Modesto Academy of Music & Design
Meet Our Teachers

photo Pam Tallman

Group Piano & Private Piano Lessons

Pam has taught piano in her home for over 25 years. Over time, she became extremely interested in the research being conducted indicating a beneficial relationship between musical instruction in young children, and increased or enhanced brain development.  This eventually led her to open Modesto Academy of Music & Design, enabling instruction for small children in beginning music and piano. Pam is excited and proud that several of her students have excelled and received scholarships to pursue music studies at the university level. Pam has a BA in Music, and a teaching credential in Music Education and General Education. She is currently completing research for an Interdisciplinary Masters in Child Development Education & Music from California State University, Stanislaus.
Pam is a member of the Music Teacher's Association of California (MTAC) and the National Guild of Musicians.  She has been a piano adjudicator for both organizations.  Pam has served on the board for the MTAC, Stanislaus Branch and is currently the Chair for the Certificate of Merit program. Pam enjoys spending time with her family, and singing in the Celebration Choir at church. She hopes to someday be able to ring handbells again with the church handbell choir. 

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photo Larry Tallman

LEGO™ & Robotics

Larry has taught numerous science courses at the high school level for 30 years. In addition to Life Science, Chemistry, and Biology classes (including Pre-IB & AP), he has added robotics to his teaching interests and was instrumental in bringing the Space & Engineering Academy to his campus. Larry enjoys spending time with his family and dog, gardening, watching sports, working with Christian Service Brigade (similar to Boy Scout program) and teaching Sunday School at his church.

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photo Greg Heutmaker

LEGO™ & Robotics 

Greg just retired after twenty-two years as a public school teacher; twenty of those years at the middle school level. Prior to teaching he spent fifteen years in emergency medicine as an Emergency Medical Technician and a Paramedic. Greg has traveled extensively, living and working in nearly sixty countries. Some of his adventures included driving from Alaska to Panama. As a member of a four-wheel drive trans-African expedition he also traveled from England through North, West, Central, and East Africa over a five month journey.

Legos has been a continuous part of his life for the last thirty years; first with younger nephews, then his first two children, he continues his passion for Legos with his younger children and by teaching here at our academy.

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photo Madelynn Larwill

LEGO™ & Robotics

Madelynn Larwill is currently pursuing her passion of teaching elementary school at CSU Stanislaus obtaining her bachelor degrees in child development and mathematics. She taught LEGO Engineering classes for students, preschool through 5th grade, throughout the bay area and developed a love for teaching children. Madelynn lives in Ripon with her 1 year old daughter and loves to go fishing on the weekends.

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photo Evan Lung

LEGO™ & Robotics

Evan is a mathematics student at California State University Stanislaus, hoping to become a high school math teacher. Before becoming a robotics instructor, he was a merchandiser for several years, but found an opportunity here at the academy to pursue his teaching career. He was also a teacher’s assistant for the Fischertechnik classes before taking on the teaching role himself. The classes he offers provide students with skills in following visual instructions along with basic knowledge in how robots operate and are programmed. Evan enjoys teaching, reading, hiking, and spending time with friends.

 

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photo Hans Neufeld

LEGO™ & Robotics

Hans spent many an hour as a young boy building with Lego bricks. He thinks that the enjoyment he took from building and designing was a factor that led him ultimately to earn a degree in mechanical engineering. Now, after having taught classes in the physical sciences for many years, he is excited about the opportunity to share this enjoyment and his love for learning with a new generation through courses in pre-engineering and robotics at Modesto Academy of Music and Design.

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photo Joey Coray

Voice Lessons & Choral Ensemble

Joey Coray is a skilled vocalist, songwriter, and performer who studied choral arts and voice at San Jose State University, where he also earned his B.A. in music education and vocal performance. For many years he was seen performing and leading worship in the south bay, San Jose area. He spent 10 years singing with the Big Band, A Touch of Brass. They would perform for events like the San Jose Jazz Festival and large scale corporate events. For 7-8 years, Joey served as the primary voice coach at the Bethel School of Music, where he worked with young and mature voices to develop sound technique and vocal style. He is able to develop all types of singers in the music style they desire. Some of his specialties include pop, opera, gospel, jazz, contemporary Christian and show tunes. In 2014, Joey came to Modesto to join the staff at Modesto Covenant Church as the worship pastor. There, he is thrilled to be at MCC leading the worship band, choir and orchestra during weekly rehearsals and Sunday services. Joey enjoys spending time with his wife Kelsie and playing with their two dogs at the dog park
.

