West Point School of Music has attracted individuals with expertise and enthusiasm!
Julian J. Champion BS, MAFM – Founder and Executive Director
Julian J. Champion hails from the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. He began his career developing community social services programs in North Carolina with a concentration in spiritual and emotional care for the urban poor. Raised in a single parent home, he became acquainted very early with the debilitating effects of poverty upon the mind and on communal life. He understands firsthand the struggles that many urban youth faces. Determined to address this issue, he chose a career path in pastoral and social services hoping to make a difference in the lives of others.
Champion has over 15 years of ecumenical and social experience working in urban communities in North Carolina, Virginia, Minnesota, Indiana and Illinois with the Assemblies of God and The Salvation Army. Champion graduated Magna Cum Laude from the East Coast Bible College and holds a Masters in Accounting and Financial Management from the Keller Graduate School of Management. His background in Ministry and Finance allows him to strike a balance between compassion and fiscal discipline. He has been fortunate to use these skills simultaneously throughout his career.
His passion for music began at a very early change but it was not until the age of 17 that the opportunity was presented for him to play an instrument. While the saxophone was his instrument of choice, there was only a trumpet available so “I just played that – I could only play what was given because I was in no position to purchase my own” Champion says. Champion’s work in urban communities led to him using his passion for music to address the absence of opportunity for music education to the urban poor. During his time of service with The Salvation Army he developed vibrant music programs in Gary, Indiana, and in Chicago, Illinois.
Champion pursued his dream of establishing West Point School of Music in an effort to reach more youth through music. His love of music, gift of teaching and ability to inspire have well assisted him in nurturing change in those who have come from environments wracked with mediocrity at best and insignificance at its worst. He says playing and instrument is no easy feat, “there is very little that can compare to mastering the ability to count while changing rhythms, manage breathing while giving notes expression, and producing a melodious sound that maintains its beauty until the end.” He believes that once a child learns to read and play music, they very well understand they have accomplished something great and that nothing is impossible to them. He is especially concerned for those dealing with overwhelming challenges at home and where exposure to the arts is not commonplace.
“Urban communities need not just spiritual help but long-term, systemic assistance if they are to become oasis of hope and transformation”. Champion declares. A gifted communicator, he speaks at conferences, seminars and churches both locally and internationally. A citizen of the United States since 2008, Champion resides on the south side of Chicago with his wife, LeOné and their children.
Board of Directors
Jim Eaton – Board Chair
Jim is a product of public school music education, coming up through the great instrumental music program of the Normandy School District in St. Louis county. He began his career as a professional cellist in the Tulsa Philharmonic while attending the University of Tulsa. He returned to his hometown and continued his career as an orchestral educator, maintained a large studio of private cello students and was regularly heard as a performing cellist. His former students include members of the Boston Symphony, the conductor of the San Diego Ballet Company, the music faculty of Washington University and many school music educators in distinguished positions. A significant part of his playing career was his appointment as Artist Cellist of The American Kantorei, succeeding his teacher and student of Pablo Casals, Elizabeth Fischer. Jim worked as General Manager of School Music Service, a major player in the educational market in Missouri. He was soon appointed Director of Marketing for Scherl & Roth, subsequently product manager for William Lewis & Son, Executive Vice President of JR Music Supply, Executive Vice President of EMMC and now Vice President of Knilling and Orchestral Sales at St. Louis Music.
Jim has announced his retirement from St. Louis Music effective October 1st 2014. He is upbeat about the opportunity to devote his energy to serving on West Point’s board in very active manner.
Jennifer Ealy BS, MS – Secretary
Jennifer Ealy is a daughter of the south, born and raised in Forest, Mississippi. During her Middle and High School years she enjoyed participating in the marching band programs playing her trumpet, as well as studying piano. She holds an undergraduate degree in education and a Master’s degree in Counseling both from Jackson State University.
