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Jerry Skora

Choral Director at Gaither High School (1984-1999)

Jerry Skora moved to Tampa from Philadelphia in 1947 and finished his education in Hillsborough County Schools. After receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education at the University of Tampa in 1961, he began teaching at Vincent Martinez Ybor Elementary School, West Tampa Junior High School, Adams Junior High School, East Bay High School, and Hillsborough High School. While at East Bay, he established the first show choir in Hillsborough County.

When Gaither High School opened up in 1984, he was the first choral director at the school and taught for the next 14 years where he continued to develop choirs of superior ratings and created SHOWCASE. He retired at Gaither after 37 years and continues his involvement in music giving piano lessons. Jerry and his wife Linda, a retired Hillsborough County school teacher, have a daughter, two sons and six grandchildren.

Debbie Cleveland 
Choral Director at Gaither High School (1999-2022)

Debbie Cleveland has known since she was in the eighth grade that the path of music education was for her. “I was inspired by a choral director, and the dream never died.” She had 35 years of experience as a choral director in secondary public schools, a history of performing worldwide with “the BUZZ,” a women’s international championship a cappella quartet, and choirs consistently chosen for EPCOT’s Candlelight Processional, the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Concert Series in New York City, and the Florida Music Education Association (FMEA) State Convention. Cleveland holds a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal music education from the University of South Florida in Tampa and a Master’s degree in education and curriculum from the University of Tampa. Under her direction, Gaither's chorus program flourished with so many opportunities afforded to the large amount of students enrolled. In 2018, Debbie received the Barbershop Harmony Society/NAfME Music Educator of the Year for her dedication to the art form of Music Education. The Gaither High School "Hurricane of Harmony", under the direction of Mrs. Cleveland received "Audience Favorite", Superior Rating and Plateau AAA Champion in both Nashville, TN and Costa Mesa, CA. Debbie and her husband, Brett, remain making music in Hillsborough County, along with her two children and three grandchildren.

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