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photo Liisa Davila

Voice Lessons & Vocal Classes 

Soprano Liisa Dávila is a talented performer gaining recognition in California as an opera performer and concert soloist. Ms. Dávila was most recently heard in the leading role as Violetta in Townsend Opera Players production of Verdi’s La Traviata at the Gallo Center for the Arts. She is a winner of multiple vocal competitions, including recent vocal scholarships from the East Bay Opera League, Stockton Opera Guild, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. After gaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance from Sacramento State University, Ms. Dávila has trained with fine vocal programs in LA, New York, and Greece. Concert works include such highlights as Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Mozart C Minor Mass, Verdi Requiem, Brahms Requiem, and Mozart Requiem. She was heard this year singing with West Bay Opera and Townsend Opera Players in the roles of Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), and Micëla (Carmen). Other operatic roles include Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Juliette (Romeo et Juliette), Liù (Turandot), Hanna Glawari (The Merry Widow), Cendrillon (Cendrillon), and Mimi (La boheme).
An equally experienced teacher as well as performer Liisa Dávila was the assistant director for Troupe Cabana, a performing group for children, for 10 years, teaching various styles of singing and dance. Throughout her performing she has always maintained a private voice studio teaching private voice lessons. Ms. Dávila is happy to call Modesto home where she resides with her husband and three children. 

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photo Silva Kachadorian

Violin, Viola & Cello for Beginners 

Silva's interest in the violin piqued in third grade, after watching the older students' recital in elementary school. From the first day in fourth grade upon becoming eligible to learn finally, she has since consistently played for the last 17 years. Throughout middle and high school, she enjoyed participating in music festivals such as California Music Educators Association's annual orchestra festival, county and state Honor Orchestras, CMEA solo and ensemble competitions and the annual Disney Honors program in Disneyland, Southern California. Now in college and finishing her preliminary studies in music education, she has seen first hand the magic that comes to life when a person learns an instrument. Silva gained her experience as a strings teacher when she became the assistant instructor to the Beginning Strings classes held at MJC. She also helps conduct, tune and clinic with the String Orchestra class. She has experience teaching most stringed instruments including viola, cello and string bass although her forte is in violin studies. The emphasis in lessons include relaxation, proper posture and kinesthetic senses. Her future plans include a Master's in Music Education which she hopes to blend with Music Therapy techniques. Outside of her assistance to the strings program at MJC, Silva also can be found around downtown Modesto with the MJC Strings & Things, a fiddle group of past and present students, at coffee shops, festivals and the occasional impromptu concert.

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photo Marina Ortega-Madueno

Guitar & Tutoring

Marina is pursuing a music career through MJC. She has worked with children through the public library outreach programs, as well as performed with the Modesto Band and Fresno Philharmonic. For many years she has enjoyed spreading music in her church community. Her emphasis lies in teaching music theory as a basis for all musical instruments, especially in younger students. She believes everyone can be taught how to play an instrument. Additionally, has mastered mathematics up to Calculus and Number Theory.

     
photo Danelle Mascroft

Group Piano & Private Piano Lessons

Danelle has been with us for quite some time and we have enjoyed her enthusiastic spirit. She is a teacher that is committed to creating an atmosphere that is encouraging and supportive for all students. With a Bachelor of Arts in Music from California State University and also an Associate of Arts from San Joaquin Delta College, you can find Danelle teaching here at the Academy throughout the week. She is also a member of the Music Teachers Association of California and the National Guild for Piano Teachers. 

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photo Joveena Rodriguez

Group Piano & Private Piano Lessons

Jovee has been attending MJC and will be receiving her AA in music studies by next spring! She not only loves learning about music but also teaching music. Jovee loves interacting with students and teaching students to enjoy and have fun with learning how to play music. Her enjoyment also lies with being able to learn about the way the students learn and grasp concepts. Her love of teaching comes from a passion rooted in her faith in God. It is rare that she is not doing something daily that does not involve music! Her many hobbies include: participating on the worship team at church, jam sessions with her musical family, studying music as well as the Bible. Her plan is to incorporate biblical studies into music by getting involved with music ministry. 