Ms. Ealy continues to build an illustrious career holding management positions in the non-profit and government sectors in both her native Mississippi and her adopted home Minnesota. She has served as the Education Coordinator empowering the underprivileged and disadvantaged youth she served, Associate Psychologist working with children with learning/developmental disabilities and Assistant Director working with children who experience the death of a loved one. She has also served as the community committee member for the local March of Dimes.
Ealy has also held positions with adults struggling with substance abuse and developmental issues as part of her comprehensive social services work history. Currently, she holds the position of Senior Planning Analyst/Contracts Manager for Local Government.
The opportunity to serve on the West Point’s board is exciting to her. “I remember what playing that trumpet meant to me as a child – no child who wants to should be denied that opportunity. I look forward to working with my fellow Board Members, Director Champion and the rest of the West Point team to build a music program that works for the kids of inner city Chicago”
Jennifer is a proud member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. She is married to Ted and they have one adult daughter.
Rich Breske – Strategic Marketing Management, LLC
Rich Breske has provided strategic management and marketing services to both public and private companies for over thirty years. He has brought outstanding vision and leadership skills both as corporate officer and as an independent marketing tactician.
For the past four years, Rich has provided executive planning and marketing acumen for 21st century companies through Strategic Marketing Management, LLC. Prior to opening his own firm, he served in key management roles at KHS America, Inc., the Conn-Selmer division of Steinway & Sons, Inc., and United Musical Instruments, all worldwide manufacturers and distributors. He served in the management of the SMART Foundation which provided programs and advocacy support for arts education. He has also authored several publications focused on the arts and education.
Rich grew up on Chicago’s south side and attended Marist High School, where he was an active member and drum major of the school’s marching band. He attended Elmhurst College, receiving a degree in marketing and music-business. His early career included time at the Chicago Symphony and Ravinia Festival organizations, as well as classes at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. Rich has served on several non-profit boards and plays piano in his church’s worship band.
Shana R. Pearson – Vice President and Lead Strategist, Ventures Unlimited, Inc.
Shana R. Pearson is a strategic integrated marketing and outreach leader born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She has over 15 years of experience specializing in brand development, strategic communications, outreach initiatives, and fund development for private sector, non-profit organizations and government agencies.
During her tenure at leading multi-cultural and general market advertising agencies, she served as project manager for high-profiled national brand marketing campaigns for clients such as McDonald’s, Exxon Mobil, Western Union, and JCPenney.
Shana joined The University of Chicago where she served as a Senior Associate Director in Donor Relations. In her role she assisted in the building and implementation of university-wide recognition programs, events, and communications for The University of Chicago’s successful $2.3 Billion Capital Campaign.
Currently she is the Vice President and Lead Strategist of Ventures Unlimited, Inc. an award-winning national marketing communications firm. There Shana helps to fuel the organization’s mission of “one idea can change the world.” With the Ventures team she spearheads local and national marketing and outreach programs that unite corporate business, community and faith-based organizations, government agencies and community leaders to champion the unique needs of communities.
Shana is honored to serve on the West Point School of Music (WPSOM) Board. Early in life her parents recognized the great intrinsic value music education provides. They enrolled her and her sister in orchestra and band, and sacrificed to pay for private classical piano and violin lessons. She credits this experience as the foundation for her success. Shana looks forward to helping WPSOM increase their awareness, support resources, advocacy and access to benefit thousands Chicago’s youth.
Shana Pearson received a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Sandra R. Sanders, ND
SANDRA REED SANDERS IS a proud 1967 graduate of Arts High School in Newark, NJ, who went on to gain her Bachelor’s degree from Glassboro State College (Rowan University) in 1971. She returned to Arts High School as a Spanish teacher until 1972. She attained her Master’s degree in 1973 from Montclair State University through the Graduate Assistant Program.
