Fine Arts, Performing Arts, and Publications Faculty


Band Director Melissa Jokerst

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm to life and to everything. ~Plato


College: University of Southern Mississippi, Bachelors and Masters degrees

Years teaching/conducting/directing: 15.5

Awards/ events: UMS-Wright Symphonic Wind Ensemble: Superior Ratings in Concert and Sight-Reading at MPA State Festival; Gautier Middle School’s Teacher of the Year 1998; Nominee for Disney’s Teacher of the Year Award 1998

Family:  husband Tom, automation engineer at BASF Corp.; daughters Ryann, c/o 2020 and Reagan, c/o 2022; Tabs the cat.

Hobbies/interests: member of the clarinet section of the Mobile Symphonic Pops Band; tap dancing with the Adult Tap class of Sheffield School of Dance; Karaoke; trivia




Choral Director, grades 5-12  Michelle McCormick

No good thing does God withhold from those who walk uprightly. ~Psalm 84:11


College: University of Mobile

Years teaching/conducting/directing: 


Family: married to Macon; daughter Ellie, c/o 2025

Hobbies/interests: I continue to sing; I love to spend time with family!



Choral Director, grades K4-4  Kristi Howze


Tell me, I forget; Show me, I remember; Involve me, I understand.  
~ Carl Orff

College: Samford University, B. M. with Orff certification;  Auburn University,

M. Ed. with Kodaly certification; 

Years teaching/conducting/directing: 22 years

Awards/events: LS Chorus invited to sing at Governor's Mansion; AMEA Executive board; Creating Original Opera program with Mobile Opera Guild

Family: husband Rick; son Patrick, c/o 2016; daughter Mary Elizabeth, c/o 2019

Hobbies/interests: singing in church choir; attending musicals; hunting with family  


Drama, grades 5-12   Diane Maisel

Middle School Drama Director  



College: University of Alabama

Years teaching/directing: 30+ years

Awards/events: debate students advanced to nationals 3 years at UMS-Wright; drama students consistently win and/or place in state and district level competition

Family: daughters Annie and Hannah, c/o 2015

Hobbies/interests: spending time in the mountains with my girls



Drama and Production, grades 9-12  Margaret Delaney

Studio Art, grades 5-6

Every now and then, when you're on stage, you hear the best sound a player can hear. It's a sound you can't get in movies or in television. It is the sound of a wonderful, deep silence that means you've hit them where they live. 

~Shelley Winters


College:  BA in Drama, University of Georgia; MLA, Spring Hill College

Years teaching/directing:  16

Awards/events: The Wright Players have earned Superior ratings at the district and state level in Individual Events and the Ensemble one-act plays consistently earn superior ratings with a Best of Show award in 2017

Family:  Husband Richard; daughter Killian, c/o 2026; son Richard, c/o 2029 

Hobbies/interests: supporting community theatre, hunting, fishing, prop building





Photography, grades 7-12  Catherine Helmsing

Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see

and everything to do with the way you see them.  ~Elliot Erwitt


College:  BA in Studio Art, Auburn; MA in Art Education, University of South Alabama

Years teaching: 9 years

Hobbies/interests: music, camping, hiking, and outdoor activities




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Piano, grades 6-12  Donna McClain

 Even youths grow tired and weary, /and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord / will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; / they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
~Isaiah 40:28-31


College:  William Carey College, B. M.; Music graduate of the year 1993

Family: Husband, Rev. Grant McLain, pastor of Covenant Baptist Church in Lucedale; son Carey, nursing major; son Mason, mechanical engineering major

Hobbies/interests: yard work, fishing, reading, Operation Christmas Child County Coordinator, music at my church



Piano, grades K4-4  Susan Kirkland

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God

and the refreshment of the soul. ~ Johann Sebastian Bach


College: B.S. Auburn University, M.S. University of West Alabama

Years teaching: 14 years in school system; private studio teacher for 10 years.

Awards: Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society

Family: Husband Jack; daughter Lauren; son Landon

Hobbies/interests: Family activities, church pianist, gardening



Publications – Yearbook - Tiffany Chapman



Years teaching

Awards: Yearbook: 

Family: husband Mark; son Will c/o 2018; daughter Lesley c/o 2020

Hobbies/interests:  gardening, family time by the pool



Studio Art, grades 8-12; Creative Writing, Pier Hardin

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

                                                                                      ~William Wordsworth


College: University of Alabama, B.A.; Springhill College, M.L.A.

Years teaching: 28

Awards: UMS-Wright Arts Hall of Fame, c/o 2016; Highly Qualified Teacher of English (College Board distinction); Cover Artist for SCAD Summer Educators’ Bulletin Superior Ratings (All State, All American) for The Mind’s Eye 

Family:  daughter Pier Louise; son Rucker

Hobbies/interests oil painting, fiction (writing and reading it), binge-watching Netflix; walking



Studio Art, grades K4-4  Leslie Holberg 

Every child is an artist. ~ Picasso



College: University of South Alabama, B.S.; Springhill College, M.S.

Years teaching: 24

Awards/events: Mobile Arts Council board member 

Family: sons Jacob, c/o 2018, and Ben, c/o 2023

Hobbies/interests:  watching my boys play sports, being outside, and creating art



© UMS-Wright Preparatory School,
65 Mobile Street, Mobile, AL 36607 |
Telephone: (251) 479-6551