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. 


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.


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.

photo Ethan Richison

LEGO™ & Robotics

Ethan Richison or Mr. Ethan is 20 years old and is a current student at Stanislaus State University studying history. Ethan began working for the Modesto Academy of Music and Design in 2016 and began taking classes in 2011. Since then Ethan has been taught the techniques for pre-engineering, robotics engineering, and robotic programming. Along with what he makes for the class Ethan tries to make other designs that coincide with the activities and curriculum for the lessons.



photo Joey Coray

Voice Lessons 

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


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. 


photo Paul Herrera
Brass Instruments

 grew up in Stockton, CA. While at Fresno State, he was the recipient of the Rookie of the Year Award in 2006 with the Bulldog Marching Band and was a member of the Jazz Band A, Wind Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, and Clendenin Brass Quintet. He has traveled the world performing in Beijing, England, Spain, Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the Sydney Opera House.
As an educator: he has taught private brass lessons since 2007. His private students have received top brass player awards at their schools; auditioned and made local honor bands, honor orchestras, and the All-State Honor Bands. Paul has been a faculty member at Clovis West High School, Washington Union High School, American Union Elementary School, and San Jose State University. In 2013, he was selected as American Union Elementary School's Teacher of the Year. In 2016, he completed his MA degree in Instrumental Conducting at San Jose State University. He is the current music director at Joseph A. Gregori High School. 
Paul is an active member of the National Association for Music Education, California Band Directors Association, California Music Educators Association, California Orchestra Directors Association, and is serving as Treasurer for the Central Valley Guard and Percussion Circuit and the Stanislaus County Music Educators Association.

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 is a member of the Pacific Avenue Clarinets. He currently plays clarinet for the Central Valley’s premier concert band- The Valley Concert Band. Chris also enjoys playing woodwind parts in musical theater! A few of his favorites are Fiddler on the Roof and Will Rodgers Follies.

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.  She is currently a member of the Stanislaus Branch of the Music Teachers Association of California (MTAC), an evaluator for Certificate of Merit (CM) program, and prepares some of her flute students to perform in CM.  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.

photo Jessica Johnson

Math Tutor

Jessica graduated from UC Davis in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in Genetics. During college, she worked as a math tutor and completed an internship at a continuation high school as an aide for a math and science teacher. From those experiences, she decided that she loved working in education more than working in a lab. She has experience teaching high school as well as substitute teaching and most recently helping in her kids’ classes. In the 2013-2014 school year, her son’s 5th grade teacher had her working one-on-one with students in the class with their math and she fell in love with tutoring again. The teacher said of Jessica, “She has a great ability to detect where a child is struggling and the thought process they use to solve a problem. These mathematical remediation skills have made her a valued asset to my classroom. She is very energetic and has a wonderful rapport with children. Her enthusiasm is very inviting and the students have taken very well to her.”


photo Amy Maris


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.


photo Jacqueline Del Curto


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.


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


photo Tai Wong

Science, Programming, Technology, Mathematics and More!

Tai has mentored, taught, tutored numerous subjects for grades K-12 and beyond to youth, college age, and seniors in his role as founder of Covenant Heritage Academy Tutoring Services along with his wife, Kathy. After years in Information Technology software, operating systems, applications, and natural and computer languages, he continues to explore technology to make it more fun and approachable for students. Tai says, "Education should be a joyful life-long journey from mystery to steps of knowing facts, walking from discovery to understanding, flying onward from practice to forms of proficiency." His goal is to come alongside students and enable them to supercahrge their learning styles, gain insights, and collaborate with one another make better tools and methods utilitzing beyond the box thinking. Currently, he continues to privately tutor and is excited to bring a new variety of classes to MAMD. 


photo Blaze Pascua


Blaze Pascua is 20 years old and has been making homemade films since he was 12. He has competed and won awards in several competitions — such as Skills USA’s digital cinema contest, and Modesto’s own 48 Hour Film Challenge. Blaze is proficient with professional editing and design programs (Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.), with a little over 7 years’ worth of self-taught experience. He was also appointed Creative Director of Joseph A. Gregori’s News Broadcast program during his senior year. He teaches filmmaking as an art form, and believes that storytelling is done best when the filmmakers love what they’re doing.


photo Jay Evans

Group Piano & Private Piano Lessons

Mr. Jay earned his Bachelor's Degree in Vocal and Instrumental Music education at the University of Nevada. His major instrument was piano and taught high school band and chorus for 10 years and has taught private piano lessons in student's homes for over 50 years. Mr. Jay has also worked as a manager for AT&T, BART, and Wind River Systems for 35 years. He and his wife have been married for 58 years and have 7 children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren whom which he is very proud of. Mr. Jay enjoys religious activities and has served in many capacities in his church. He played trumpet and French horn in orchestras and various bands. On his free time, Mr. Jay enjoys playing tennis and occasionally golf. We are very pleased to have Mr. Jay join our team here at Modesto Academy; he brings a happy attitude and upbeat spirit to our facility. 


photo Rachel Grider

Private Voice Lessons & Group Vocal Classes

Rachel Grider is from Modesto, California.  She graduated from California State University Stanislaus in June of 2011 with a BM degree in vocal performance and composition, and from Peabody Conservatory in 2013 with MM degrees in Voice Performance and Music Theory Pedagogy.  She is currently teaching voice lessons in Modesto and performing free-lance.  She is working on expanding her career as a performer of oratorio and song.

photo Hamilton Farrens

LEGO™ & Robotics

Hamilton is a college student who is hoping to one day become a high school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) teacher. Before teaching robotics, he studied Computer Science for 3 years including robotics and game development. Hamilton enjoys playing music, singing, swimming, calisthenics, and playing with his sister and dogs. 

photo Christopher Fox
Drum, Percussion & Ukulele Lessons
Christopher Fox has been a professional musician in Northern California for over 10 years with total experience exceeding 20 years. He began his journey in elementary school with melodic percussion. Soon after he began an 8 year stent of private drum lessons from a local music school and soon began teaching others. While in High School, he developed a very successful field corps drum line with the assistance of the band director and helped several peers improve their drumming abilities. In and after college, he continued his passion for music by serving regularly on his church's worship team playing drums and guitar, performing regularly in local venues, and teaching the next generation of musicians (including his two children). 

