Directors

Craig Needham (BHS Director)

needham-headshotMr. Needham has been involved with orchestral music since he held his first cello at the age of nine.  A two-time All-State orchestra member and graduate of Caprock High School in Amarillo, Texas, Mr. Needham went on to graduate with honors from the University of North Texas with a Bachelors in Music Education.

After student teaching with Sharon Veazey in Denton, Tx, Mr. Needham went on to teach at Westwood Jr High in Richardson, Clark High School in Plano, Amarillo High School, and currently as the Head Orchestra director at Berkner High School.  An avid performer, Mr. Needham has performed with 9 different professional symphony orchestras, most recently as a member of the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra.  As a chamber musician, he has been associated with the Vienna Conspiracy String Quartet for 15 years.  In the summer, Mr. Needham teaches at the Texas Tech Band and Orchestra camp.

While in the Dallas area, Mr. Needham has served as the assistant conductor for the New Conservatory of Dallas.  Mr. Needham’s groups have consistently won top honors at UIL contest, the Myerson Orchestra Festival, Sandy Lake Orchestra Festival, Greater Southwest Music Festival, and at numerous other festivals.  The AHS “Sandie Orchestra” was recognized as the Grand Champion orchestra at Musicfest Orlando and in 2004, they toured Hawaii.  The Berkner High School Symphony Orchestra was selected as the 2006-2007 TMEA String Honor Orchestra.

In 2003, Mr. Needham was awarded the Marjorie Keller Young Teacher Award, given to him by the Texas chapter of the American String Teachers Association.  In 2009, Mr. Needham was selected to be the Star Teacher of the Year for Richardson ISD.  Mr. Needham has served in leadership capacities as TMEA Region Chair, UIL Sight Reading committee, president of the Amarillo Youth Symphony board, TMEA Honor Orchestra Committee, and the UIL Music Advisory Committee.  Mr. Needham is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, the Texas Music Adjudicators Association, and Mu Omicron.  Mr. Needham is a Past President of the Texas Orchestra Directors Association having organized the 2011 50th Anniversary TODA Convention.  Mr. Needham is also on the UIL Prescribed Music List Committee and is currently the Orchestra Division Vice-President for the Texas Music Educators Association.  When he is not teaching, Mr. Needham enjoys playing golf, running, mountain biking, traveling, and spending time with his wife, Susan, and his two daughters, Kayla and Sydney.

Lynne Thornton (BHS Director)

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Lynne Thornton has been a music educator in the Dallas area for over 25 years. Having grown up in Pasadena, Texas, Mrs. Thornton moved to North Texas in 1980 and earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education from the University of North Texas. Her teaching career has included orchestra positions in the Richardson, Denton, Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Plano, and Allen school districts. Under Mrs. Thornton’s direction, the Strickland Junior High School Orchestra of Denton was selected as the winner of the 1989 TMEA Junior High Honor Orchestra Competition.

From 2004  to 2013 Mrs. Thornton held the position of head orchestra director at Apollo Junior High. Under her leadership, the Apollo Junior High Full Symphony Orchestra was selected to perform at the TMEA Convention in San Antonio in 2008. From the fall of 2013 to the present she has been an assistant orchestra director at Berkner High School where she teaches the Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mrs. Thornton is an active member of Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, and Texas Music Adjudicators Association. She has judged festivals and UIL contests throughout Texas, and has been a guest conductor for several region orchestras in the state. In the fall of 2010 Mrs. Thornton was excited to learn that a music education scholarship at UNT has been established in her honor through a planned gift.

Besides teaching strings, Mrs. Thornton has also directed church choirs and taught early childhood music classes. She resides in Richardson with her husband, John, and their two cats. She and John are the proud parents of two young adult sons, Patrick and Thomas. During time off from school and work the Thornton family enjoys spending time together at the beach.

Kathryn Sabrsula (BHS Director)

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Kathryn Sabrsula is a native of Austin, Texas and proud to begin her third year of teaching at Berkner High School. Originally a horn player for fourteen years, Ms. Sabrsula discovered her love for orchestra through playing in symphony orchestras beginning at a young age. Ms. Sabrsula taught previously at Permian High School after earning her Bachelor’s of Music Degree graduating Summa Cum Laude from The University of Texas at Arlington in 2015.

 

Ashley Johnson (Apollo Director)

Ms. Ashley Johnson, born in Arlington, TX, recently graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Music Education. She began studying the violin privately at age seven with Emily Goodyear Klophaus and continued her music studies throughout junior high and high school participating in orchestra, choir , show choir, and musicals. Ms. Johnson was inspired to pursue a career in music education by her Arlington High School orchestra director, Ms. Linda Keefer and choir director, Mrs. Dinah Menger. While at Baylor University, Ms. Johnson played violin in the Baylor Symphony Orchestra and was a member of Dr. Eka Gogichashvili’s violin studio. She was a private violin and viola teacher in Midway ISD  and Waco ISD and taught in the Baylor University String Project for four years. Ms. Johnson recently did her student teaching at Berkner High School with Craig Needham and is looking so forward to officially making Berkner Orchestra her home! Ms. Johnson performs with her quartet at weddings and is a member of the Park Cities Baptist Church Sanctuary Orchestra. She is also a member of  the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, The National Association for Music Education, and Chi Omega National Fraternity. When she is not teaching, Ms. Johnson enjoys spending time with her four siblings, precious niece and nephew, friends, working out, babysitting, and being a professional bridesmaid for all of her Baylor Chi Omega sorority sisters getting married.

Aaron Fryklund (Liberty Head Director)

FryklundheadshotMr. Aaron Fryklund grew up in Edmond, Oklahoma. He began piano lessons at age 9 and joined orchestra as a violinist in the 6th grade. He made a hobby of learning new instruments and during middle school and high school learned to play all string orchestra instruments in addition to guitar, bass guitar, drums, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, trumpet, hammer dulcimer, and clarinet. He was in a number of bands including blues, funk, jazz, folk, and bluegrass groups.

 

He studied music composition at Oklahoma City University where he won the concerto competition in 2005 by playing a movement from Bernstein’s Second Symphony. There he studied composition with Edward Knight and conducting with Matthew Mailman. Mr. Fryklund is the head of the OCU Composers Alumni Association and organizes a yearly concert in which current students perform works written by alumni. In 2008 he received his masters degree from the University of North Texas in music composition studying with Andrew May, David Bithel, and Cindy McTee.

Mr. Fryklund began his career as an educator in Dallas ISD. As a middle school orchestra director there he led his ensembles to successful outcomes at contest, earning his school their first Orchestra UIL trophy in more than ten years. At DISD he helped organize the yearly All-City honor orchestra and served as clinician and sectional leader.

He is also an active professional composer. He has won awards for his film music and has had his pieces performed in eight states and in Europe. He is composer in residence for Theatre Britain, a theater company based in Plano that only performs British plays, and in 2014 he was musical director for the premier of his first original musical, Broken, at Gilley’s in Dallas.

Mr. Fryklund also enjoys reading, video games, and spending time with his wife, Monika, and their son, Adam.