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.

Lydia Villarreal (BHS Director)

Ms. Villarreal has played instruments most of her life. She began playing the piano at age 7 and picked up the harp at age 12. Under the direction of Professor Delaine Leonard, she continued her pursuit of musical education through her adult years.  Ms. Villarreal received her Bachelor of Music in music studies alongside a minor in mechanical engineering. She then further pursued her Masters degree in harp performance at her undergraduate alma mater, The University of Texas in Austin.

She was privileged to be a member of the Mesquite Symphony Orchestra during her formative high school years. She has also has performed with the UT Wind Ensemble, Wind Symphony, Symphony Band, Symphany Orchestra, Mariachi and Harp Ensemble. Ms. Villarreal has traveled the globe to perform with the World Youth Wind Orchestra and the World Adult Wind Orchestra.

Ms. Villarreal has her music teaching certification and is specialized in a Suzuki teacher certification.  In addition to teaching music, Ms. Villarreal has assisted in orchestra and harp programs in the Austin and Round Rock Independent School Districts, she has volunteered with various church organizations and at the Center for Music Therapy in Austin. She was the harpist for the Movement Tracks Project, a collaboration between therapists and musicians to create new methods in music compositions and recording, utilizing brain-based music technology to help people walk again.

Ms. Villarreal is passionate about music and the effect it has on others. She actively advocates for human rights, especially the rights of her current and future students.”

Kathryn Sabrsula (AJH Head Director)


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.

Originally from Brazil, Carina Parker started learning to play the violin at the age 9 . She
earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the State University of Campinas in Brazil (Unicamp), a Master’s Degree in Violin Performance from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a Master’s Degree in Music Education from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, where she had the opportunity to study with outstanding professors such as Dr. Brenda Brenner and Mimi Zweig.  During her 15 years of teaching experience, Carina had the opportunity to teach music in multiple settings across three countries–Brazil, the United Kingdom and the United States–where she worked with students of numerous ages and skills levels, teaching individual and group lessons and coaching chamber and string orchestra ensembles. Carina has had the privilege of playing alongside many notable musicians including Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Nadja Salermo, Augustin Hadelich, Boris Belkin, and Kurt

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.

Jordan Dixon (Liberty Director)

Jordan Dixon is a Dallas area native, and is entering her seventh year of teaching. She began playing the violin in 6th grade as well as the oboe in 7th grade, and continued both throughout her public education in Mesquite ISD. She received her Bachelors of Music Education from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2012. From there, she spent her first three years teaching in Tyler ISD as a middle school director, where her programs earned their first UIL trophy in seven years.

Ms. Dixon is excited to begin her fourth year working at Liberty Junior High. She looks forward to continuing Liberty’s tradition of success, and learning from her talented and enthusiastic students.