Skip to main content


December, 17, 2021
02:00 PM - 03:00 PM


W 176


Susan Smith

Susan Smith
Jacob Kohut

Jacob Kohut
Steve Graves

Steve Graves

The Professional Balancing Act: Teaching Effectively With a Side Hustle

Clinic Synopsis:

The Professional Balancing Act: Teaching Effectively with a Side Hustle. Finding ways to relieve stress, combat teacher fatigue and avoid burnout are leading more and more educators to explore additional hobbies and side gigs. The panelists will discuss the details of their specific entrepreneurial experiences and the connection to personal and teaching success. Strategies will be presented to sustain teaching careers and re-ignition that comes with an outside hobby or business.

Susan Smith - Biographical Information

Susan L. Smith, has taught general, choral, and instrumental music at all levels in Florida, Virginia and Alabama and has served as an author, clinician, conductor, and adjudicator across the United States. She is currently Lecturer in Music Education and Horn at Troy University, a Past President of the Alabama Music Educators Association and the current Chair of the NAfME Collegiate Advisory Council. Previously, she was Director of Bands at the Saint James School in Montgomery AL. Mrs. Smith was responsible for teaching the Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Bands as well as Guitar, Jazz Band, and Music Technology. The Saint James Band consistently received Superior ratings in Concert, Jazz and Marching Band events including the Alabama Music Performance Assessment, Smokey Mountain Music Festival and Bands of America Super Regionals and Grand National Championships.  Susan is on the Music for All Summer Symposium Faculty, presenting clinics each summer and serves as an educational consultant for Music for All, coordinating the Chamber Music portion of the MFA National Festival. As well, she is an Executive Producer for the Mind the Gap Webinar and Podcast. She currently resides in Troy, Alabama with her husband Robert and they have 2 daughters - Savannah is a 5th year Band Director in Fayette County, GA. and Madison is a General Music Teacher in Lowndes County, GA.

Jacob Kohut - Biographical Information

Jacob Kohut holds degrees in music from Principia College (B.A., 2008) and music composition from George Mason University (M.M., 2011, D.M.A., 2016). He also received a teaching license from GMU in 2010. His doctoral dissertation was a structural and harmonic analysis of John Adams’s Chamber Symphony. Dr. Kohut currently teaches elementary band in Fairfax County, VA. He is an 12-year member of the 257th Army Band of the D.C. National Guard. Dr. Kohut also teaches bassoon and saxophone in his private studio.As an educator, Dr. Kohut strives to have inclusive classrooms where all students are engaged and welcomed. He has composed several concert-length pieces of music for his band students that include parts for a wide variety of learners. He now has over 50 compositions, which have been played throughout the DC region.As a member of the D.C. National Guard, Jacob Kohut holds the rank of sergeant. SGT Kohut has performed in Jamaica and the Virgin Islands for notables including Michelle Obama, National Security Advisor, H. R. McMaster, and Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Frank Grass.Jacob Kohut lives in Burke, VA with his wife, Meredith and 3-year old son, Ian. Meredith is an orchestra director at Centreville High School. Ian is a future musician, yet to choose between band and strings.

Steve Graves - Biographical Information

Having spent 35 years teaching middle school band, Steve Graves is currently in his 20th year as the band director at Lexington Junior High School in Cypress, CA.  An active adjudicator and clinician for concert band, marching bands and percussion, and indoor percussion since 1987, Steve has also been arranging and designing for over 40 years. An adjudicator for the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association since 1989, he has been awarded the “Outstanding Adjudicator”, “Veteran Teacher”, and most recently “Outstanding Middle School Educator” awards by that association and is also a frequent clinician at their annual conference and judges training seminars. He has also served as an adjudicator in Colorado, Kentucky, and Alabama. A multi-time recipient of the “Teacher of the Year” and PTSA “Honorary Service” awards, Steve was named an Orange County “Arts Educator of the Year” in 2018. His books, “Drums, Keyboards, and More!” and “Great Beginnings; warm ups for second year band” and several works for young band are available at JW Pepper, and are currently in use throughout the country and abroad.Once employed as a musician at Disneyland for sixteen years, he continues to be active as a percussionist with local community bands and several other regularly gigging groups. He enjoys running, cooking, performing, and anything at the beach.Mr. Graves holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from California State University, Long Beach, and a Master of Arts degree in Band Conducting from the American Band College at Sam Houston State University.    

Jerell Horton - Biographical Information

Jerell Horton Jerell Horton has been the band director at Vestavia Hills since 2006. He is a graduate of Samford University. Prior to his appointment at Vestavia Hills High School, he served as assistant director at Pizitz Middle School and Vestavia Hills High School. While at Vestavia Hills, the bands have consistently earned superior rating at District and state concert band festivals as well as the ABDA festival, the Vestavia Hills Wind Ensemble performed at the 2011 Alabama Music Educators Conference, and the National Concert Band Festival in 2013. The Vestavia Hills High School Rebel Marching Band performed in the 2010 London New Year’s Day Parade in London, England. The National Band Association recently awarded the National Program of Excellence Southern Division Blue Ribbon Award to the Vestavia Hills High School band. Mr. Horton has served as an honor band clinician within the states of Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. He is also on staff for the Auburn Summer Marching and Leadership camp and volunteers his service to the Music For All Summer Symposium. Mr. Horton a National Board Certified teacher and was recently named to SBO magazine’s list of 50 Directors Who Make a Difference. Mr. Horton was honored to serve on 2017 Music for All Tournament of Roses teaching staff. He is married to Monica Horton (also an educator) and they have 4 children

Savannah Cole - Biographical Information

Savannah Cole is the Band Director at Bennetts Mill Middle School in Fayatte County GA. Previously she was the band director at Jacksonville High School in Jacksonville, Alabama consistently earning Superior ratings at Concert and Marching Festivals. She earned her music education degree from the University of Alabama in 2017. While attending college, she marched for five years in the Million Dollar Band and served three years as a drum major. Savannah is married to Will Cole, who is attending Troy University earning his masters degree in Music Education.