New choral director announced

The new choral director was announced during a meeting before school this morning in the PAC.


Jack Oxley

In a choir meeting before school this morning, Beth Richey-Sullivan was announced to be the new choral director for the 2016-17 school year.

Today was Richey-Sullivan’s first day watching the BVNW choirs and shadowing Coker. She said she was  attracted to the position because of the reputation of the BVNW choir program, and said, initially, she has been impressed by the choirs’ talents and appreciates the loving and welcoming reaction of the students.

“Blue Valley Northwest choirs are known for excellence,” Richey-Sullivan said, “and they’re doing all kinds of amazing new music, and my background from California and teaching high school, I really feel like this is a great fit.”

Murphy said the search for a new choral director after current director Kevin Coker announced his resignation involved a survey for current choir students and parents and a panel of approximately 15 choir students that discussed what they wanted in a new director.

Murphy said the applicant pool consisted of almost 30 candidates.

“Her background and her training set her apart from other candidates.””

— Principal, Amy Murphy

Most recently, Richey-Sullivan was choral conductor at Overland Trail Middle School for the 2015-2016 school year. She was also choral conductor for eight years at Hoover High School and Toll Middle School in California. Richey-Sullivan has a BA in Music Education from UMKC, where she was president of the UMKC chapter of the American Choral Director’s Association, and a Master’s degree in choral conducting from UCLA, where she conducted three choirs and was a choral activities administrative assistant. She has received the scholarship for Most Promising Educator and was recognized by the City of Los Angeles for outstanding contribution to choral music.

“I think she’ll bring an energy and a passion,” Murphy said. “It was obvious this morning when she was talking to the students that it’s about relationships, and it’s not just about music, but it’s about the students, which fits in with the philosophy of this building, so I think she’s going to be a perfect fit.”

Sophomore Ryan Sanford said he was part of the panel of students who gave input when searching for a new director. He said the biggest thing students brought up was that they wanted to keep Husky Showcase.

He said his first impression of Richey-Sullivan was that she was the first person to come into the choir room and not smile the whole time they sung.

“So that means that she’s critical, which is a good thing,” Sanford said. “I mean, she was smiling, but she was thinking, which I like. That means she’s thinking about the group she’s going to have next year, which is good.”

Richey-Sullivan said she will sit down with choir students on the first day of school next year to discuss what they love and what they want to change about the program.

“I’m here today to learn what they’re up to every day and make sure that I only build upon the amazing things that they’re already doing,” Richey-Sullivan said. “My job is just to bring them amazing music, and their job is to sing it, really well.”