Orchestra Director & Fine Arts Department Chair
Mr. Neal Springer
Neal Springer has been an orchestra director at Clements High School since 2014. Before coming to Clements, he taught at Crockett Middle School in Fort Bend ISD, and worked for orchestra programs in Abilene ISD in Abilene, TX. Under his direction, orchestras have consistently received UIL Sweepstakes and Best in Class awards in festivals across the state. The orchestras at Clements have also consistently placed as finalists in the Texas Honor Orchestra Competition.
Mr. Springer graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. He recently completed his Masters in Music Education and Conducting from Colorado State University in the summer of 2018. He is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, Texas Music Adjudicators Association, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. While at Hardin-Simmons, he was honored as the College of Music’s 2010 Presser Scholar. He also has served as TMEA Region 13 Middle School Orchestra Coordinator and Tabulation Chair. His private viola students have participated in numerous region and state orchestras. He has performed as a violist with a variety of ensembles including the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, Abilene Opera Association, Houston Civic Symphony and Cypress Philharmonic Orchestra.
When he is not teaching or conducting, Neal enjoys traveling with his family and watching movies. He is eternally grateful to his supportive wife, Rebekah, and loves spending time with his son.
Mrs. Sally Kirk
Sally Kirk began playing violin during her 6th grade year at Dulles Middle School where she first fell in love with the sound of a string orchestra. Her middle and high school orchestra teachers, Mr. Charles Tittsworth, Ms. Ellen Townley, and Mr. Michael Isadore, left a lasting impression of the power of music that Sally would take with her into her career.
Prior to starting as Orchestra Director at Clements in 2022, Mrs. Kirk taught orchestra for 14 years at Dulles Middle School right after finishing her music education. She received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Houston Baptist University and Masters of Music Education degree from Texas Tech University. In 2014, Sally Kirk was named the Dulles Middle School Teacher of the Year, the same year she began a faculty teacher orchestra, “Treble in Paradise.” Under her direction, the Dulles Middle School orchestras consistently earned UIL Sweepstakes awards and numerous “best in class” festival awards. In 2017, 2020, and 2021, the DMS Honors Orchestra was named National Winners of the Mark of Excellence nation-wide Foundation for Music Education competition and Commended Winners in 2015 and 2019. Additionally under her direction, the DMS string Honors Orchestra was invited to perform at the Midwest Clinic in 2009 and 2016. The DMS Symphony Full Orchestra had the honor of performing at TMEA in February, 2022.
Sally Kirk is a proud member of Texas Orchestra Directors Association, Texas Music Educators Association, and Texas Music Adjudicators Association. Outside of her musical ventures, Sally is also an active ceramic arts teachers and published polymer clay artist, “Blossom and Clay.” She resides in Houston, TX with her husband, John, a university and church organist, and two joyful daughters, Fiona and Joni.
Mrs. Stephanie Gustafson
Originally from Chicago, harpist Stephanie Gustafson now resides in Houston, where she is an active performer, educator, and writer. She has been principal harpist with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra since August 2015 and is a regular guest of the Houston Symphony and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in New Orleans. She has also worked with the Austin Symphony, the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra, and the El Paso Symphony and Opera. Prior to her move to Houston, Stephanie lived in Washington DC where she held the position of principal harpist with the Annapolis Symphony and regularly traveled to Chile to perform with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Santiago as acting principal harpist for their 2013–2014 season.
A passionate educator, Stephanie is co-director of the Houston Youth Harp Ensemble, which she co-founded in 2018. She is also on the faculty of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, where she teaches middle and high school harp students every summer. From 2016–2018, Stephanie was a Young Artist with Da Camera of Houston, which awarded her a grant to develop a music program to help combat school bullying. She also maintains an active private teaching studio for students of all ages in Houston.
In 2018, Stephanie was named the News Editor of Harp Column, a bi–monthly print publication serving the international harp community, where she writes on auditions, competitions, and album releases.