Arts Instructors

Peggy Benkeser, Director of the Arts

Peggy Benkeser is the Director of Arts at The Galloway School where she works with a team of teaching artists in music, theatre, dance, visual arts and media arts to craft experiences for students that infuse moments of joyful creativity throughout the school day.   A life-long lover of innovation in the arts, Peggy received three awards for Adventurous Programming from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Chamber Music America while Artistic Director of the Atlanta-based ensemble, Thamyris.    As a professional percussionist, her love of learning new music combined with a passion for travel has enabled her to study the Irish bodhran, Nigerian talking-drum, steel drums of Trinidad and Javanese gamelan music. At The Galloway School Peggy is the director of the World Music Ensemble, Percussion Ensembles and has taught classes in general music, music technology, song-writing and digital recording.

Kerren Berz, Middle and Upper Learning Orchestra

Kerren Berz's talents span the musical spectrum. She has worked with strings students throughout the Atlanta area and is a former orchestra director for Spelman College and for the Chattanooga School for Creative Arts. Currently Concertmaster of the Columbus (GA) Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Berz has also performed, recorded, and toured with the Atlanta Symphony, the Harlem Festival Orchestra, and the Nashville Chamber Orchestra. In addition, Ms. Berz is well respected in the popular music industry. She has shared the stage with music legends, including Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Rod Stewart, and Joni Mitchell, among others, and toured with Amy Grant and Vince Gill. As a music arranger and performer, she is featured on albums by Outkast, Pink, Cartel, Sinead O'Connor, and on the hit single "Survivor," by Destiny's Child. She is a voting member of The Recording Academy and has participated on nominating committees for the annual Grammy Awards.

Misao Cates, Upper Learning Costuming and Technical Theatre

Misao Cates is a maker. With roots as a visual artist, she begin her artistic career as a graphic designer. She eventually discovered working in 3D to be more fulfilling and presently enjoys working with fabric, paper, foam, found objects, and just about anything with interesting color, shape and texture. She has designed and created hats and bridal veils, centerpiece sculptures for special events, and props and set pieces for the film industry. She has been a participating artist a number of years for Art on the Atlanta Beltline with her site-specific interactive installations. She has lead a Galloway Beltline Excursion and worked with a group of UL students to build and install an interactive sculpture on the Eastside Trail.

Misao has been a part of the Galloway community for many years as a parent of two “lifer” students, and as costumer with the Galloway Theatre Company where she has designed and built costumes for every Galloway level. She finds it incredibly rewarding to work and collaborate with UL Technical Theatre students in building costumes and props to bring stories to life on the stage.

Megan Cramer, Upper Learning Theatre

This is Megan Cramer’s fourth year at The Galloway School as an Upper Learning theatre teacher. Born and raised in Atlanta, and a proud graduate of Henry W. Grady High School, she spent 15 years living, working and making theatre in New York City, most notably as the Associate Artistic Director of The 52nd Street Project. Ms. Cramer was also the Middle School drama teacher at Avenues: The World School in Manhattan, where she produced and directed bilingual theatrical productions and guided 6th grade students in writing and staging an original musical adaptation of “The Phantom Tollbooth.” In 2008, she founded an annual playwriting program at Grady High – the Grady Playmakers Workshop -- an intensive curriculum for high school students that culminates in a staged reading of their work, featuring professional Atlanta actors. She has continued this work with The Alliance Theater, leading a playwriting camp for both high school and elementary students. Ms. Cramer received a B.A. degree in theatre from Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC). In addition to her work in the world of teaching and directing, she performs as an actor and teaching artist in Atlanta with Horizon Theatre Company, Synchronicity Theatre, and the Alliance Theatre Company. Hopefully you can see her perform onstage around town soon!

Sally Cramer, Upper Learning Dance

Sally Cramer is a life-long dance enthusiast and educator.  She founded Galloway’s dance program in 2005, and currently teaches dance classes for students in Upper Learning.  In addition, Ms. Cramer directs The Galloway Dance Ensemble, is the resident choreographer for The Galloway Theatre Company, and coordinates special dance initiatives for the school.  She especially enjoys guiding students in creating their own choreography. Ms. Cramer earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Florida State University. Other highlights of Ms. Cramer’s career include performing for ten years with Lee Harper and Dancers and performing in the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics.  She is also a founding member of the new Dance Educators of Georgia Society where she serves as a Director of Membership.

