PAULA EDWARDS, has been Choral Director at her alma mater, Robert E. Lee High School since 1989. Studying conducting with Dr. Loyd Hawthorne, she received both her Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees at Hardin-Simmons University. Paula began her career teaching all-level music in Brandenburg, Kentucky. She returned to Texas to become Choral Director at Madison High School, San Antonio. During her nine years at Madison she served as Fine Arts Chairman, All-State Section Leader, and Region Vocal Chair. While at Lee Paula has served as All-State Mixed and Treble Choir Organizer, All- State Section Leader, and Region 6 Vocal Chair. She frequently hosts Area Auditions, UIL Concert & Sight-reading and Region Clinic and Concert events. Paula’s professional affiliations include: TMEA, TMAA, ACDA, TCDA, TCTA and SAI.
During Paula’s tenure at Lee, the choirs have received consistent “Sweepstakes” ratings at UIL contests, sung four times at TMEA, and participated in overseas concert tours to Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy and the British Isles. In addition to UIL and TMEA activies the Lee Choirs’ performance season includes traditional concerts of “classic” choral music, a staged and choregraphed Musical Revue, and an annual Renaissance Madrigal Dinner.
KAREN BLACKSTONE, Assistant Director and Accompanist at Lee, graduated with a B.M. and M.A. in vocal performance from Stephen F. Austin State University. Her post-graduate work includes a Ford Foundation Fellowship for Kodály Study at Holy Names College in California and doctoral studies (coursework completed) for a Ph.D. in Vocal Performance/Literature at University of Connecticut Magna Cum cut studying with Doris Yarick-Cross. During her 30 years as a music educator, Karen has taught in Round Rock ISD, Converse-Judson ISD and North East ISD in San Antonio. She was selected as one of 2 master teachers for the Kodály Project in the San Jose Unified School District- a joint venture by SJUSD and the Ford and Hewlett-Packard Foundations. For ten years prior to returning to Texas, she was an opera/vocal coach and artistic administrator for the Yale University School of Music Graduate Opera program in New Haven, CT.
CRAIG GRIFFITH began teaching at Abell Junior High in 1995 and became co-director of the Lee Freshman High School Choirs in 1999. He graduated from Robert Service High School in Anchorage, Alaska, where he was an All State Bass Player for two years and received a Presidential Award for Music Excellence. Mr. Griffith, a 1982 graduate of East Texas Baptist College, was a member of the College Choir under the direction of Jim Moore. Prior to moving to Midland, Mr. Griffith taught at Liberty-Eylau Junior High and High School in Liberty-Eylau, P. E. Wallace Junior High in Mt. Pleasant, and Wills Point Junior High, where he had the privilege of developing the choir program. He was chosen as Abell's Teacher of the Year in 2001. Craig served Region VI as Junior High Vocal Coordinator for 5 years and was the Region Vice-President on two different occasions. He has served on the U.I.L. Sight-Reading Committee, has judged at numerous U.I.L. Concert & Sight-Reading competitions and has been an All-Region Clinician across the state and is a member of TMEA, TCDA, and TCTA. Craig is married to Davelyn Griffith, who teaches 4th Grade English in Midland and they have two wonderful daughters, Whitney and Andrea.
BETH KAUFMAN GARZA, currently in her tenth year as director at Alamo Junior High School and co-director of the Lee Freshman High School Choirs, is a 1997 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School, where she was a member of Chorale and Origin. Beth graduated summa cum laude from Hardin-Simmons University in 2001 with a degree in Music Education. While at HSU, she was a member of Sigma Alpha Iota, Pi Kappa Lambda and the HSU Concert Choir, under the direction of Dr. Loyd Hawthorne. In 2006, Mrs. Garza completed her Master’s degree in Music Education from Texas Tech studying with Dr. Janice Killian. Under Mrs. Garza’s direction, the Alamo JHS Choirs earned their first Sweepstakes award in over 30 years, and have consistently earned high ratings at contests including “Best in Class” at the Greater Southwest Music Festival and Irons Invitational. From 2001 to 2008, Mrs. Garza served as the Region VI JH/MS Vocal Chair. Mrs. Garza is a member of TMEA, TCDA, and Chorister’s Guild and also serves as Assistant Director of Music at First United Methodist Church in Midland. She is married to Beau Garza, Orchestra Director at Robert E. Lee High School in Midland.
L-R: Beth, Craig, Karen, Paula