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photo Chris Steffanic

Beginning Orchestral Instruments
Intermediate and Advanced Clarinet and Saxophone

Christopher is currently employed as a teacher for Lincoln Unified School District in Stockton, California, where he teaches classroom music and band.  He received his B.M. degree from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Pacific. His previous positions included the Diocese of Stockton, Linden Unified, and Salida Union School Districts.  Mr. Steffanic has been a clinician for California Music Educators, National Pastoral Musicians, and the UOP Conservatory Clarinet Festival, as well as serving as a mentor teacher for future music teachers studying at the UOP School of Education.  He is a member of National Association of Music Educators, California Music Educators Association, Music Teachers Association of California, and the American Federation of Musicians Local #189. As a professional musician, he has performed with the Stockton Symphony, Townsend Opera Players, Stockton Choral, Stockton Civic Theater, Merced Pops Orchestra, Modesto Performing Arts, Gold Country Orchestra, and special musical events for the Diocese of Stockton. Chamber Music is also a favorite source of music making.  Chris works with Clarinetistry, the Azul Sax Quartet, and the Pacific Avenue Clarinets, small ensembles that perform in Stockton or Modesto.  He currently plays clarinet for the Central Valley’s premier concert band- The Valley Concert Band.  He plays clarinet/saxophone for the big bands Swingaires and Knight Sounds. Chris also enjoys playing woodwind parts in musical theater! A few of his favorites are Fiddler on the Roof and Will Rodgers Follies.

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photo Cheryl Medek

Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Flute
 

Cheryl is currently employed as a music teacher at Great Valley Academy in Modesto where she teaches classroom music, ukulele, and drums classes. She received her BA in flute performance at California State University Chico, and an MA in Music Therapy from University of the Pacific. Her previous music teaching positions include elementary band and choir director at Plumfield Christian Academy, as well as private flute instruction. She has worked with beginning and intermediate flute groups through Gottschalk’s music programs. As a professional musician, Cheryl has performed with the Stockton Symphony, Townsend Opera Players, Merced Symphony, Lodi Symphony, Stockton Opera, Stockton Chorale, and Zion Chamber Orchestra. She is a member of the American Federation of Musicians, local #189. Cheryl enjoys performing flute in her church orchestra at Big Valley Grace Community Church.

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photo Amy Maris

Drama

Amy Maris brings the experience and passion of several decades of stage experience and individual music instruction to her classes at MAMD. Performing with a traveling multi-media group and onstage with Modesto Performing Arts for many years, along with the experience of seeing Shakespeare performed at The Globe in London have fueled the fire for the drama classes and reader’s theater she teaches.

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photo Jacqueline Del Curto

Art

Jacqueline attended the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, NH, and the Russian Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. After studying drawing and painting in Italy, she apprenticed with professional painter, James Gillick, in Lincolnshire, England. She believes in an individualized approach to teaching art based on a child’s particular interests and technical level. She teaches students to draw and paint from life, their imagination, and from masterworks in order to attain the skills necessary to carry on the figurative, fine art tradition.

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photo Paul McGill

Computer Graphics & Animation, Art

Paul graduated from the Art Institute of Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Animation. He currently works as a Freelance Graphic Artist. He has worked on mobile applications such as Liquidmetal Games, GRIP (iphone) and U4RYK’s Heroes of Tomorrow (android). He has also done work for Collision Studios as a Concept Artist and UI Designer. He currently does work for Diamond Game Enterprise (online gaming) and Joli Digital Studios.
Art has always been Paul’s passion since childhood. This passion veered him into Computer Graphics and Animation. Later in life Paul developed an interest in teaching and pursued an opportunity to share his knowledge and pass it on to the next generation. He is grateful that Modesto Academy of Music and Design has afforded him that opportunity.
*Paul has a comic book! Check it out HERE.


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photo Andrew Johnson

Algebra & Programming

Since graduating from UC Davis, Master Johnson has served as a mathematics teacher for almost 15 years, teaching at Beyer High, Enochs High, and Modesto Junior College as well. He loves the beauty and logic of mathematics, particularly the patterns that can be found in both math and life. He enjoys getting to know his students and to use his expertise to help them to understand and master the math for themselves. His understanding of mathematics has transferred well into his new passion of writing programs, even writing his own applications to enhance his students’ understanding of mathematics.

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photo Kelsie Coray

Office Support Staff

As a native to Washington State, Kelsie came to San Jose, California in 2012 and fell in love with the weather! She quickly made a life for herself continuing her career in customer service. With her passion for helping people and serving the public, she has now settled down in the Modesto, CA area. While her husband works as a Worship Pastor for a local church, they are both able to share the their love for music and the arts within their careers. You will find her in the office here at M.A.M.D. ready to assist you. Outside of the office Kelsie likes to visit the dog park with her two dogs, exercising at the gym and hanging out with friends. 

  

     
photo Debbie Featherston

Office Support Staff

Debbie earned a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and a Multiple Subject Instruction credential from CSU Stanislaus. After several years of working at the elementary school level and starting a family, she made the decision to step away from the workforce to homeschool her son. Through a stroke of serendipity, she discovered Modesto Academy where her son began piano lessons and where she was later hired to be a part of the amazing office team. During her free time she loves to spend time with her family and friends, read anything she can get her hands on, camp in Yosemite, and travel to new places.