Our Faculty & Staff
Joel Franken – Department Head
Joel is a National Board Certified Teacher and was among the first in the nation to receive this certification in Early Adolescence and Young Adult Art in 1996. Mr. Franken was also elected to serve on the 63 member National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in 1999 and served till his retirement from secondary art education in 2002. He has served as the Art Educators of Iowa President from 1994-96. He was selected their Secondary Educator of the Year in 1989 and their Art Educator of the Year in 1993. Franken is responsible for establishing AEI’s Visual Arts All-State Competition in which the brightest and most artistic secondary visual arts students in the state are recognized. Joel has also served as the chairperson of the Iowa Department of Education “Fine Arts” Outcomes and Assessment Committee which was established in 1992. He received his BA in Art Education from the University of Northern Iowa University and his MA in Art Education from the University of Northeast Missouri State. He was an Iowa State “Da Vinci” Scholar in 1995-1996 which was an US West initiative that created educational experiences using Visual Art teachers collaborating with Chemistry Teachers. Joel is a co-creator of the artsBASICS program. As an artist, Joel’s ceramics and paintings are in private collections in the Midwest. Joel serves on the Figge Art Museum’s Artist Advisory Committee. Joel is married to Diane and they have one daughter, Ann.
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Jessica Taylor – CAA Coordinator and Development Specialist
Jessica Taylor is a regular in the Quad Cities arts scene. She is a founding artist at the QC Theatre Workshop and a proud member of the Workshop Board and Artistic Advisory Council. Jessica has appeared in numerous shows and readings including Vanda in Venus in Fur, Molly in Peter and the Starcatcher, Madeline Morton in Inheritors, Li’l Bit in How I Learned to Drive and Sylvia in Tribes. She has originated roles in numerous world premiere productions including Alyssa in Broken, Mom/Counselor in A Green River and Suzanne/Young Coco in Creme de Coco directed by Broadway director Philip Wm. McKinley (Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, The Boy from Oz.) Jess can be seen onscreen in A Cadaver Christmas, Call Me Crazy, Amelia 2.0, and Sons and Daughters of Thunder. Jessica is a Davenport native graduating from Davenport North High School. She received Bachelor’s degrees in Radio/TV Production and Journalism from St. Ambrose University where she also minored in Theatre.
Email Jess at firstname.lastname@example.org
Clint Balsar – Visual & Communication/Media Arts
Clint has been a visual art educator for 21 years. Sixteen of those have been with the Davenport Schools; 5 at Monroe Elementary and 11 at Central High School. He has also taught Digital Photography at Scott Community College for 4 years. During his time at Central, he has helped several students achieve national awards. One of his students received the Best Manipulated Photo in the Portraits of Learning contest sponsored by Tech & Learning magazine. Another student that he instructed received 1st place in the Annual Congressional Art Competition for the First Congressional District of Iowa and had his work displayed in the Madison Cannon Tunnel in Washington, DC. Several of his students have also gone on to prestigious arts schools including the Kansas City Art Institute, Savannah College of Art and Design, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, and Full Sail University. He was recently selected for the 2014 Educators ArtLab to study animation at the Kansas City Art Institute. Clint is an Adobe Certified Expert in both Adobe Photoshop CC and Adobe Premiere Pro CC. He is also an Adobe Certified Instructor in Adobe Photoshop CC, and has recently become the Adobe Campus Leader for the Creative Arts Academy of the Quad Cities. In addition, he is also recognized as a Certified Journalism Educator by the Journalism Education Association and has judged several state and national competitions. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Art Education from Iowa State University and his Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning with Technology from Ashford University. Clint is a member of the National Art Association, the Iowa State Education Association, Art Educators of Iowa and the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education. Additional memberships include the Figge Art Museum, National Association of Photoshop Professionals, Adobe Education Exchange and ArtsBASICS. He also owns and operates Balsar Photography and Design. His photography has been displayed and received awards at both the local and national levels. Mr. Balsar has also produced a full-size bronze sculpture located at Neil Armstrong Elementary School in Park View, Iowa. He is married to Ticia and has a daughter, Jordan and a son, Charlie.
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Colleen Mccarty-Tomlinson, Communication/Media Arts
Colleen previously taught at Rivermont Collegiate as the k-12 art teacher. There, she observed how significant relationships with parents/guardians, the school community and the larger community are to cultivating an empowering and meaningful education for students. Student art awards included Scholastic Art Awards, Quad City Arts Annual High School Invitational, Festival of Trees High School Art Exhibit, Youth Art Month: Governor’s Award- honored by Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, PBS Kids: Writers Contest, Federal Jr. Duck Stamp Contest, Graffiti for Good, and the Midcoast High School Pastel Expo. Colleen received her B.A. at Augustana College and Teaching Certification in Art Education at the University of Iowa. She serves on the Iowa Department of Education’s Fine Arts Standards Adoption Team and is presently working with fine arts educators to adopt National Core Arts Standards for state of Iowa and create companion material to benefit art educators. She is a member of the National Art Education Association (NAEA), Art Educators of Iowa (AEI), and Iowa Alliance for Arts Education (IAAE) member devoted to her professional development as a teaching artist and art education advocate. Colleen continues to work on her personal artwork and is currently collaborating with The Heritage, Elderly, Disabled or Handicapped apartment tenants to create a permanent mural to beautify their outdoor space on 3rd Street in Davenport. When she is not creating or teaching, she is spending time with my husband and 7 month old son and love to be outdoors.
