FEMEA is thrilled to introduce the conductors of elementary ensembles at the
2024 FMEA Professional Development Conference & All-State Concerts
Dena Byers is Artistic Director for the Durham Children’s Choir (DCC) and has been with the organization since its founding in 2004. She currently teaches at Hillandale Elementary School and serves as one of the lead elementary music teachers. Dena has taught for Durham Public Schools for 26 years. She is National Board Certified and has been honored by being a top four finalist for District Teacher of the Year and receiving the NC Symphony’s Jackson Parkhurst Award for Special Achievement in music education. An active member of the American Choral
Directors Association and the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, Dena has been a guest conductor for All-State Honor Choirs in Mississippi and Tennessee as well as District All-County Choirs in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama. She has presented workshops for Orff Schulwerk chapters throughout the US and at National AOSA Professional Development Conferences. Dena currently teaches Level II Orff Schulwerk at the University of Memphis each summer. She received BA degrees in Music Education and Vocal Performance
from the University of Connecticut, a Master of Music from the University of Minnesota andholds Level III and Master Level Orff Schulwerk Certifications from the University of Nevada-Las
Vegas and the University of Memphis, respectively.
Christopher Giles is a K-5 music specialist at Mireles Elementary in San Antonio, TX and adjunct professor at the University of the Incarnate Word. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio where he received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education. Mr. Giles also holds his principal certification from Lamar University. He completed Orff-Schulwerk certification and two Master’s classes at Trinity University. He has been awarded Educator of Year, received his district’s Stellar Success Award, Above and Beyond Educator in music education and has a Grammy nomination. His ensembles have been invited to perform for district initiatives and his Orff Ensemble was an invited performing group for the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA). Mr. Giles is a past board trustee for the American Orff-Schulwerk Association and currently serves as the Elementary Vice President of TMEA.
Michael Vasquez teaches Pre K-5 music at Kuentz Elementary in San Antonio, TX. They earned both their bachelors and masters degrees at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and received their Orff training at Trinity University. Michael is the co-author of the Purposeful Pathways supplemental "Percussive Play" and is an ACEMM spotlight award recipient and active clinician on Orff process, and elemental movement. They are an NISD teacher of the year and HEB Educator of Excellence Nominee as well as a 2023 Grammy Quarterfinalist in Music Education. Michael teaches summer courses across the nation as an American Orff-Schulwerk Association movement and recorder instructor.