Meet Our Instructors for 2023!
Andrew Small, JAM Instructor
Currently serving as the Artist-In-Residence for the Crooked Road - Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, Andrew Small is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and composer who holds a master’s degree in music performance from Yale University. He has performed around the world with artists including Sierra Hull, Mandolin Orange, and the North Carolina Symphony, and he performs in the house band for the PBS television show Farm and Fun Time as a member of Bill and the Belles. Andrew’s original music has been featured on recordings, podcasts, and the PBS documentary film, Rock Castle Home, and he was awarded first prize in the bluegrass category at MerleFest’s 29th Annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. An avid performer and proponent of traditional music styles from the Blue Ridge region, Andrew’s old time string band The Alum Ridge Boys & Ashlee won first place at the 85th Annual Old Fiddlers' Convention in Galax, VA and he performs old time, bluegrass, and country music in the duo Ashlee Watkins & Andrew Small
Andy Buckman, JAM 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.
Ashlee Watkins, JAM Instructor
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!
Chesley Mercado, Little Ear Worms Instructor and BRS Enrichment
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.
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.
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.
George Slusher, JAM Instructor
I was born and raised in Floyd County in a musical family. My parents played and sang traditional old-time and gospel music along with many relatives and friends. I was fortunate to have access from an early age to a variety of musical instruments, namely the harmonica, autoharp, ukulele, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle. At the age of 11 I started playing trumpet in the school band which provided me with a foundation of music theory and taught me to read a musical chart. That same year I began learning the guitar, getting the chords from a Mel Bay instruction book and rhythm techniques from watching my parents and other guitarists during the frequent music gatherings. Over the years I have been fortunate to play in a number of bands in different music genres and develop some facility on guitar, mandolin, and banjo. My goal with the JAM’s program is to help students learn in much the same way that I did, by learning in a group setting and by watching and listening to other musicians to see how all the pieces fit together.
Gina Dilg, JAM Instructor
Gina has been steeped in the traditions of the music from the Southwest to the Southern
Appalachians since she was a young child. Raised in a family of musicians, she developed an affection
for the bright, energetic music of these traditions.
Jason Dilg, JAM Instructor
Jason is a multi-instrumentalist singer, instructor, and respected interpreter of Appalachian dance tunes and ballads who loves sharing and teaching music with people of all ages. He's played banjo in the winning band in the renowned contest at the national Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifttop W.V.; he took first in banjo and third in fiddle the Fiddles and Folklife Festival at Warren Wilson College; and played guitar behind the Freighthoppers' fiddler David Bass in the first-place old time band at the Tazewell County Fiddlers Convention. He was a member of Colorado's favorite old-time band High on the Hog for four years, and served as an adjunct faculty banjo instructor for Naropa University. Since moving to Radford in 2017, he has won even more ribbons at the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention and many others along the Southeastern fiddler's convention circuit on banjo, mandolin, guitar, and singing as part of Trish Fore's Blue Ridge Wildcats and as a duo with his wife, Gina.
Jordan Thompson, Intermediate Ballet Instructor
Jordan Thompson began her training at Vostrikov’s Academy of Ballet in Winchester, VA from ages 3-17. She studied Vaganova classical ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical, and modern. She has performed lead roles with VAB and Virginia Youth Ballet such as The Witch in Hansel and Gretel, Clara, Arabian Queen, Dew Drop, and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker among many other roles. She was able to share her love of dance as a teacher from 2016 to 2018 at TAP ETC! in Front Royal, VA, where she taught advanced ballet, pointe, and jazz. As an instructor, Jordan's teaching philosophy centers around fostering a nurturing and inclusive environment for all learners. Her studio welcomes students of all abilities and experiences, with a focus on cultivating a deep sense of joy and appreciation for the art of dance.
Lydean Spangler, STEAM Assistant
I have been programming for 40 years: first on a very simple computer in my parent’s home and then studying computer science in college. One of my first jobs was to find a way to transfer large amounts of data from one application running on one machine to many applications running on the same machine, but also to 4 other computers. For the last 25 years, it has been put to use building aircraft simulators – using real aircraft cockpits. Watching students create projects using logic, programming and hardware is truly wonderful!
Mac Traynham, JAM 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.
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.
Resa Mattson, Teen Theatre Instructor
Resa is our Programming Coordinator as well as the Improv/Playwriting, Musical Theatre, and Drama Society 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 5 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, Health & Wellness Instructor
Sophie Moeckel, JAM Instructor
Sophie Moeckel grew up surrounded by music in the Blue Ridge mountains. She fell in love with the
community aspect of old time music as a Floyd JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) student, where she
later taught fiddle and dance and served as assistant director. She is passionate about passing along
Appalachian music and dance traditions. She loves sharing the joy of music by playing for dancers at the
Friday Night Jamboree at The Floyd Country Store, jamming and dancing with friends, and most of all
teaching and inspiring young people. Sophie has extensive experience teaching music and working with
children both in classroom and after-school settings. Sophie is currently pursuing studies in
Environmental Education, Craft, and Traditional Music at Warren Wilson College and plays with the
Southeastern Western North Carolina Ramblers.
Theda Anderson, Broadway for Kids Instructor
Theda McCutchan Anderson is a Floyd native who loves the performing arts! She was active in theater and dance throughout high school and college and has participated in community theater off and on over the past two decades. An avid fan of both Disney and classic Hollywood musicals, Theda hoped to encourage a similar love in her three children by enrolling them in classes at the JuneBug Center when they were young. The whole family now takes classes and volunteers after school and during the summers. Theda hopes to help the next group of Floyd youngsters discover an appreciation for theater by instructing the Broadway for Kids class. Additionally, Theda enjoys reading, specialty coffee, planning trips (and then taking them!) and coaching the Floyd County High School Forensics (public speaking) team.