“I am excited to share my passion for community collaboration with our CAA students this year. I am already learning so much about our partnerships and the potential of project-based learning opportunities.”
Email Colleen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ron May – Music Division Teacher
Ron May has been a music educator serving the Quad Cities for 40 years. After graduating from Augustana College with a BME in choral/vocal music education, he has served as a choral director for high schools in Moline (IL), Davenport (IA), and North Scott (IA) schools. He has a Master Degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Iowa where he has also completed the coursework for a Doctoral Degree in Conducting. Through his leadership, his high school ensembles have performed in several exceptional venues including a performance for the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Midwest Convention, an appearance on the NBC “Today Show”, several performances in Carnegie Hall through MidAmerica Productions, and a unique opportunity in Washington DC as a state representative for the bi-centennial of the White House. His ensembles have toured Europe several times and many of his students have gone on to careers in music as educators, professional singers, and conductors. As a conductor, he has guest directed numerous district and regional high school choral festivals including the Illinois All State Chorus. He has served as President of District II in the Illinois Music Educators Association (ILMEA, )and has served on the board of directors for ILMEA and the Illinois chapter of the ACDA as well as an advisor for the Illinois High School Association. He was honored as outstanding music educator by the National Federation of High School Associations. He has sung professionally as guest soloist with the Rochester Symphony Orchestra (MN) and was selected by national audition to be a participant in the Carnegie Hall Choral Institute to sing Verdi’s “Requiem” in New York City conducted by Robert Shaw. In addition to music education, May is a well-known church musician and currently serves as organist and choirmaster for Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Davenport, Iowa. He will join 40 other singers from the US in December to sing in London’s Westminster Abbey for a week of choral Evensongs representing the American division of the Royal School of Church Musicians. He is the co-founder of Opera Quad Cities and has conducted many of its performances (Cosi fan tutte, Carmen, La Boheme, and Rigoletto). He has also served as music director for several professional musical theatre productions at Circa 21 Dinner Playhouse(Fiddler on the Roof, Legally Blonde, Hairspray, and Whodunit-the Musical, among others). His musical theatre students have performed on Broadway (Fantasticks, Miss Saigon, The Full Monty, The Drowsy Chaperone)as well as many regional productions and national tours. He is married to Cindy, a freelance choreographer, and they have two grown children, Tyson and Briony.
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Elizabeth Weimer, Music
Elizabeth Weimer has been a music educator since 1983. She grew up in San Antonio, Texas where her love of music was ignited in her middle and high school band programs. She graduated from Texas State University (San Marcos, Texas) with a BM degree in Music Education (All-Level), and started her first job teaching high school band in Austin, Texas. She then moved to Mississippi with her husband and received a Master of Music degree in Clarinet Performance from the University of Mississippi. Upon a move to Memphis, Tennessee, she maintained a large clarinet studio and taught K-5 General Music. Next came Jackson, Tennessee where she taught middle school band and K-5 General Music. While in Tennessee, Mrs. Weimer served on the committee to revise the state’s curriculum for Grades 6-8 Instrumental Music, and was a “Top 25” nominee in 2008 for the Jefferson Award for Public Service sponsored by the Jackson Sun newspaper, in recognition for her work in music education.
As a conductor, Mrs. Weimer was the Assistant Conductor of the Germantown Symphony (Tennessee) which is an adult community orchestra, and she served as the conductor of the Rhodes College Orchestra in Memphis. While living in Jackson, she was named the conductor of The Jackson Symphony Youth Orchestra and served as a guest conductor for the Jackson Symphonic Winds.
As a professional clarinetist, Mrs. Weimer has played with the Memphis Symphony, Opera Memphis, Theater Memphis, The Germantown Symphony, The Jackson Symphony, and Tupelo (Mississippi) Symphony, as well as being an active musician in area churches and ensembles.
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Alex McCarthy, Theatre
Alex McCarthy was born in Dubuque, Iowa. He graduated from Dubuque Senior High school and Loras College. He was the Managing Director of Trainwreck Productions in Dubuque from 2009-2014. Alex came to Davenport in 2014 to join the staff at Sudlow Intermediate. He started the Drama Club there and has directed two productions. He has worked with Davenport Junior Theatre, Prenzie Players, and Genesius Guild in Davenport. He also has a background in playwriting and two of his original plays have been produced.
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Nicholas DiGioia, Visual Arts
Nick DiGioia began his teaching career in 1976 at Alleman High School in Rock Island. He has been a teacher at both Moline and Bettendorf High School as well as Blackhawk College and St. Ambrose University. He won the Harley Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award and a Master Teachers Award. He is a freelance artist including police sketch artist, wedding artist, portraits artist, book illustrator, logo artist, sculptor, potter, teacher (workshops), lecturer, and jeweler. A point of pride for Nick is that his students have received $6 million in art scholarships.
“Teaching the way we see life is an important part of my art lessons. Beauty is everywhere. There are beautiful values, colors, and patterns all around us and unlimited ways to capture them. Creating since childhood and teaching Art since 21, life has been filled with a wonderful, creative world of art. Art has given me a way to look at life and has kept me smiling. It has helped me through tough times and has brought me joyous times.”
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Heidi Hernandez, Visual Arts
Dane Moulton – STEAM (Sudlow)
Tracy Sandon – Heritage (Sudlow)
Natasha Waite – Heritage (Sudlow)
Erin Gehret – STEAM (Sudlow)
Andrea Smith- Heritage (Sudlow)
Renee Ott – Visual Art (Central)