Middle School Orchestra
Michael Tompkins is the Orchestra Director at Hightower Trail Middle School and is currently in his 15th year of teaching orchestra. The orchestra received the Georgia Music Educators Exemplary Performance Award for the school year 2014-2015. The orchestra has also received invitations to play at the Governors Mansion (2014) as well as the State Capitol under his direction. Under Mr. Tompkins’ direction, the 7th and 8th grade orchestras consistently receive superior ratings at the GMEA Large Group Performance Evaluation.
Mr. Tompkins received his Bachelor of Science in Music degree from Southern Adventist University (2000), where he studied cello under Dr. James Stroud. At Southern, Mr. Tompkins served as Principal Cellist of the University Orchestra, which toured Ireland during the summer of 1998. He earned his Master of Music Education degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2002), where he studied under Dr. Wesley Baldwin. As a graduate intern, he represented the UT School of Music at the Music Educators National Conference (2002).
As a cellist, Mr. Tompkins has performed with several community and church orchestras. He has worked with numerous string camps including the Shiloh String workshop, which he founded and directed in 2007. Mr. Tompkins is also an accomplished church keyboardist, specializing in gospel music. He is currently a pianist at Shiloh SDA Church and Sunrise Baptist Church.
Mr. Tompkins and his wife, Shawnte Scott-Tompkins ( AC Social Studies teacher at Hightower Trail Middle School), live in Marietta with their 8-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, who is an aspiring cellist!
Paul O’Keefe is in his first year as Orchestra Assistant Director at Hightower Trail Middle School. Prior to teaching at Hightower Trail, Mr. O’Keefe taught for 7 years at Wheeler High School, and 3 years at Daniell Middle School. While at Wheeler, the orchestra program grew quickly and they received 1st place awards for solos and string orchestra performances in Virginia and Florida. Under Mr. O’Keefe’s direction, the 7th and 8th grade orchestras at Daniell Middle School consistently received excellent and superior ratings at GMEA Large Group Performance Evaluation.
Mr. O’Keefe received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Florida State University (1998), where he studied Violin under Professor Karen Clarke. At Florida State, Mr. O’Keefe served as Director of the Tallahassee Youth Philharmonia Orchestra. Following graduation, Mr. O’Keefe served as clinician to the Tampa Bay Youth Orchestra, and served as a violin clinician to orchestra programs throughout the Hillsborough County area in Tampa, Florida.
As a violinist, Mr. O’Keefe has performed with small ensembles and church orchestras throughout Cobb County. He performs regularly in string trios, quartets, solos, and orchestra Cantatas at Kennesaw United Methodist Church.
Mr. O’Keefe and his wife, April O’Keefe, live in Kennesaw with their 7-year-old son (Carson), two 3 year-old twins (Molly and Logan), and a small Beagle name Leela.