Meet Our Instructors for 2022!

Andy Buckman, JAMs Instructor

Andy has played Old Time banjo and sung in church choirs since childhood. He has performed at countless dances and fiddlers’ conventions in SW Virginia, he has recorded with local musicians including Mac Traynham, the Reed Island Rounders, and the Wolfe Brothers, and he has taught numerous classes and workshops. His music is rooted in the playing of Wade Ward, Abe Horton, Glen Smith, Matoke Slaughter, the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers, and Harold
Hausenfluck. Andy teaches both fretted and fretless banjo in traditional Blue Ridge clawhammer and thumb lead styles. He holds Bachelors and Masters degrees and he recently retired from
Franklin County Public Schools after a long career teaching US History and Political Science.

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Ashlee Watkins, BRS Enrichment Instructor

Ashlee Watkins is the enrichment teacher in the Blue Ridge Strings program. Having grown up in a musical family in New South Wales, Australia, Ashlee is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter whose powerfully unadorned vocals exhibit a refreshing directness of expression reminiscent of Maybelle Carter, Molly O’Day, and Hazel Dickens. She has been awarded a number of blue ribbons from fiddlers’ conventions around the Southeast for her folk singing and old-time banjo and guitar playing, and in 2022, she completed a Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship with Floyd County master musician Mac Traynham. Ashlee has an enthusiastic appreciation for many kinds of music that she loves sharing with others!

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Chesley Mercado, Little Ear Worms Instructor

Chesley Sigmon Mercado, Ed.D., MT-BC has many years experience sharing music with people both young and old. She was department chair and professor of music therapy at Georgia College & State University for the past 19 years. Her primary instruments are flute, fiddle, guitar and piano. She is passionate about sharing music with others and the friendships that form , the joy it brings, and the learning that takes place in a non-threatening fun environment. Chesley recently moved here with her dog Bella to be closer to her family who are long-time residents of Floyd County.

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Elizabeth Linkous, Blue Ridge Strings Instructor

Elizabeth has been involved with many music organizations in the area, including Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Blacksburg String Quartet and Ensemble, St. John's Music on the Corner, Piedmont Suzuki Ensemble, and CelloFest of Blacksburg. She was a big help in getting the Blue Ridge Strings program started at The June Bug Center, and has been a great asset to this community and students. She is also trained in the Suzuki Method.

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Emily Gruver, Musical Theatre Instructor

Emily received a Bachelor of Arts in both Communications (Media Production) and Theatre. Before working at The June Bug Center, she worked as a video producer at Citizens Cooperative and a News Producer at WDBJ7. She is also co-founder of The Floyd Community Theatre Guild, which is part of The June Bug Center and has directed many of the young actors' productions such as Frozen, Big Bad Musical, Oz the Musical, and many others.

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Mac Traynham, JAMs Instructor

Mac is a master musician that has been a part of the community for years, and has been with the Floyd JAMS program since the beginning. Mac is the owner of custom cabinets, banjos and more since the 1970’s. Through his love for native old-time music for the region, Mac has become a nationally known musician with much to his credit as a player and a teacher of traditional mountain music. 

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Paul Tremblett, Computer & Robotics Instructor

Paul has worked for 25 years in the telecommunications industry. He spent a couple of years writing software for the television advertising industry and then left there and worked for Vonage. After he and his wife moved to Floyd in 2007, he worked at the corporate research center at Virginia Tech for seven years, and then worked three more years from home for a company in Canada. He is the author of three books that have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, and Spanish and that deal with computer programming and software development. He has written numerous articles for technical publications.

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Resa Mattson, Improv & Acting Up Instructor

Resa is our Programming Coordinator as well as the Improv instructor. She has always had a soft spot for improv as it is her favorite part of theatre. She has been an assistant as well as an instructor for theatre for over 2 years. She enjoys playing the improv and theater games with the students, helping them use their wacky creativeness to create something they can enjoy. 

Shannon holds a PhD degree in Education with a focus in Curriculum and Instruction.  Shannon has been involved in the areas of health and wellness for over twenty years. She has taught classes in the areas of health and fitness at many local colleges and is also a certified yoga instructor and has a background teaching dance specializing in ballroom styles.   She is responsible for the day to day operations of the center and supervision of the programs, staff and instructors.  Shannon has dedicated her life to teaching and education and she believes the arts help shape our individuality and identity thus transcending our divisions and celebrating our differences. 

Shannon Hardwicke, Healthy Kids & Healthy Teens Instructor

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Valerie Moran, Acting Out! & Lego Instructor

Valerie Moran is our lead teacher for the Acting Out program. Valerie has volunteered for many years at The June Bug Center and has been a big part of bringing theatre to young, aspiring actors in our community. She helped start our Acting Out program and is excited to keep our young actors growing!