Mrs. Booth is a licensed educator with fifteen consecutive years of classroom experience, and over twenty-six years of performance experience. She is a National Board Certified Orchestra teacher, holds an advanced degree in Educational Leadership, and a Master’s Degree in Music Education with a concentration in String Pedagogy from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While attending UNC-Greensboro, Mrs. Booth studied cello with Alex Ezerman. Mrs. Booth received a BA in Performance with a concentration in Cello from North Carolina Central University, and studied cello with Master Cellist, Dr. Timothy Holley. She also studied cello with Jessie Suggs, Jr., Kellie Keiser, and Jennifer Wernicke.
Mrs. Booth is excited to bring her wealth of experience, knowledge, and success to the Wake Forest Community Youth Orchestra. Throughout her career she has served as String Specialist, Conductor, and Lead Teacher in charter, private, and public school settings, as well as for non-profit music organizations. Mrs. Booth is a former member of the Greensboro Philharmonia, and performed Duke Symphony Orchestra, Durham Symphony, Raleigh Symphony, and completed a mini-tour in Sydney, Australia.
Mrs. Booth has a successful history of establishing string programs and creating string orchestra curriculum for public schools and non-profit organizations. Under Mrs. Booth's leadership, all of her performing ensembles have received superior ratings in adjudicated music festivals and competitions. Mrs. Booth's accomplishments include a featured article and cover story on the 2008 edition of Opus magazine, a guest appearance on an episode of One Tree Hill, the WB network's hit television series, and a performance on Spiritual Awakenings, an inspirational television show. Mrs. Booth was interviewed by Tara Lynn, host of the WCPE Classical Radio Station, for her work with youth in the community. Mrs. Booth is also an inventor, and was awarded a patent by the USPTO for designing a music instruction apparatus for string instruments (USPTO# 20140260902).
Mrs. Booth is currently the Founder and Principal Cellist of Integrity Strings, a registered music booking agency. She is an active member of the North Carolina Music Educators Association, where she is District 3 President. She is also a member of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) and was named one of 50 Directors who Make A Difference by School Band and Orchestra Magazine. Mrs. Booth’s vision for the Wake Forest Community Youth Orchestra is for the organization to serve as an international model for excellence in orchestral training, instruction, and instrumental performance.
Tonya Suggs is an Orchestra teacher in the Wake County Public School System. Mrs. Suggs has a B.A in Business Administration and a Masters in Music Education with a concentration in Suzuki String Pedagogy from East Carolina University.
Ms. Suggs is a member of the North Carolina Music Educators Association and American String Teachers Association. Throughout her career, she has served as a string coach for the Raleigh Children’s Orchestra in Raleigh, NC, and the artistic director and conductor for a non-profit music organization.
She is an active member of the Durham Symphony, and has performed with the Raleigh Symphony and Carolina Cool Jazz Orchestra. Ms. Suggs is excited to serve as the Adagio String Ensemble Conductor and Artistic Director of the Wake Forest Community Youth Orchestra.
Ardene Shafer earned a degree in music education from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Arts degree from Concordia University in River Forest, IL. She has taught music programs in public schools in Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, and Maryland for more than 30 years. In addition to her public school teaching experience, she has taught in private schools in Illinois and North Carolina. She has also taught dozens of private students in various states in which she has lived during the past 30 years. She is currently working for the Wake Forest Community Youth Orchestra to teach students in Zebulon and Rolesville.
She has held memberships in small orchestras in Illinois, Maryland and North Carolina and was a founding member of the Prince George’s Quartet in Maryland. During the summer months in North Carolina Ms. Shafer has participated in the Masterworks Reading Orchestra in Durham, NC.
Ms. Shafer is retired from public school teaching but continues to be active with private students, the Wake Forest Youth Orchestra program, and private teaching in Fuquay-Varina. She also performs with small groups in the area and has previously been a member of the Chapel Hill Philharmonia, the Meredith Sinfonia and the Lee County Community Orchestra.
Hello my name is Ava Lockamy. I am senior at North Carolina Central University, planning to receive a bachelors degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and Management. I have been playing string instruments since the sixth grade and have continued throughout the years. Durning my senior year in high school I decided to volunteer my time to the wonderful Wake Forest Community Youth Orchestra and have not left since. It is a great opportunity to connect with others and learn through music. After college I plan to go into the music industry and receive a masters degree at the school of my choice.
Jesse L. Suggs, Jr. is a graduate of North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina. He retired in June 2000 and taught part-time in Guilford County Schools until the fall of 2003 when he returned to teaching until June of 2014. Mr. Suggs, currently teaches private lessons. As the former director of the Ben L. Smith High School Orchestra, the Jamestown Middle School and Northwest Middle Orchestras, which he founded and the Northern Guilford Middle School Orchestra, Mr. Suggs extended their musical ambassadorship over 65,892 miles including Dallas, Atlanta, New Orleans , San Antonio Texas, Bahamas, Jamaica, Hawaii, Australia and Singapore. The Smith Orchestra has the state record for the longest non-stop performance by a string orchestra (12 hours, 14 minutes and 29 seconds).
Mr. Suggs took the Northern Guilford Middle School String Orchestra consisting of 6th, 7th and 8th graders to The National Adjudicators Invitational in Richmond, Virginia in April 2014. There they performed three selections of Grade III music, over 14 minutes of music from memory. They received superior ratings from all judges. Performing from memory was a first for the festival.
