Melissa is an Education Assistant with the Sooke School District and currently works as an EA at EMCS High School in Sooke. She has been involved in many community-based performance groups throughout the years and has participated in community theatre in Alberta and BC since 2003 and brings to us her extensive theatre background, as well as her passion for acting, and a love of working with children. In addition to performing on the stage herself, Melissa has participated in numerous productions as Assistant Director, Stage Manager, Technical Director, and Assistant Producer.
Melissa had the pleasure of working with the students of Amber Academy as our Acting Instructor in 2017. Since then, Melissa has enjoyed being able to remain involved with the organization as a board member of Amber Academy. Her goal is to help students unlock their unique talents through acting and theatre by supporting and nurturing their creativity and confidence.
Michael has been involved with the live music and performing arts communities of Sooke since 2009. At home on stage or in the sound and lighting booth, Michael has taken part in a wide variety of productions in Sooke and beyond. Michael is currently the drummer for local band Shale, and works with numerous local musicians on stage and in the studio. He played drums and percussion for several local musical theater productions including Amber Academy’s own Fraggle Rock-a-Thon, and has fulfilled production roles in numerous shows as technical director, lighting designer, and sound engineer.
In the past, Michael has had the joy of working with children both as a swimming instructor and outdoor camp leader. He is enthusiastic to continue to share his passion for the performing arts and music with the community as part of Amber Academy, and hopes to inspire youth to develop a love of the performing arts in the same way that he was inspired by the vibrant performing arts community of Sooke as a child.
Keli formed Amber Academy Youth Fine Arts Society in honour of her sister, Amber, who died tragically in 2016. Keli’s hope is that through Amber Academy’s programs and mentors, young people will uncover the framework they need to build a positive sense of self and develop a pro-social connectedness that will foster them in becoming confident, productive, and healthy adults.
Keli's work in the non-profit sector spans more than 25 years. Specific areas of expertise include Business Development, Risk Management, Project Management, Marketing and Communications, Fund Development and Event Coordinating.
Keli's passion is using her professional skills to make a difference in the lives of children today which may help them to become effective leaders tomorrow.
Brandon Cheng moved from Victoria to Sooke in 2005 with his wife, who was originally from Sooke. Brandon has been involved with community youth sports organizations for 7 years. He has held board positions such as Treasurer/ Secretary, General Manager, and Director at Large. Brandon has a background in Human Resources/ Recruitment, Office Administration, and Customer Service. He is excited to join such a wonderful organization that empowers youth and means so much to our community.
Stephanie has lived in the Sooke area for 20 years. Much of her career has been spent in communications and event planning in the non-profit and government arts and culture sectors. After a brief hiatus to be home with her two children, she changed gears and became a French Immersion teacher with the Sooke School District and currently works at Journey Middle School.
Stephanie has previous board experience as the President of the Shirley Women’s Institute for seven years and the Secretary for the Shirley Community Association for five years.
Stephanie is thrilled to have her children join Amber Academy this year and to be involved in such a worthy organization.
Donna retired in 2005 after a long career in Management with the Provincial Government. Not being quite ready for the typical “slow-down” that often comes with retirement, Donna continued to take on seasonal part-time jobs in whatever particular avenue peaked her interest at that time. What Donna noticed most in her transition from the security of a stable career with benefits and a good salary, to working in these different capacities was that so many people had no option but to survive on far less income than she had been accustomed to. As a mother and a grandmother, she understood the significant sacrifices that many others would have had to make in order to provide for their families. Many kids would miss out on activities like music, art or dance classes because of the cost. Amber Academy is giving families an affordable opportunity for all children to explore their imagination and to see how far they wish to go on their adventure, and Donna is excited to be a part of that.
Melissa is island born and grew up in Calgary Alberta. She decided in 2017 that it was time to come home and put down her roots. Today she is a wife, a loving mother to two children, works as a Project Manager for a local contractor, and has a small body piercing and jewellery business in Sooke. Melissa has a growing passion for entrepreneurship, community involvement and continuous learning. Her educational achievements include a Paralegal Diploma, Construction Management Certificate, Construction Drawings Certificate, Graphic Design Certificates, and a Body Piercing Certificate. She is a member of the Sooke Boxing Club, and a volunteer Director for Amber Academy Youth Fine Arts Society.
Growing up, Melissa was an at-risk youth. She was given up by her mother as an infant and raised in a community that was plagued with gang activity. The odds were against her, but thanks to a few positive mentors and experiences, Melissa was able to rise above and put herself through college. She proceeded into the workforce with an extensible skillset and confidence that has carried her through her adult life. Melissa had her first child at age 23, and for the first 8 years of her daughter’s life, was a single mother. Through all the challenges that presented themselves, she never gave up on herself. Melissa represents the underdog and believes that youth care and empowerment is the key to building strong communities.
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