Juana Farfan, Early and Middle Learning Dance

Juana Farfan is a dance educator and independent artist/choreographer. Juana has a B.A. in Modern Dance Performance from the University of South Florida, and holds a certi cation from the Teachers Training Institute in Dance Education. Recently, Juana traveled to her hometown Bogotá-Colombia, to give an artistic residency at her school in arts curriculum integration. In the past, she has been a teaching artist for Georgia Perimeter College, Dynamic X-Change- CORE Performance Company Outreach Program, Moving in the Spirit, and Playmaking for Girls at Synchronicity Theatre Company. Juana has taught Spanish and English through/with movement at several schools in Metro Atlanta, taught dance workshops in a native community in the Amazon-Colombia, and creative movement workshops at The Children’s Museum of Atlanta. Juana has also worked with local choreographers Lori Teague, Blake Beckham, Nicole Livieratos, Greg Catallier, Onur Topal-Summer, DENSE, CORE Performance Company, and Beacon Dance, and has presented her personal work at HymHouse-Eyedrum, MAD Festival, and Skwirlhaus. Not long ago, Juana had the opportunity to take a somatic workshop with world-renowned dance pioneer Anna Halprin at her home studio in California. Juana was also recently certified in Grounded Kids Yoga and Brain Compatible Dance Education with Anne G. Gilbert. Juana loves to play and improvise.

Linda Floyd, Early Learning Music

Linda Floyd has been teaching music for 30+ years, 28 of which have been at The Galloway School. She has a Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education and Music Therapy from East Carolina University and a Master of Music Degree from Georgia State University. She has taught elementary, middle and high school choral and general music. In addition to her duties as music educator, Mrs. Floyd frequently accompanies choral groups on the piano and plays in the pit orchestra for the high school musicals. She was the musical director for eight of Galloway's Upper Learning musicals.

Mrs. Floyd has worked in the afterschool program at Galloway for many years as a co-teacher with one of the theatre instructors and has taught summer music camps at Galloway and in other settings.

Carmen Gonzalez, Early Learning Visual Art

 

Mary Stuart Hall, Middle and Upper Learning Visual Arts and Photography

Graduating with a degree in Sculpture at Sewanee, The University of the South, and a Master's in Art Education from the University of Georgia, Mary Stuart Hall is currently pursuing her MFA in Studio Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Ms. Hall teaches ML and UL visual art including photography, sculpture, ceramics and AP/Advanced Art. Not only is Ms. Hall a devoted art teacher, she also maintains a studio practice outside of her teaching. A multi-disciplinary artist born and raised in Atlanta, she creates sculptural installations that mediate text and other forms of cultural artifacts into a multi-dimensional experience. She has shown her work in Atlanta and the Southeast.

Elissa Marele, Middle and Upper Learning Theatre

Ms. Marele is thrilled to be beginning her 4th year directing the ML Theatre Program here at Galloway.  She received a BA in Theatre Education from The University of South Florida and an MS in Interdisciplinary Arts from Nova Southeastern University. Ms. Marele has directed over 50 full length and one act musicals and plays in Georgia and in Florida.   Ms. Marele also co-directs the UL plays and musicals and is proud that the Galloway Theatre Company has been chosen to perform at the Georgia Thespian Conference as well as representing our school as One Act State Champions. Her students have been nominated for and won numerous awards including Critic's Choice, South Florida Cappie Awards, Shuler Hensley Awards and Scholarships. 

 

Brian Mitchell, Middle and Upper Learning Music and Guitar

Brian Mitchell is a professional guitarist, music educator and composer. He has served on the faculties of the University of West Georgia and Georgia Perimeter College where he directed the guitar ensemble in addition to teaching individual and group lessons on guitar. As a composer, his works have been performed at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C, the High Museum of Art and at colleges and universities throughout the eastern United States. In 2006 he was commissioned by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta to compose a new score for Sergei Eisenstein’s legendary silent film Que Viva México! The score for mixed chamber ensemble received its premiere at the opening of The High’s 2006 Latin American Film Festival. Linda Dubler, former Curator of Media Arts at The High Museum said, “Finally, QUE VIVA MEXICO’s exquisite black and white imagery has a fitting accompaniment in composer Brian Mitchell’s subtle, understated score.” In 2017, he completed an arrangement of Anne Richardson’s score for “Claire”, a silent film based on the Japanese fairy tale "Kaguyahime” by Atlanta filmmaker Milt Thomas. The new arrangement received its premiere at The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta as well as an additional performance at the Braunschweig International Film Festival in Germany in the fall of 2018.

