Meet The YMA Team
Music Program Director
Cynthia Smith is a native of Durham, NC where she began her music studies at the Duke String School. She holds degrees in Violin Performance from the Manhattan School of Music and UNC-Greensboro, as well as being a certified K-12 Music teacher for the public schools in North Carolina. Her professional experiences include orchestra, chamber music, and teaching in a variety of settings. Since 2007 she has been the Orchestra Director at Broadview Middle School and Cummings High School in Burlington, North Carolina.
Byron Grimes is a music educator and native North Carolinian who resides in Greensboro, NC. He attended The University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he earned both his Bachelor of Music degree in Education, and his Master of Music degree in Education. He is also a certified K-12 Music teacher for the public schools in North Carolina, where he began teaching 4th and 5th grade orchestra at Grove Park, Hillcrest and Marvin B. Smith Elementary Schools in 2007, and continues to love his work. Outside of the classroom, Byron plays percussion in the Greensboro Concert Band, teaches private violin and marimba lessons, and enjoys any chance to travel.
Mr. Kelly Jackson is a Music Educator from Greensboro, NC. He earned his Bachelor's of Music Education from Appalachian State University while studying voice. Kelly has been a singer all his life and a professional musician for 15 years. Kelly has taught General Music at North Graham A+ Elementary School for six years now and has been a Teaching Artist for Young Musicians of Alamance for the last two years. After Graduating from ASU, he spent four years living in Boston, MA working as an after school program coordinator and musician. When he is not teaching music, Kelly can be seen performing as a Solo Acoustic artist around the Piedmont area. In his free time, he enjoys spending time in nature and traveling.
Mr. Parker is a music educator and native North Carolinian living in High Point, NC. He attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he received his Bachelor of Music Education degree and Florida State University where he received his Master of Music Education degree with a focus in Music Therapy. He teaches with the Guilford County School system having taught 6th through 8th grade chorus and 6th and 7th grade orchestra at Jackson Middle School. Now, he teaches at High Point Central High School as the lead Chorus, Orchestra, and Music Theory teacher. Additionally, he is the Music Director, violinist and violist, and an attendee of Mercy Hill Church at their High Point Campus. In his spare time, he plays with the High Point University Community Orchestra as assistant principal in the 2nd violin section and is the viola sections with the Danville Symphony and with the Greensboro Philharmonia.
Ms. Eileen Penn has been an instructor for Young Musicians of Alamance since Winter, 2019. She is a music teacher for the Alamance Burlington School System.
Sara Realini graduated from Williams High School in 2016 and is now a senior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro double majoring in elementary and special education. She started playing the violin when she was in fifth grade and has now been playing for twelve years. While at Williams High School, Sara, along with several members of the school's orchestra, were given the chance to perform with the Elon University Orchestra during their Spring 2013 concert. During her senior year at Williams, Sara participated in a master class with a few members of the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra that ended with a combined concert between those members and the Williams Orchestra at UNCG. Additionally, during her senior year, Sara participated in an auditioned chamber orchestra group. Sara has been with the YMA program since January 2017.
Volunteer Teaching Artist
Mrs. Jean Artley brings a long history of music education to Young Musicians of Alamance. She volunteers her time most recently by teaching YMA's youngest students proper technique for holding and playing their instruments. In her spare time, Ms. Artley volunteers with the First Reformed United Church of Christ and travels the world.
Ms. Carol Burnett has been the Ministry Assistant for the First Reformed United Church of Christ for thirty years. Carol has provided financial/bookkeeping services for Young Musicians of Alamance since it began. When not crunching numbers and keeping the Minister in line, she entertains her furry home companion Mr. Fizzles and travels in the mountains of North Carolina.
Board of Directors
Reverend Phil Myers
Phillip Myers has been the minister of the First Reformed United Church of Christ in Burlington, NC, for 25 years. He joined the advisory board of Young Musicians of Alamance upon the organization's creation. He currently serves as the President of the Board.
Dr. Beverly Pugh
Dr. Beverly Pugh was a teacher for the Alamance Burlington School System. After receiving her Master's degree, she became a Principal in the Rowan County School System. Bev currently runs her own bakery and is completing courses at Alamance Community College in the Culinary department.
Mr. Wallace Shearin worked with the Alamance Community College until his retirement. He returned to ACC to work part-time currently. Wally has two children and three grandchildren whom he visits as often as possible. He has served as the Treasurer for Young Musicians of Alamance since it's inception.
Susan Abernethy has been active in music since childhood, and earned an undergraduate degree in violin performance at Elon College (now Elon University) and a graduate degree in musicology at the College of Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio. She taught in the Fulton County Public Schools in Atlanta and Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina. She retired after teaching in the Computer Science department for more than 25 years. Her interests include creating botanical art, travel, and spending time with friends and family. Mrs. Abernethy joined the YMA Board in 2018.
Raheem Aleem grew up in Jacksonville North Carolina. He received a BA from North Carolina Central University and a Military Commission from Duke University in 1988. Raheem is a former Trustee with the NC Humanities and a current board member for the PROUD Youth Program. He served as a taskforce member for Durham TRY (Together for Resilient Youth) and was a co-founder of the CHOICES Youth Program. He constantly serves the community through volunteering and participates in performing arts through Huepa Culture & Arts Institute. He worked as a Hispanic Liaison and Law Enforcement Officer for over 24 years. He holds his Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Law Enforcement Certificates. Raheem has been the recipient of several community service awards during his career.
Suzan Evans was elected to the YMA Board in January, 2020. She has extensive nonprofit management and community outreach experience and currently works for the Children's Advocacy Center of North Carolina.
Thelma Gardiner is a teacher with the Alamance-Burlington School System. Ms. Gardiner worked with the Women's Resource Center for several years. She joined the YMA Board in November 2019
Shelley Realini joined the Young Musicians of Alamance Board in January 2019. She is a Certified Payroll Professional with Payroll Solutions, Inc. and has experience working in Human Resources and Payroll. Shelley previously was the President of the Williams Zone Orchestra Boosters program for several years, where she oversaw budgets, approved purchases, assisted with fundraisers and volunteered at orchestra concerts for five schools.
Yholima Vargas is a native of Colombia South America. She is a Social Worker who is actively involved in community advocacy and engagement. Yholima promotes cultural understanding and diversity by celebrating her Colombian heritage through visual art and dance. She is the founder of Asi es Colombia (Canada) and Huepa Culture and Arts here in North Carolina. She serves as a board member for Durham Nativity School and Mayors Hispanic Latino Committee in Durham.
After watching a 60 Minutes report on El Sistema of Venezuela, Ms. Bader developed a plan for a similar music program for children in Alamance County, NC. She founded Young Musicians of Alamance in 2016. The organization has continued to grow since that day. Ms. Bader retired in January, 2019. She now resides in the mountains of North Carolina and volunteers at the El Sistema program in Asheville, NC, MusicWorks!