Michael Stringer is the Director of Orchestras at Martin High School in Arlington, Texas. He began his musical training at age 10 in Mesquite, Texas where he studied violin in his school’s orchestra. After studying violin and trumpet throughout high school and college, Mr. Stringer graduated in 2000 from of The University of Texas at Arlington with a Bachelor of Music degree.
Mr. Stringer has taught at Martin High School since 2006, his orchestras have consistently won UIL Sweepstakes Awards and have been presented numerous Best in Class Awards by festivals across the nation. Under his direction, the Martin High School Symphony Orchestra has been a finalist of the TMEA Honor Orchestra Competition eleven times, placing in the Full Orchestra Contest as 1st Runner Up in 2014 and 2nd Runner Up in 2009 and in the String Orchestra Contest as 2nd Runner Up in 2012, 2011, and 2010. In the 2014-2015 school year the Martin High School Symphony Orchestra was named the TMEA High School String Honor Orchestra. Mr. Stringer was presented the AWARE Award for Educational Excellence in 2014 by the Arlington AWARE Foundation.
Mr. Stringer currently serves as the TMEA Region V President. During the summers, he is on staff at The University of Texas at Arlington Summer Strings Camp and The Sam Houston State University Orchestra Camp. He holds memberships in the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Music Adjudicators Association, Mu Omicron and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
Michael has a wonderful wife, Sara, and two children, Matthew and Kari. In his spare time, he enjoys attending all of Matthew’s sporting and violin events, playing golf, choir practice and wrestling with his dog, Sally.
Jamie Ovalle is an Associate Director of Orchestras at Martin High School in Arlington, Texas. She began her music endeavors in AISD with cello as her primary instrument. She was active in the Cedar Hill High School A Cappella and Jazz choirs in addition to performing with the Greater Fort Worth Youth Orchestra throughout her high school career. Mrs. Ovalle graduated from Texas Christian University in 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree of Music Education. While at TCU, she studied cello under Dr. Jesus Castro-Balbi and performed with the TCU symphony under Dr. German Gutierrez.
This is Mrs. Ovalle’s third year at Martin High School. Prior to being at Martin High School, Mrs. Ovalle spent one year teaching at two middle schools in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in Houston, Texas. She then spent three years in Fort Worth ISD as the sole orchestra director for a middle school and high school. Under her direction, these programs tripled in size and were able to earn their first Sweepstakes ratings at contest in recent school history. She has served as Orchestra Division Chair for Region VII and holds an active membership in the Texas Music Educators Association and the Texas Orchestra Directors Association.
Mrs. Ovalle has an incredible husband, Dallas, and a beautiful daughter, Landry Belle (born July 2014). When she is not teaching orchestra, she enjoys spending time with Landry and her husband, church activities, cooking and watching sports.
Sammy Branch is an Associate Director of Orchestras at Martin High School in Arlington, Texas. Since 2006 he has also been the conductor of the String Orchestra at the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra. Prior to his position at Martin he served as the Head Orchestra Director at Gunn Junior High School in Arlington, Texas for 13 years. He is a product of the Arlington ISD from Martin High School, then under the direction or Mr. Bill Huff.
Mr. Branch is a graduate of TCU with Departmental Honors, where he earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree Cum Laude, with violin as his primary instrument. He studied conducting under the direction of Dr. Germán Gutiérrez and violin under the direction of Dr. Curt Thompson. Mr. Branch began his teaching career in 2001, and his groups consistently receive Sweepstakes ratings at UIL music contests and superior ratings at spring festivals. Three times at different festivals his groups have earned Best in Class and Grand Champion awards.
Mr. Branch is also an active member of the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, and Mu Phi Epsilon. He is also on staff at The University of Texas at Arlington Summer Strings Camp and the Sam Houston State University Orchestra Summer Camp.
Fluent in Spanish, Mr. Branch was born in Mexico City, Mexico and immigrated to the United States at the age of 5 and began studying violin at the age of 10. When not conducting or teaching, Mr. Branch enjoys golf, road biking, and spending time with his family.
**Directors photos courtesy of Terry Ip Photography.