Growing up in Texas and participating in the same contests and concerts as the students you see on stage, Desiree Overree is a product of the Texas music education system. She attained her Bachelor of Music Education degree with Highest Honors at Sam Houston State University. Since then, Ms. Overree has taught for Humble ISD, Spring Branch ISD, Cy-Fair ISD, and now teaches for Katy ISD. Under her baton, she led the Memorial Philharmonia Orchestras and placed First Runner-Up in the Texas Honor Orchestra Competition. She conducted at the MidWest Convention in Chicago with the Memorial Orchestras, and has conducted twice at Carnegie Hall, once with the Stratford HS Orchestras, and with the Memorial Orchestras. In 2003, 2004, and 2005, the GRAMMY Foundation honored her next campus, Langham Creek HS, for its exceptional public high school music programs, designating it as a GRAMMY Signature School. In 2005, Ms. Overree opened Seven Lakes High School; since then it has grown to an enormous group of 200+ string players over seven performance ensembles. By 2007, the Seven Lakes Sinfonia Orchestra was ranked as one of the top six string orchestras in the state of Texas. They have continued their commitment to excellence by being selected as one of the top ten orchestras in Texas in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015. The Seven Lakes Symphony Orchestra ranked #9 in TMEA’s Honor Competition in 2011, #5 in 2013, and #3 for this year. In 2014, Seven Lakes HS had three orchestras in the top ten rankings, as not only the Symphony and Sinfonia ensembles made the top ten, but her non-varsity string group, Cambiata was ranked with the same honor. Additionally, in 2010-11, the GRAMMY Foundation honored Seven Lakes for their excellence in music education, designating it as a GRAMMY Signature School. In 2010, it was distinguished with Runner-Up in State Farm’s “Original Score” contest.
As a high school musician, she had an opportunity to be a member of the SMU Conservatory Orchestras, who toured extensively throughout Europe. 2004 rekindled her passion for overseas travel, for Ms. Overree was a Co-Conductor with Dr. Deborah Perkins with the Texas “Lone Star” Ambassadors, who toured throughout Western Europe. Soon after, Dr. Perkins and Ms. Overree formed the Texas Youth Orchestra, which toured throughout Italy and Austria in 2006 and Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic in 2009, and the British Isles in 2012.
She has been recognized in “Who’s Who Among American High School Teachers,” KISD Excellence in Teaching, and has been recognized as an Educator of Distinction, by the National Society of High School Scholars. In 2011, she was awarded the Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award; only 50 educators are awarded this honor in the United States every two years. In 2012, she was the subject of a winning essay through Scholarship Points, winning scholarship money for Seven Lakes High School. She is frequently invited as an adjudicator and clinician, private violin teacher, and an active freelancer. She holds professional memberships and leadership positions in Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Music Adjudicators Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, Sigma Alpha Iota, and Mu Omicron.
Contact Ms.O: DesireeAOverree@KATYISD.ORG
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Colleen Whatley joins the Seven Lakes High School Orchestras this year as the Assistant Orchestra Director. She began her teaching career as the Head Orchestra Director at Lovett Elementary, a fine arts magnet in Houston ISD, and most recently worked as the Head Director at McDonald Junior High School in Katy ISD. Orchestras under Mrs. Whatley’s direction have consistently earned Sweepstakes awards at UIL Concert and Sight-reading evaluations.
A native of Texas, Mrs. Whatley is a product of the outstanding music programs our great state has to offer. Her teaching is greatly influenced by the passion, dedication, and drive instilled in her by her middle school and high school orchestra directors, Mrs. Sandra Vandertulip and Mrs. Kay Vanlandingham. Mrs. Whatley continued her double bass studies at the University of Texas, where she received her degree in music. She is an accomplished double bassist, and has studied under both Dr. David Neubert and David Dawson.
When Mrs. Whatley is not at school, you will probably find her training for a marathon, enjoying a nice meal, or reading a book. She also enjoys playing and performing with local community orchestras.