CONTACT:  Tom Whaley                                  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

310.450.8338, ext. 338                                      24 AUG 2009



ARTS LINE UP: New Visual and Performing Arts Teachers in the Santa Monica-Malibu USD


The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is proud to announce the new arts teachers who will be joining the SMMUSD team.  These new teachers will be filling existing vacancies at school sites throughout the district. The district continues to struggle with the state budget crisis and its effect on education funding, but the commitment to maintaining strong arts programs in the district has lead to the new employees who will bring their talent, knowledge, and expertise to the students on a daily basis. Almost all the candidates that were interviewed for positions in SMMUSD commented that they were attracted to the district because of the reputation of the teachers and programs as well as the community support for arts education.


Elementary Music (strings specialist) – Deborah Cha

(School sites served: Franklin, Roosevelt, Grant, McKinley, Edison, John Muir, and Will Rogers Elementary Schools)

Deborah is an excellent violinist and her educational background consists of a Bachelor of Arts in Music degree from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL. She earned a Master of Music in Violin Performance and her teaching credential from the University of Southern California. Deborah also plays piano and is comfortable teaching violin, viola, cello, and bass. She has taught general music, choir, and middle school band and orchestra and has also had experience singing and arranging. The interview committee was impressed with her talent, natural teaching ability, classroom management, pacing, and knowledge of the subject matter. She is extremely excited to begin teaching in the Santa Monica-Malibu USD and has recently moved to Westwood with her husband.


Lincoln Middle School Orchestra Director – Anna Komandyan

Anna is an excellent violinist and her educational background consists of a BA in Music Education/Performance from Chapman University and a MA from USC in Violin Performance and Arts in Teaching. She has worked with the “Harmony Project”, which is an inner city music program offering music to students of need. She completed her practice teaching at Glendale High School and Wilson Middle School. As a violinist, she has served as concertmaster for numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles and has also taught privately for many years. She comes to SMMUSD with the highest recommendations from her colleagues, master teachers, and professors. She has an obvious passion for teaching music, especially strings and she impressed the interview committee with her talent, natural teaching ability, and knowledge of the subject matter.


Samohi Band Director – Mike Corrigan

Mike Corrigan will be the new lead band director at Samohi. Mike Corrigan is a legend in California! He is one of the most respected and beloved music educators in the state. His resume is long and filled with numerous accomplishments. He has served as President for both SCSBOA (1989-1993) and CBDA (2000-2002). He was voted Band Educator of the year for the State of California in 2002. He is the head judge for SCSBOA Field Tournament Adjudication, Legion of Honor from the John Phillip Sousa National Foundation, Honor Band Conductor for bands throughout the State and adjudicator for parade, concert, and festivals throughout the nation. His groups have consistently received superior ratings marching, parade, concert, and jazz festivals and he has conducted in Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and numerous prestigious locations in Europe. Mike started his career by teaching twenty-five years at Mater Dei High School. After Mater Dei, he taught for five years at Yosemite HS and then Clovis HS from 2000-2007. He was recruited to teach at Aliso Niguel HS in the Capistrano USD. In two years, he improved the marching band, leading them to first place in the state last year. He also consistently earned superior ratings with his concert bands. Mike was recruited to conduct the Pacific Youth Symphony Wind Ensemble in Orange County while teaching in Orange County. Mike’s educational background consists of a BA in Music from Cal State Long Beach and other credits earned from colleges and universities throughout the state. Mike even adjudicated the Samohi Band and Orchestra festival last year.  He stated the reason he wants to come to SMMUSD is because of the excellent reputation of the district’s music program and supportive community.


Samohi Theatre- Darryl Hovis

Darryl comes to SMMUSD with a vast amount of success and experience! From 1996-2007, Darryl served as the Theatre Director at Culver City High School, developing/creating the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts Academy. While teaching in Culver City, Darryl taught a wide range of classes, including Intro to Theatre, Acting, Stage Craft, History of Cinema, Directing, Film, and Video Production. In 1996, 1997, and 2000, Darryl served as the Acting Teacher/Director for Theatre International in Leysin, Switzerland, and in the summer of 1999, he served as the Acting Teacher at the South Bay Conservatory in Torrance, California. In 2007, Darryl moved closer to his family in Huntington Beach and accepted a Theatre/Vocal Music teaching position at University High School in Irvine, Ca. While at University HS, he taught various classes, including Acting, History of Cinema, madrigals, Chorale, and Advanced Theatre Production. At both schools, Darryl directed many plays, musicals, and other productions. Darryl’s educational background consists of coursework in the Theatrical Arts from Orange Coast College, South Coast Repertory Theatre, University of San Diego, BA of Arts, History from Cal State, Long Beach and a Master of Arts, and Theatre Production from Central Washington University. Darryl has served on numerous theatre boards as a board member/advocate. Darryl shared with the committee that he was drawn to Samohi because he missed his connections to this community and was excited about the quality of SMMUSD facilities and the commitment that the community has to arts education.


Samohi Ceramics – Laurie Ann Gutierrez

Laurie served as a long-term sub since January 2009. The position was opened again in the spring and Laurie was chosen out of a field of candidates as the Samohi ceramics teacher. Before coming to Samohi, Laurie taught grades 9-12 with the Leadership Public Schools in Richmond from 2005-2008, Calvin Simmons Middle School from 2004 to 2005, and she completed her student teaching at Berkeley High School in 2004. Laurie’s educational background consists of a Bachelors of Art in Fine Arts from California State University in Chico and her Single Subject Teaching Credential in Visual Arts and CLAD equivalent from San Francisco State University. Classes that Laurie has taught include Art History, Ceramics, Advanced Ceramics, Printmaking, 3 Dimensional design, and Visual Art 1 and 2. The students, administrators, and teachers at Samohi have thoroughly enjoyed working with Laurie last year.



The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District would like to thank all members of the public who participated as part of the interview committee for each of the positions listed. The candidates were impressed to have community stakeholders “at the table” to ensure that all students would be receiving the best possible arts education.





1651 16TH Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

ph: 310.450.8338; fax: 310.581.1138