About the Directors

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Ms. Helai Karim…

is a graduate of James Madison University with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education. From Fairfax, Virginia, Ms. Karim discovered her love of choral music at Robinson Secondary School, under the direction of Michael Horanski. Ms. Karim also recently student taught in Fairfax County at Liberty Middle School and Annandale High School.

During her time at James Madison, Ms. Karim sang in the Madison Singers and the Masterworks Chorale. She has been fortunate to study under the choral direction of Dr. Jo-Anne van der Vat-Chromy and Dr. Bryce Hayes. Ms. Karim has worked with various choirs, including the Shenandoah Valley Children's Choir and the Children's Chorus of Washington. In 2016, Ms. Karim had the privilege of winning the James Madison ACDA Collegiate Conducting Competition.

When Ms. Karim isn't singing, she enjoys learning how to DJ, discovering new Bed and Breakfasts throughout Virginia, and keeping up with her favorite sports teams. Ms. Karim is beyond excited to be a charter member of Willard's Music Department and make music with her students!

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Ms. Annalise Sears…

is a music educator, conductor, performer, and has recently completed her Bachelor's of Music in Music Education at James Madison University. Her passion for the arts began early in life which inspired her to pursue a degree in Vocal Music Education. Ms. Sears has just completed her student teaching in Prince William County at the secondary level.

Ms. Sears' love for music started in choirs throughout her public-school years. At that time, she also received private piano and voice lessons, in addition to independently exploring guitar and ukulele. She has always wanted to teach music! Ms. Sears wishes to present music in a way that encourages and supports students to be lifelong learners and musicians, as well as encourage creativity and self-expression in learners of all ages.

In her free time she enjoys practicing yoga, and spending time with family. Ms. Sears is honored and ecstatic to be teaching at Willard in the Fall!