Midway High School
Jeff Rice is in his 22nd year as Director of Choirs for Midway ISD and 36th year of teaching choral music. He is the head choral director at Midway High School where he directs the Select Men, Varsity Men, Meistersingers, and Chamber Singers. Mr. Rice's choirs consistently receive sweepstakes and first division ratings at UIL contests and festivals. MHS Choirs have been invited to perform at the TMEA convention three times under Mr. Rice’s direction. Prior to teaching at MHS, Mr. Rice taught in San Angelo ISD, Cy-Fair ISD, and LaPorte ISD.
In 1981, Mr. Rice graduated from Sherman HS where he was a two-year member of the TMEA All-State Choir. He received a Bachelor of Music Education from Baylor University and Master of Music from Texas State University.
Mr. Rice has served as High School Vice-President and President of the Texas Choral Directors Association, Chair of the UIL Prescribed Music List, and is currently serving as the TMEA Area D Vocal Chair. He is also an active member of the Texas Music Adjudicators Association. Mr. Rice has been selected as MISD Showcase of Stars Distinguished Educator on numerous occasions.
Mr. and Mrs. Rice have three grown children who are all MHS and Baylor graduates.
Midway Middle School
Ms. Kayla Torp is excited for her fourth year working with the Midway Choirs & first year as the Head Director at Midway Middle School! She is a proud graduate of Midway High School and Abilene Christian University where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Music Education in 2018. She is honored work in Midway where she can give back to the program that first instilled a love of music in her.
Ms. Torp is heavily invested in growing the choral community. She currently serves as a board member and performer for Central Texas Choral Society. She most recently performed with the Voci d'Amici Chorus and served as Camp Director at ACU's inaugural All-State Choir Camp. In her second year of teaching, she was named Midway's "Rising Star" for the 2020-2021 school year.
Ms. Torp believes music is the vessel in which she can help her students feel empowered, respected, and confident. She strives to create a safe space for students to celebrate one another. She continues to learn and grow alongside her students.
Outside of the choir classroom, Ms. Torp LOVES doing yoga, traveling with her high school besties, and exploring downtown Waco!
Mrs. Hyeyoung Ku is in her second year working with the Midway Choirs and first year as the Assistant Choir Director at Midway Middle School.
Mrs. Ku is a 2020 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin receiving her Bachelor of Music in Choral Music Education with honors. She started her vocal studies at age 9 as she passed the audition for the Korean Academy Children's Choir (KACC) with the recommendation of her classroom teacher. While she was in KACC, she had wonderful opportunities to travel worldwide to perform, record many Korean TV commercial songs, and even appearing on TV shows. These unforgettable memories grew her love and passion for music, and Mrs. Ku's love of choir life continued as she moved to the United States at age 14.
Mrs. Ku is passionate about teaching music. She believes that as a director, it is essential to provide a classroom to students where they feel comfortable and safe to communicate with one another and express their individual thoughts. She also strongly believes in encouraging her students to become the best they can be in a healthy and productive learning environment.
In addition to teaching, Mrs. Ku loves eating good food and traveling with her husband and family, and she has a precious pet kitty named "Star."
River Valley Middle School
Mr. Adam Gilliland is in his second year as the choir director at River Valley Middle School. He is in his 6th year of teaching between both the middle and high school levels. Mr. Gilliland is a 2011 graduate of Midway High School and a 2016 graduate of Baylor University, where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Choral Music Education. As a director, Mr. Gilliland has been privileged to prepare and perform with ensembles at the Texas Music Educators Association convention, in collaboration with composers as well as collegiate and professional conductors, and in tours nationally and internationally. As a performer, Mr. Gilliland currently performs with the Brethren Men’s Choir and has previously performed with the Texas Baroque Ensemble, the Richardson Chamber Ensemble, and as a staff singer for Christ Church Plano.
Mr. Gilliland has been a consistent member, participant, and volunteer of the the Texas Choral Directors Association and the Texas Music Educators Association serving as a Region Choir Organizer, Section Leader, Contest Host, and Convention Volunteer.
Mr. Gilliland is privileged to be a part of the tradition of excellence in Midway Fine Arts, and he looks forward to developing and furthering that tradition at River Valley. Personally, Mr. Gilliland will celebrate five years of marriage this year as well as the first birthday of his daughter.
Mrs. Lauren Escalante is in her first year as the Assistant Choir Director at River Valley Middle School. She is thrilled to join the Midway ISD Fine Arts team with six years of prior experience, both as a middle school choir director and as an intermediate school general music teacher. Originally from Webb City, Missouri, Mrs. Escalante graduated from Webb City High School in 2012 and moved to Texas to continue her education. She is a 2016 graduate of Texas Christian University, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Music Education.
Mrs. Escalante has had numerous singing opportunities to sing with and under the direction of high-caliber musicians, such as the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and world-renowned opera singer Andrea Boccelli. She also spent two summers as the Children’s Choir Intern for the Clear Creek Music Festival in Halfway, Oregon.
As an educator, Mrs. Escalante encourages students to be invested in their craft and go after it whole-heartedly. She believes that a quality music education is crucial to child development, and desires for her students to take part in creating a positive learning environment built on mutual respect.
Mrs. Escalante is looking forward to being part of the longstanding legacy of Midway Fine Arts and working to further that legacy at River Valley. Outside of school, Mrs. Escalante enjoys playing piano, drinking locally brewed coffee, and playing board games with her family. She has been married to her husband, Samuel, for seven years, and together they share a four year-old daughter, Mireia.