Michael Tompkins has been the Director of Orchestras at Hightower Middle School since 2014. During this time, the Chamber Orchestra has performed at the America String Teachers Association (ASTA) National Orchestra Festival (2018). The 8th Grade Orchestra has been invited to perform at the Georgia State Capitol (2016, 2017) and has performed at the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) In-Service Conference in Athens, GA (2019). The HTMS String quartet had the opportunity of performing for First Lady, Sandra Deal at the Governor’s Mansion in 2014 and 2018. The orchestra also received the GMEA Exemplary Performance Award in 2015 and 2022. Prior to teaching at Hightower Trail, Mr. Tompkins taught for 11 years at Campbell Middle School in Smyrna, Ga. While at Campbell, the orchestra program more than doubled in size and regularly performed in the community.
Mr. Tompkins received his Bachelor of Science in Music degree from Southern Adventist University (2000), where he studied cello under Dr. James Stroud. At Southern, Mr. Tompkins served as Principal Cellist of the University Orchestra, which toured Ireland during the summer of 1998. He earned his Master of Music Education degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2002), where he studied cello under Dr. Wesley Baldwin. As a graduate intern, he represented the UT School of Music at the Music Educators National Conference (2002). As a cellist, Mr. Tompkins has performed with several community and church orchestras. He has worked with numerous string camps including the Shiloh String workshop, which he founded and directed in 2007. Mr. Tompkins is currently on staff as Director and cello clinician at the East Cobb Upbeat Strings! Camp. Mr. Tompkins is also an accomplished church keyboardist, specializing in gospel music. He is currently a pianist at Shiloh SDA Church.
Mr. Tompkins and his wife, Shawnte Scott-Tompkins (6th Grade Social Studies teacher at Hightower Trail Middle School), live in Marietta with their 13-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, who is an aspiring cellist.
Paul O’Keefe is in his 7th year as Orchestra Assistant Director at Hightower Trail Middle School. Prior to teaching at Hightower Trail, Mr. O’Keefe taught for 7 years at Wheeler High School, and 3 years at Daniell Middle School. While at Wheeler, the orchestra program grew quickly and they received 1st place awards for solos and string orchestra performances in Virginia and Florida.
Mr. O’Keefe received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Florida State University (1998), where he studied Violin under Professor Karen Clarke. At Florida State, Mr. O’Keefe served as Director of the Tallahassee Youth Philharmonia Orchestra. Following graduation, Mr. O’Keefe served as clinician to the Tampa Bay Youth Orchestra, and served as a violin clinician to orchestra programs throughout the Hillsborough County area in Tampa, Florida.
As a violinist, Mr. O’Keefe has performed with small ensembles and church orchestras throughout Cobb County. He performs regularly in string trios, quartets, solos, Bluegrass ensembles and Orchestra Cantatas throughout Atlanta and Cobb County.
Mr. O’Keefe and his wife, April O’Keefe, live in Marietta with their 10-year-old son (Carson), two 7 year-old twins (Molly and Logan), and a small Beagle name Leela.