.  She wishes to share the supportive environment she was fortunate enough to have through music with a new generation of students!

About Mr. Hamaker
Mr. Hamaker is a retired Douglas County Schools music teacher with over thirty years of experience teaching Band and Orchestra to young musicians.  He is married with two grown sons and a granddaughter!  His wife teaches private piano in their own home.  Mr. Hamaker plays the French horn in the Lone Tree Symphony, the Denver Concert Band, and two woodwind quintets: the Mountain Winds Quintet and Venteaux.  He also performs with his wife playing piano.  Mr. Hamaker loves the outdoors, especially while hiking, camping, running and bicycle riding!  Mr Hamaker is committed to seeing the excellent elementary band and orchestra program in Douglas County continue to thrive and grow!  "Music is an important element in our lives.  Developing young minds can benefit fro all the positive attributes that are nurtured through playing a musical instrument."

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About Ms. McGonagle
Ms. McGonagle is excited to be back for her second year with the MVEIM team and provide Northridge students with an opportunity to participate in band.  She retired in May, 2018, after teaching band/orchestra and music at Northridge for 29 years.  She has a Bachelor of Music Education degree and a Masters in Education from the University of Denver.  When she is not teaching music, Ms. McGonagle enjoys playing Oboe and English Horn with the Arapahoe Philharmonic, taking her golden retriever, Finley, for walks, and camping and fishing with her husband (and Finley, of course!).

About Mr. Shugert
Mr. Shugert is a musician and teacher with a varied range of training and experiences.  He has a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the College of Wooser and a Master of Music Education degree from U.N.C.  Mr. Shugert is also a graduate of Musician's Institue (GIT) and is Orff Certified.  He recently retired from being the Music Teacher at Sand Creek Elementary School in Doulgas County since 1988.  In addition to teaching general music to all students at Sand Creek, he has successfully created and implemented many extracurricular activities such as a band and orchestra, choir, piano class, and several rock bands.  For more than 35 years, Mr. Shugert has taught private guitar and bass lessons.  Mr. Shugert has an extensive resume of playing bass and guitar in a variety of settings including the Araraphoe Philharmonic, Moments Notice Entertainment, Cedar Point Amusement Park and various rock, jazz, church and bluegrass bands.

About Mr. Stroman

Mr. Stroman is excited to be a part of the MVEIM program!  A second-generation Colorado native, Mr. Stroman received his Bachelor and Master of Music Education degrees from the University of Northern Colorado.  He taught middle and high school band and orchestra in the Douglas County school district for thirty years.

Mr. Stroman is a multiple recipient of the Who’s Who Among American Teachers award and was a finalist for the 2010 Apple Award for Excellence In Teaching.  When he’s not working with the GREATEST beginning band and orchestra students in the world and their teachers, he enjoys playing his trumpet, gardening and traveling with his wife.

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About Ms. Wessel

Ms. Wessel began her music career as a tot, and from there...she took music lessons in piano and voice and got involved in theater.  She graduated from CSU in 2003 with a Music Education degree.  Ms. Wessel was the general music teacher at Trailblazer from 2004 - 2016, and currently still teaches band before school and private piano and voice lessons after school out of her home.  She also directs camps and classes through Inspire Creative at the PACE Center.  She still proudly participates in community theater all over Denver, and is a proud wife to Matt and happy Momma to Lydia, Wyatt, and Daphne.

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About Ms. Wurst

Ms. Wurst is very excited to work with the band students at Copper Mesa and Heritage Elementary.  She received her Bachelors in Music Education from the University of Northern Colorado and her Orff Certification from Northern Arizona University.  Ms. Wurst taught music, band, and choir for over 30 years at Northeast Elementary in Parker.

When Ms. Wurst is not working with elementary musicians, she enjoys spending time with her husband Mark and traveling to visit their adult children Ryan, Chris, and his wife Leah.

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