Sandra was a part of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program at Rutgers University. This program was designed to prepare primarily inner-city high school graduates to adapt and succeed in a college environment. While working toward a Master’s Degree in Student Services/Counseling, Sandra was able to influence young people in achieving a college education. Under the direction of the late Dr. Curtis Jackson and Reuben Johnson, the staff successfully assisted hundreds of students to succeed in achieving their college education.
As the Assistant Director for University College at Rutgers University-Newark, Dr. Sanders counseled adult students who were working during the day and attending college in the evening. In 1976 Sandra accepted a position as Human Resource Manager for The Port Authority of NY and NJ. Her responsibilities included seeking out “minority and women” entry level employees to work for this quasi-governmental organization. During her tenure, many of the current women and minority professional employees were hired. These recruits were placed in every department of the company. While working in the Aviation Department, she became aware of the Eagle Flight Squadron Training Program. This program uses the opportunity to learn to fly as a tool to teach focus and discipline to urban youth. Volunteering to be a part of this dynamic program Sandra taught “Life Skills” classes. Over 3,000 young people have been influenced by the dedicated staff of flight instructors and volunteers from the community, and she considers it a high honor to have been one of them.
Dr. Sanders has been self-employed as a Naturopath and Master Herbalist since 1989, where she consults with clients who are interested in improving their level of health. She formally received her training through Trinity College of Natural Health. She embraces the opportunity to serve on the West Point Board of Directors and remains committed to doing all within her power to help urban youth improve their quality of life.
Will Washington – Norfolk Southern Superintendent of Terminals
Will Washington is Norfolk Southern Superintendent of Terminals in Bellevue, OH. Bellevue yard is Norfolk Southern’s largest railcar classification yard – second only to UP’s Bailey Yard in North Platte, Neb. He is a 21-year NS veteran who became Superintendent at Bellevue in early 2013. Prior to this position he worked in various managment positions for NS including Assistant Superintendent in Chicago, IL and Terminal Superintendent in Jersey City, NJ. He started his railroad career with Norfolk Southern in Buffalo, NY as a freight train conductor.
Mr. Washington holds a certificate in Supply Chain Logistics from the University of Tennessee, and attended the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business for Railroad Executives. Will is also a board member and director for the American Association of Railroad Superintendents.
Camille Bell, Phd
Dr. Camille S. Bell’s 20 year career in education began in the Rochester City School District in Rochester, NY, an urban district that serves approximately 35,000 students. Initially, Dr. Bell’s experience began with 6 years of volunteering in urban middle and high schools for Junior Achievement, Business Mentor Partnerships & College Preparatory programs which ultimately served as her inspiration for leaving Corporate America to pursue a career in urban education. Upon actualizing her dream, she worked for the next 5 years as a middle and high school teacher along with serving in various school leadership roles such as the Instructional Support Specialist, PBIS Coach and a Dean of Student Discipline before becoming an administrator.
In July 2005, after accepting Montebello’s principalship, a position that she held for 6 years, Dr. Bell enthusiastically began her work an the instructional leader determined to bring their student achievement levels to the highest that they had ever been on the Maryland Schools Assessment while raising the level of accountability and daily instructional practices. She concentrated on creating a deliberate focus for children that not only targeted children needing intervention services, but accelerated learners as well. It was clear to Dr. Bell that in order for this to take place successfully, a laser focus attention needed to be placed on intensive data driven planning and instruction for each child. Moreover, her relentless refusal to accept mediocrity became interwoven in the school’s culture almost immediately and instilled into every child in the school. Hence they adopted the phrase, “Excellence is the Only Option”.
Dr. Bell is recognized for her ability to move student achievement, winning numerous awards and participating in several Roundtable discussions with national principals, facilitated professional learning opportunities for both teachers and principals and served as one of the company’s Principal Mentors. Dr. Bell has received Mayoral Citations recognizing Montebello as a School of Excellence, a City Council President Certificate of Achievement, Outstanding Leadership Recognition from Baltimore City Public School and Edison Learning’s prestigious Double 4 & Double 5 Star Awards for obtaining both academic and/or fiscal solvency along with significant recognition from the community, parents, and staff.
