Ms. Jennifer Illsley
A little about your music teacher
My name is Ms. Illsley and I am starting her 12th year teaching general music to elementary and junior high aged students. I have has also taught band for 3 years. This is my fourth year at Painted Rock Academy and she is excited to be back!
A Phoenix native, I attended school in the Paradise Valley and Deer Valley school districts, graduating from Barry Goldwater High School. From there I moved on to Glendale Community College and then transferred to Southwestern Baptist Bible College (now Arizona Christian University) to complete my undergraduate degree in music education.
I began my teaching career in the Deer Valley School District, where I taught for seven years at Sunrise Elementary School full time for 2 years. Then I spent two years traveling between Sunrise Elementary School and Mirage Elementary School. During this time I began my Master's Degree in education from Indiana Wesleyan University, which I completed in September of 2013. After that, i was offered a band and general music position at Mirage, which I did for three years.During this time I was heavily involved in the School Leadership Team as the Special Area Team Lead and worked with the team and principal to help the school be more effective including working on scheduling, budget, new teacher mentoring, and many other elements of school administration.
After seven years in Deer Valley, I decided to move on. I wanted to apply at Painted Rock Academy but didn't find out they were hiring until it was too late. I decided to keep my eyes open but was hired to work in Dysart Unified School District where I taught at El Mirage Elementary School for one year. When I heard that Painted Rock Academy was looking for a new music teacher after my first year at El Mirage I jumped at the chance to apply and am thrilled to be starting my fourth year at Painted Rock.
My parents are both musicians and I can't really say when my music journey began. I gave my first concert at the age of two and half. I began learning to play piano and read music at the age of three. In elementary school I started the flute in fourth grade and the clarinet in sixth grade. I was also involved in choir whenever possible. Once in junior high I began to pick up other instruments along with the flute, including developing an interest in percussion. By high school I was participating in marching band, concert band, and choir. I also was heavily involved in church music. College saw me attempt to major in Secondary Education with an emphasis in English but I quickly switched to Music Education. While in college I took private guitar and percussion lessons. I was even the drummer in an all girl punk band for a while. When I transferred to Southwestern I was heavily involved in choral music, including getting the chance to perform at Carnegie Hall on Easter. first doing our own concert and then with well known choral composer John Rutter. After college I continued to sing in performing groups and play in community bands as my schedule permits.
When I'm not working, I spend my free time spending time with my long-term boyfriend Alan Mitchell, a former PRA substitute teacher. I also work a couple of side jobs including doing transcription, closed captioning, and teaching private music lessons. (Please note that I cannot teach any current student privately). I am an avid reader and am partial to science fiction and fantasy but will read almost anything I can get my hands on. I love playing video games and board games. I am a huge Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Superman fan. I also write both fiction and non-fiction for my own personal enjoyment. I am also frequently found coloring, drawing, and crocheting in order to relax.
Alan Mitchell designed artwork at the top of each page. He is an artist and a former substitute teacher here at Painted Rock who generously allowed the use on her webpage.