 

Erin Ray, Middle Learning Visual Art

Erin Ray holds a BFA in Art Education from the University of Georgia, as well as National Board Certification. She has taught visual art for 13 years and still learns new ways to go about it every day! Her balanced curriculum offers students the opportunity to build skills sequentially in a variety of media while developing creativity and personal voice. Her favorite medium is printmaking, especially in the classroom. She loves to travel and go on adventures with her partner, Austin, and young son, Calvin.

 

Cassandra Riddle, Middle and Upper Learning Chorus

Ms. Riddle joins the Galloway community as the ML and UL Choral Director.  Her first career began as a professional opera singer performing leading roles with opera companies all over the world.  Ms. Riddle was awarded an Emmy for her performance of Mimi in Live from Lincoln Center’s La Boheme. She took some time off and lived in a van travelling throughout the US rock climbing.  She then moved to Chattanooga, TN, where she was the Choral Director at the Girls Preparatory School. During her years at GPS, she was responsible for growing the underdeveloped program to a thriving MS and US Choral Program.  Ms. Riddle is excited to be at Galloway, helping young artists reach true potential vocally and through diverse repertoire, explore the many possibilities that music has to offer.  

Lore Ruttan, Middle and Upper Learning Visual Art

Lore Ruttan recently discovered she is a “multipotentialite”, meaning she has serious interests in a lot of different things. She received degrees in biology from the University of Chicago, Ecology and Evolution from the University of Minnesota, and in Human Ecology from the University of California at Davis. Subsequent to receiving her Ph.D. she joined the Department of Environmental Studies at Emory and taught there for nine years. While at Emory, Lore took courses in Botanical Illustration at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and in Natural Science Illustration at the University of Santa Cruz. In doing so, she discovered a new passion for art and illustration and left Emory to start her business, Lore Ruttan Illustration. She continues to work as an illustrator creating commissioned work for scientific publications, public spaces, and private collections. She has taught science illustration at Emory University and the Highlands Biological Station in Highlands, North Carolina, and she has taught fine art at the Atlanta Montessori International School and now at The Galloway School. Lore loves working with people of all ages to help them discover their unique, hidden talents. She brings to the classroom a love of exploration and discovery, and an eagerness to find connections across the sciences and humanities.

Daniel Solammon, Middle and Upper Learning Band

Daniel Solammon became involved in music by playing woodwind and brass instruments, as well as arranging music in his hometown of Decatur. Deciding to pursue music professionally, Mr. Solammon earned a B.M. in Composition at Michigan State University and M.M. in Jazz Studies at University of New Orleans. His music endeavors have included stints in New Orleans, performing and arranging music with Harold Batiste, Wynton Marsalis, Ben E. King, and Ellis Marsalis; and Los Angeles, CA, performing and composing music with Grammy-nominated recording artist Dionne Farris and Grammy-winning recording artist Van Hunt.  Mr. Solammon has 14 years of experience teaching band, piano, guitar, bass, drums, and composition across a wide variety of genres. Alongside his work in education, Mr. Solammon continues to perform and compose,  including projects with Fox Networks, BET, Aspire TV, Bounce TV, and Bravo.

Liz Whalen, Middle and Upper Learning Technical Theatre

Liz offers Middle Learning classes in Woodworking, Technical Theatre and Creating Props as well as Upper Learning classes in stagecraft. Ms. Whalen will be an important part of the theatre creative team and will run the afterschool Galloway Theatre Company Tech Crew. A lifelong theatre kid at heart, Liz received her BA in Theatre from Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame and her MFA from the University of Alabama in Technical Theatre Production. A Midwest native, Liz has worked with theatre companies across the country including Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Brevard Opera Company, and more.