In addition to performing, Chris also has a passion and experience in live sound and recording engineering.

He has performed in numerous notable venues including the famous Whisky A Go-Go in Hollywood, California, and the Pound in San Francisco. He has shared his passion for music throughout the Central Valley through private instruction and audio training for several years.

photo Ilse Crane

Literature Instructor & Tutoring 

I love books, all books (OK, don’t tell anyone, I like some better than others…) Always an avid reader, I made sure to stay close to books throughout my life– studying English literature in undergraduate and graduate school and working in various publishing jobs since graduation.Born in The Netherlands, I have lived in many different places around the world. I now live in Modesto, California and work as an Adjunct Instructor for the Language & Literature Department at Modesto Junior College as well as a community education instructor and a private tutor of writing and language skills, literary appreciation and analysis, and creative writing. I’m also proud to be an accredited instructor for the Institute for Excellence in Writing, a powerful writing program for students of all ages.. In another lifetime, I was a literary agent for children’s books.With a Master’s degree in English Literature and years of reading and writing experience, I am passionate about the written word and look forward to inspiring others to be equally passionate about reading and writing.

photo Allison Ruiz

Group and Private Ukulele & Guitar

Allison is a local musician who performs and tours all around California. When she is not
performing, she is passionate about spreading her love and knowledge of music to students of
all ages from their beginning through advanced stages of playing. She has studied music
production at the Los Angeles Film School, as well as guitar performance and music theory at
Modesto Junior College. She is currently completing her education and is excited to earn her BA
in music to continue her teaching career. In 2018 she was nominated for a Modesto Area Music
Award for her involvement in the local music scene. In addition to her musical experience, she
has gained experience working with children of all ages and abilities in her previous work as a
Behavior Therapist.

photo Noah Boj-Sode

LEGO™ & Robotics 

Noah has been a robotics and engineering enthusiast since a very young age, inspired originally by the Spirit and Opportunity rovers sent to Mars. At the age of 12 he studied LEGO Mindstorms for 12 weeks at San Joaquin County’s robotics lab and shortly thereafter started experimenting with making his own robots. In 2016, he was a student at the Academy on the VEX EDR robotics team. After that competition, he began assisting in LEGO and VEX robotics classes and has gone on to lead LEGO pre-engineering and LEGO Mindstorms. He has also assisted in teaching scratch programming and is always looking to share his enthusiasm for robotics and engineering with others.

photo Kirill Kovalenko

LEGO™ & Robotics

Kirill loves helping others and working with students. He has been building Lego since he was a child and personally designing a candy machine as well as a safe out of Lego. He has learned programming in High School and has programmed and built a working thermometer. He is currently enrolled at Oakdale Highschool as a senior and will graduate in 2021. After Highschool, Kirill plans on attending a University to study Aerospace Engineering. 

photo Tamar Yefet


Tamar is a mixed media artist working in abstract drawing, photography, collage, and found-object sculpture. She earned her BFA in Studio Art from the University of California Santa Barbara. In her senior year, she participated in an Art Honors Program and has exhibited in several shows since. She subsitute teaches in the area and enjoys inspiring kids to be themselves and see the beauty in everything through abstract art. Currently, she teaches and apprentices with local artists. 





photo Sydney Scott

Violin & Viola

Sydney is a violin, orchestra, and general music teaching in Salida Union School District. Ms. Scott received a M.M. in Music Education at the Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific and a B.M. in Violin Performance at West Virginia University. As secretary of the Stockton Association String Teachers Association, secretary of Stanislaus County Music educators Association, and active performer. Sydney is an active member of the local music education community. Sydney has also performed with the Sacramento State Orchestra, Modesto Opera, University of the Pacific Orchestra, and West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. 

photo Nehemiah Howard

LEGO™ & Robotics

Nehemiah is a junior at Rio Valley Charter School. He began attending Modesto Academy when he was 8 years old as a member of the Mindstorms team, which he did for three years. In 2017 he joined the VEX team and competed for two years. In his free time he enjoys spending time with family, watching movies and sports, playing videogames, and working with various kinds of technology. He hopes to one day study at USC in computer science. 

photo Odalys Caro

Group Piano & Private Piano Lessons

Odalys Caro is a recent university graduate from the prestigious university Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA and Valencia, Spain. She has been active in the music community in Modesto and in the Bay Area, performing with elite musicians in the Classical, Jazz, and Latin scene. Playing in numerous festivals domestically like the Puerto Rican Festival in Boston, San Jose Jazz Festival, and the San Francisco Carnval, to playing internationally at the London BBC Radio, and the EXIB Music festival in Setubal, Portugal, she has met an incredible amount of musicians from all cultures and backgrounds. She has been playing piano since she was 3 years old with the Suzuki School of music, where she also participated in Certificate of Merit. She is also skilled on the alto-saxophone and the bassoon, where she has played in the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra, Gregori Jazz Band, and Gregori Concert Band. During her time in Boston, she spent most of her time teaching children at the Boys and Girls Clubs in Charlestown and in Allston, MA. Odalys hopes to continue to grow as a musician and teacher by inspiring the next generation with her background and knowledge in music.

  Andrew Johnson
  Janise Robinson