Leighanne was born and raised in Victoria, BC and moved to Sooke when she was 10 years old. She has always had a love of song and dance and creativity. When she was eight years old, she performed in her first show The Wizard of Oz, in which she played “The Scarecrow”.
Leighanne worked in childcare for 15 years, then went to Camosun College to study Horticulture. She has also studied acting and attended local workshops and classes. She became involved in community theatre as an adult, and has played lead roles, as well as chorus roles. She thoroughly enjoys both. She has appeared in numerous productions including Godspell, Afterlife, Fawlty Towers (x3), and some locally written short plays, as well as Improv in the Park and performed in talent shows.
Leighanne’s offstage roles have included Assistant Director, Assistant Musical Director, Musical Director, Costumes Manager, Front of House Manager, and child minding behind the scenes for Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Drew Kemp is well known throughout Victoria and Vancouver Island for his theatrical and artistic endeavours. A graduate from the Banff School of Arts and Langara College of Performing Arts, Drew graduated from the University of British Columbia with an Education Degree majoring in Theatre Arts. Drew started his acting career in his late teens as an assistant to renowned hypnotist 'Reveen'. After traveling throughout Canada in the theatre world, he settled in Vancouver where he was involved as an actor in the Beachcombers series.
Prior to teaching high school, Drew also worked extensively with troubled youth at the Maples Adolescent Centre in Burnaby teaching theatre arts as well as painting and fabric arts. He also worked for the BC Ministry of Family and Children running a group home for youth in crisis.
Drew began teaching high school dance, drama, history and English in Victoria at Spectrum Community School in 1986. He then went on to teach at Oak Bay Senior Secondary where he helped develop a community theatre program, all the while continuing to work at his craft of performing and directing. Drew directed and acted in productions for Victoria Operatic Society, Langham Court Theatre, Duncan Musical Theatre, Shawnigan Lake Players and was head of the musical theatre component of Comox Valley Youth Music Centre in Comox/Courtenay for 17 years.
Amber Academy is thrilled to welcome Drew to our team of instructors.
Maria Eduarda Mendes Martins is a music director, teacher, and composer resident in Victoria, BC. Having worked with community ensembles, choirs, and orchestras, Maria has proven to be a versatile conductor, performing orchestral, choral, popular and avant-garde repertoires.
Born in Rio de Janeiro and raised in Porto Alegre (Brazil), Maria started her work as a music teacher at Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) – where she completed a bachelor’s degree in music composition (2008-2012), teaching adults from the community to read music. This work led Maria to teach privately at a local music school, and subsequently at University of Victoria, where she completed a master’s degree in music composition (2013-2015). At this time, Martins also worked as a teacher/project co-ordinator for the renowned Victoria Children’s Choir, in Canada. During her master’s degree, Maria also started her work as a conductor, directing graduation recitals, UVic’s orchestra during rehearsals, as well as the school’s resident Contemporary Music ensemble, Sonic Lab.
Since her graduation, Maria’s involvement with the local community and music production in Canada led her to stay in the country and to start a career as a Canadian composer and conductor, directing various local groups, such as the Crystal Singers, Victoria Composers Collective, and St. Barnabas Church Choir (which commissioned her to write the Mass to St. Barnabas, in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the parish).
We are very excited to have Maria join our staff at Amber Academy.
Nicole was born and raised on the west coast of British Columbia. Over the past 30 years she has mastered many artistic mediums such as stained and fused glass, bead work, collage, encaustic and silk screen printing. More recently she has designed and created her own line of women’s fashions.
Nicole has been creating costumes for the Sooke Dance Studio for the last 10 years and was costume designer for Sooke Harbour Players’ last two productions.
Since 2009, Nicole has been involved in many youth art projects such as teaching art workshops, volunteering in the schools, co-facilitating youth art camps, and co-facilitating three whole school mural projects in Sooke, B.C. Nicole was a Girl Guide and Pathfinder Leader from 2013 - 2018 and has been teaching at Amber Academy since September, 2017.
Deborah van Hattem-Koff is an illustrator and artist from Sooke, born in the Netherlands. She is also a member of the Sooke Arts Council. Deborah has been drawing, painting and illustrating from a very young age and has been taking art history, drawing and painting classes since the age of 12.
Deborah is also a workshop teacher. She organizes "Sip and Paint” art classes at the Artisan's Garden in Sooke, and also hosts painting classes for children. Additionally, Deborah is a henna artist, creating temporary body art using henna leaf paste.
Deborah's artwork has been displayed and sold in several shows in Victoria, Sooke, the Netherlands and Fort Langley. She recently worked on designing 100 hand illustrated cards for the cast and film crew of the popular Hallmark Channel TV series, "When Calls the Heart".
Deborah looks forward to passing on her artistic skills and sharing her creativity to the younger generation at Amber Academy. She loves to inspire and enable others to have fun creating and discovering the artist within.
Rowan has been involved in theatre for as long as he can remember, and has performed with a variety of companies including Pacific Opera Victoria and Sooke Harbour Players. He has been doing theatre tech since 2013. Growing up in a family of musicians (both parents are guitar teachers), Rowan has sought out a deep and thorough understanding of audio gear, which he puts to use as a keyboard player in various bands.
Rowan also volunteers as an instructor for the Robotics Club at EMCS, which regularly takes silver or bronze medal at the provincial Skills Canada competition.
Rowan loves working with youth, and hopes he makes a positive difference in the lives of those he works with. He plans to make teaching his career.