Next Gen Teacher Advisory Committee

Next Gen at the Center owes much of its outreach and curriculum development success to a core group of fantastic educators who comprise Next Gen’s Teacher Advisory Committee (TAC). Representing Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties at all grade levels, and all subjects, these eight educators are integral to programming successes within the Next Gen program.

From assistance with school and district schedules to content and standards alignment, and from school- and district-wide information distribution to programming concept development, TAC members help connect educators and students to impactful opportunities to educate through the arts – at no cost! – through Next Gen.

We like to think of the TAC as a family of education superheroes – hard-working, passionate, kid-focused volunteers who have helped connect more than 22,000 students to the world right here in rural Northern Michigan as the world is brought to our stage. 

Next Gen is looking for a new TAC member from Cheboygan. If you or someone you know might be interested, please contact Rachel Sytsma-Reed. 


Meet the 2023-24 TAC:

Liz Dunn

  • Grade: Third
  • Subject: Math, Science, and Social Studies
  • Count: Emmet
  • District: Harbor Springs
  • School: Blackbird Elementary 

I graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, went abroad to teach in Stockholm, Sweden, and came back and have been teaching in Harbor Springs ever since.

I'm happiest when I'm exploring new places and ideas, spending time with family and friends, and discovering new foods.

Stephanie Asiala-Gross

  • Grady: Elementary
  • Subject: Music
  • County: Emmet
  • District: Petoskey
  • School: Ottawa Elementary School

My passion is watching students use music as a motivational tool over a six year period from K-5th grade. It is amazing! Providing students who want to work their craft in after school choir and theatre is wonderful.

I once met James Earl Jones who was a student of my Great, Great Uncle, Donald Crouch. It was amazing to hear his voice thunder to me, “I think that it is interesting that you, too, have decided to become a teacher."

Laura Hotelling

  • Grade: High School
  • Subject: Spanish II, III, AND IV, Theatre, Debate, and Forensics
  • County: Ostego
  • District: Gaylord Community Schools
  • School: Gaylord High School

This is my twentieth year teaching, my fifteenth year running drama club, and my fifth year with the debate and forensics teams.

Everything I teach has a sort of performance aspect to it, and I love seeing kids get excited when they realize how what we learn in the classroom and on stage can be applied to some aspect of their lives, thus embracing that performance spark that drives most of what I do.

Catherine Kerr

  • Grade: Fourth
  • Subject: All Subjects
  • County: Charlevoix
  • District: East Jordan
  • School: East Jordan Elementary School

Defining attributes of life's pursuits must always contain vigor: enthusiasm, effort, and energy.

I strive to be a difference maker in the lives of students, athletes, colleagues, and my community, embracing the knowledge that we all have something to give, something to learn, and passion to share. 

Mark Seymour

  • Grade: 9 & 12
  • Subject: English
  • County: Charlevoix
  • District: Boyne City
  • School: Boyne City High School

A lifelong learner and enthusiastic Secondary English Teacher promoting literacy, competent communication, critical thinking skills, and applications to daily life for all students, with the intention that they may go out into the world prepared to improve upon it. 


Whether it’s catching trout in a winding Michigan stream, spending a perfect day on the beach, writing a great poem, or nailing the perfect song around a campfire, I dwell most passionately in the pursuit of such things.

Jodi Thompson

  • Grade: K-6
  • Subject: Music
  • County: Charlevoix
  • District: Charlevoix Public Schools
  • School: Charlevoix Elementary School

Throughout my 28 years of teaching, I have taught music in several private and public schools, taught private piano and voice lessons, directed church choirs and musicals, and directed Performing Arts at Charlevoix Middle-High School. I am passionate about singing, reading novels for fun, hiking in nature, and spending time with my family.

Erin Zucker

  • Grade: K-5
  • Subject: Vocal/General Music Education, High School Drama Music Director
  • County: Charlevoix
  • District: Boyne City
  • School: Boyne City Elementary

I have a bachelor's degree in Elementary/Middle School vocal/general music education and elementary education from Western Michigan University (1995) and a master's degree in curriculum and teaching from Michigan State University (1999). I have taught for Boyne City Public Schools since 1995. It was my one and only interview out of college and one of the BEST decisions I have ever made. I added the position of Music Director with the Boyne City High School Drama Department in 2007. I love teaching my passion for musical theatre and continuing to have relationships with my students through high school. I have taught voice, piano & flute through private music instruction since 1995.

Music enhances the education of our children by helping them to make connections, set goals, and broaden how they think and feel. The language of music is common to all generations and nations. Music expresses what cannot be put into words. Music education can help spark a child's imagination or ignite a lifetime of learning.