Deborah A. Mello is the recipient of the Master Teacher Award from the New Jersey Music Education Association, the New Jersey Governor’s Award for Arts in Education, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Master Teacher Collaborative Award, sponsored by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. In May 2007, Debbie was one of fifty music educators in the United States to receive the inaugural Distinguished Music Educator Award from Yale University.
As a member of the American Choral Directors Association, Debbie has served on the Repertoire & Standards Committee for Children’s Choirs as New Jersey State Chair, Eastern Division Chair and National Chair. She is currently serving the ACDA Eastern Division Board as Chair of Repertoire & Standards for Children’s Choirs. A recipient of the Artist Teacher certificate from the Choral Music Education courses founded by Doreen Rao, Deborah has been a Teaching Associate in the CME courses taught in the United States, Canada, and in Europe, including England, Sweden, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
She has conducted area, state, and regional honor choirs throughout the United States for children through mixed voice high school choirs. In addition to conducting, Deborah has presented numerous workshops on elementary music education, music curriculum, children’s choirs, choral repertoire, and choral conducting for the New Jersey Music Educators, New York American Choral Directors Association, Massachusetts Choral Directors, Louisiana Choral Directors Association, Music Educators National Conference, National American Choral Directors Association and Oberlin Conservatory.
In collaboration with New Jersey composer, Jill Gallina, Debbie has written All-American Sing-Along Songs, a collection of patriotic songs and companion lesson plans, and For the Boys, a collection of songs that boys love to sing with background information and companion lesson plans. She has authored articles that have been published in the New Jersey Music Educators Journal, the Eastern Division American Choral Directors Newsletter, and The Choral Journal and most recently in a publication of the Music Educators National Conference.
After thirty-two years as a public school music educator-choral conductor, Deborah retired as Director of Choral Activities at Randolph High School in Randolph, New Jersey. Currently, she is teaching at Seton Hall University. In addition to teaching, Deborah serves as the Junior Choir Director at Christ Episcopal Church in Newton, New Jersey.
The conductor of CCSC’s Young Men’s Ensemble, CHRISTOPHER HENKE, has been the Junior High Choral Director at Kittatinny Regional High School for the past four years. A vocal music educator for the past fourteen years, Christopher holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Wittenberg University with an emphasis in choral music and pipe organ performance. He also holds a Masters Degree in curriculum, instruction and assessment from Walden University. A member of the VoiceCare Network, Mr. Henke is also a published composer.
LINDA DEGROAT is a music educator and choral director at Long Pond School in Andover Township. She also teaches piano, accompanies her church choir, and serves as an organist at Lafayette Federated Church. She directed the Sussex County Jr. Honors Choir in 2004 and accompanied this group in 2006. Linda has accompanied North Jersey Region Chorus several times and also has been Music Director at various musical theater productions in Sussex County. Linda has enjoyed knowing and working with Deborah Mello for many years since they were fellow music education majors at Glassboro State College, now known as Rowan University.
JANELLE HEISE is a music educator and choral director at Pequannock Valley Middle School, Pompton, Plains, New Jersey. She also teaches privately and is a music consultant for Educational Testing Service. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Keyboard Area Performance from DePauw University and a Master of Music Education degree with conducting concentration from Westminster Choir College. Janelle has accompanied North Jersey Regions Chorus and currently manages the New Jersey Elementary Honor Choir. She resides in West Milford with her husband and has two children attending college.
ELISA SCHAEFFER, collaborative pianist for the Young Men’s Ensemble is a graduate of the prestigious Manhattan School of Music with a major in classical composition and a minor in voice. She is much sought after as a collaborative pianist in California and now the New York tri-state area. Elisa is a published composer of film scores, and is currently publishing her own compositions. She serves as Director of Worship and Music Ministries at the Blairstown Evangelical Free Church where she is in charge of all aspects of musical offerings. Elisa also maintains a private voice and piano studio.