Who Are We?

I, Jodi Jackson, as a community pediatrician for over a decade, have been committed to promoting the health of all children, within the context of family, school and community. I now want to fuse my love of music and theater with my dedication to caring for children, particularly with special needs. Being a part of an academic hospital, namely Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, I care for many children with a wide spectrum of physical, developmental and behavioral needs. I believe that activities such as the performing arts bring much joy and achievement, positively affect childrens’ cognitive, emotional and communication skills. I am certain that through offering music, art and theater classes to children who otherwise have limited access due to developmental, physical and/or economic needs, I can further serve the children of my community. Collaborating with other professionals, agencies and parents who share the same vision will improve the health of children and families, strengthening our community in the process.

I, Mia Szumetz, began teaching private voice and piano lessons fresh out of college in September of 2004 for Maestro Minds School of Music in downtown Irwin, PA. I loved the students and the interaction with the parents and the community. Two years later, I took over officially as the owner of Maestro Minds and have been learning and growing as an educator and as a business owner. From my experience, I see how music, art, and theater are powerful tools that equip my students with the self-confidence and communication skills needed to succeed in life. Many times a toddler begins their first music class shy and backward, and a few weeks later runs into class beaming and greeting their new friends. I have watched as first graders begin piano lessons and see a correlating rise in their math comprehension. Junior high girls who are desperate for a place in their newly formed social society enter their Musical Theater class with their heads down, hair in their eyes, and by performance time are shining stars. Our society is desperate for the sense of community – technology has created a false sense of relationship for our children, and even more so the busy mom and dad flying from work, to activities, and back home again. My hope is that AKT will reach out to families as a whole, creating a comfortable learning environment where each member of the family can interact with one another, fellow families, and the community as a whole. The beauty of music, theater, and art are the lasting enjoyment the creator can experience for the duration of their lifetime – we can help to form that foundation for children and families from all walks of life.

Together, along with others who specialize in Music Education, Special Education, and Early Childhood Education, we have created a program where each child will have the freedom to express themselves through music and theater! We, along with our wonderful students and in conjunction with Maestro Minds School of Music, form the foundation of AKT.