Dr. Bell’s experience with hiring and supervising teachers, executive coaching, leadership development managing school budgets, developing school policies/operations and most importantly, driving school achievement has laid the foundation for her work as an Academic Consultant and Executive Coach in Priority schools. Her experience and success with school turnaround and academic reform has laid her foundation for moving systems forward.
Jack Corbin Getz – Non Profit Executive – Ret.
Jack Corbin Getz is a native of Chicago. He grew up in the Austin community attending and graduated from Lane Technical High School. He later matriculated at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, College of Education.
Mr. Getz spent his early career as a public school educator in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, and also served on the faculty of the Salvation Army College for Officer Training in Chicago. Getz is a lifelong professional educator, musician, pastor and an executive level non-profit administrator. He is a published author of over fifty articles and lists a book called Praying When Prayer Doesn’t Work (iUniverse Press) among his recent achievements.
Getz is very clear about his reasons for serving on this board; “I believe in the vision the Executive Director articulates in the West Point project. I also believe those who have stability in this life must not only help those who don’t, but seek out opportunities to do so. This is a wonderful way to extend hope to many disadvantaged children who can use a good dose of it.”
Also an artist, his watercolor art passion has led to sales in a number of artistic genres. Mr. Getz lives in retirement in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Barbara of almost forty years.
Valencia Green, MD, MPH
In 2007, Dr. Green established and became the Executive Director for Healing Hands Resource Center, a non-profit organization providing primary health care, mental health services and skills training for youths and adults. Functioning under a grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health, she implemented an HIV/AIDS education and prevention curriculum in 2008 which reached over 800 participants. Presently she provides seminars on various topics including life skills, health education, and parent advocacy. She also works with youths and adults participating in ex-offender programs.
Sharon G Lundstrom, RN
Sharon G. Lundstrom was, “musically speaking”, “born In Kansas”, but grew up in Chicago. After graduating from Austin High School, Sharon completed her education at Swedish-American Hospital School of Nursing and Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois. Her work as a Registered Nurse has been family and child centered. She has worked in public schools, and hospitals and medical practices. She currently works in the field of health testing and community education for a national company.
She has served with boards for The Good Shepherd Hospital Auxiliary, The Barrington Area Registered Nurses Association; the Infant Welfare Society of Illinois and in numerous schools. Community service has been her focus for many years, with a passion for guiding young people towards productive pathways.
Andy Sturgeon, BS MSA
Mr. Sturgeon received a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign. While at the University of Illinois, he studied conducting with Joseph Manfredo, Thomas Caneva, and Pete Griffin; and trombone with Elliot Chasanov and Jim Pugh. Mr. Sturgeon was a section leader in the Marching Illini trombone section for three seasons. He also directed the Orange and Blues Athletic Band (2005-2007), which was a subset of the Marching Illini with an active performing schedule for athletic events and university functions. He received a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Concordia University.
Mr. Sturgeon is currently Band Director at Mundelein High School (Mundelein, IL). He leads two concert bands, two jazz ensembles, the Marching Mustangs, pep band, and show choir combo. Prior to his work in Mundelein, Mr. Sturgeon was Director of Bands for six years at Central Junior High School (Evergreen Park, Illinois). He taught three concert bands, a jazz band, and created their summer band program. Mr. Sturgeon has served as Assistant Marching Band Director at Wheeling High School, Wheeling, Illinois and also directed the Backstage Show Choir Combo at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
As a trombonist, Mr. Sturgeon is a member of the Northshore Concert Band under the direction of Mallory Thompson and Dan Farris. Mr. Sturgeon is an active arranger, composer, clinician, and adjudicator for several Chicagoland area high school and junior high bands. He is a guest conductor for the University of Illinois Basketball Band.