Mr. Suggs has served as Assistant Conductor for the Greensboro Symphony Youth Orchestra, founder and Music Director of the Jamestown Orchestra, and Co-founder of North Carolina’s 1st Western Region Junior All-State Orchestra in 1992. He has served as Chairman and Secretary-Treasurer of the Orchestra Section and Member-at-Large of the North Carolina Music Educators Association.
Formerly Principal bassist for the Greensboro Philharmonia and the Greensboro Civic Chamber Orchestra, Mr. Suggs also played soprano, alto and tenor saxophones for the Greensboro Jazz Orchestra. Mr. Suggs is active as a clinician, adjudicator and guest conductor. Jesse Suggs was the winner of the Maxine Swalin Award for an Outstanding Music Educator for 2008. This award, sponsored by the North Carolina Symphony, is given annually to a North Carolina music teacher who:
Makes a lasting difference in the lives of students of all abilities and backgrounds Serves the community in an exemplary manner as a role model in music education Instills a love for music in children
Inspires students to reach appropriately high musical standards
With this $1,000 recognition award, the North Carolina Symphony honors Maxine Swalin who, along with her husband Dr. Benjamin Swalin and Conductor from 1939-1972, gathered funds from the General Assembly to establish the children's concert divisions in 1945. This division of the North Carolina Symphony brings live concerts throughout the year to children statewide. Jesse L. Suggs, Jr. retired for the 2nd time in June 2014 with 45 years of teaching.
Sheila Brown is the Parent Liaison for WFCYO. She has been involved with WFCYO since 2014, when her daughter began in the orchestra. Because of her love of music and desire to support the efforts of WFCYO, Ms Brown asked how she could be of help. She was able to put her administrative talents and abilities to work and began assisting Ms Booth with sending emails to parents, organizing snacks and coordinating the concert receptions. She also assists her husband with the WFCYO website. Ms. Brown believes music is an integral part of a person’s development and feels playing an instrument as a child has tremendous benefits and can open many doors for the student.
Ms. Brown’s biggest regret is that she does not currently play an instrument. As a child Ms Brown has played the piano, violin, clarinet and guitar but did not stick with any of these instruments. She is determined to start playing again as a testimony to others who desire to learn to play an instrument later in life. Ms Brown works in the Learning & Development industry as a Training Manager and has recently obtained her Master’s degree from North Carolina Central University, her alma mater.
Director of Fine Arts and Innovation, Vance County Schools
Andrew Markoch brings a wealth of experience in educational leadership and youth development to the Wake Forest Community Youth Orchestra Board of Directors. Andrew Markoch is the Director of Fine Arts and Innovation for Vance County Schools. He previously served as the principal at Northern Vance High School. Markoch joined Vance County Schools after serving as an assistant principal at Wake Forest High School in Wake Forest. He was the principal of the school’s Ninth Grade Center and served as an administrator at Wake Forest High School since July of 2003.
Mr. Markoch is a graduate of the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. He received a bachelor’s degree in music education from the university in 1988. He also earned a Master of Arts degree in educational administration from Akron in 2001. In May of 2003, Markoch completed course work for principal licensure, with a focus on curriculum, at the University of Akron.During his time with the Wake County Public School System in Wake Forest, Mr. Markoch had extensive experience in management and school leadership. He facilitated the academic growth of a comprehensive high school in Wake Forest focusing on the instructional and social development of students as they adjust from middle school to high school. From 2007 to 2011, he worked with educators in the Ninth Grade Center as its on-site principal and was responsible for implementing the vision and operation of the center from its origins as an academy to a full-fledged school operating as part of a comprehensive high school. Mr. Markoch then worked with faculty leaders to plan and facilitate the center’s move from an off-site location to become an on-site program serving ninth graders at the high school. The Ninth Grade Center continues today as an on-site facility. In his capacity as principal of the Ninth Grade Center, Markoch encouraged a school culture that was achievement based, student centered and data driven, while parents and stakeholders were welcomed as an integral part of the school environment.
Gray Shelton has been involved with the Wake Forest Community Youth Orchestra for many years as a parent. She joined the board in 2019. Gray is passionate about making sure music education is available to all children.
“I was fortunate that someone generously paid for my piano lessons when I was five. This started a lifetime love of music and art that has continued into my adult years. I feel strongly that music education teaches more than just notes on a staff. Perseverence, community, and critical thinking are just a few things that kids learn from participating in group and individual music education.”
Gray is a graduate of East Carolina University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Interior Design and a minor in Business. Music has been a big part of her life. She currently works as a construction project manager and interior design for a local construction company.
Scott Brazil is husband to Elaine and father of eight musical children – the youngest two of whom currently play in the WFCYO. He is enrolled in the PhD program at Southeastern Seminary and works on campus as the inter-library loan assistant. He moved to Wake Forest from La Grande, Oregon, where he pastored a church for fourteen years. Scott has seen first-hand the positive impact instrumental music has made in his own children and wishes to support musical prospects for all young people. He believes that the WFCYO provides a unique and valuable opportunity for any-aged student to enjoy the gift of music, to encourage creative learning, and to experience the cooperation and comradery found in something bigger than themselves. If he were king, he would require music lessons for all K-12 students.
Elaine Brazil is wife to Scott and mother of eight beautiful children. She holds a teaching credential in elementary education from Humboldt State University in California. She first taught in the public schools, and then homeschooled her children for many years. She is currently employed in restaurant and retail businesses. When she moved to Wake Forest in 2015, she immediately searched for a local music community and was thrilled to find the WFCYO, in which her children have participated for the past four years. She knows well the realities of great sacrifice and investment in order to provide music opportunities for children. She believes it is important that all young people be given the chance to share music with the larger community, and is glad to support the quality, affordable music opportunities found with the WFCYO.