John was born in Riverdale, Maryland, and attended a Lutheran private school where his music teacher helped encourage his love of music to grow. John and his family moved to a blueberry farm in Bucyrus, Missouri, in 2004. He then attended Houston High School, graduating in 2009.
John's first experienced The STARS Foundation when his brothers were taking part in the production of Alice in Wonderland Jr. He served as Stage Manager for that play and has been involved with many productions since.
John is currently taking voice and piano lessons to help him further his understanding of music.
Louise developed an appreciation of music at a young age. She dreamed about playing the harp her childhood piano teacher had in her music room. Her father was a violinist in high school and college orchestra. Her youngest daughter of three children played the organ in the local church.
She was born in Omaha, Nebraska; moved to Mankato, Minnesota, as a senior; then attended Makato State Teachers College, receiving her B.S. degree in Elementary Education. Her Early Childhood degree was earned in Northwestern, Orange City, Iowa. She taught for 38 years, which included the states of California, Iowa, and Missouri. This included pre-school – third grades and the Parents as Teachers program.
Louise is now retired, living on a farm with her husband. Together they volunteered for twelve years at the S.O.S. Thrift Store and Food Pantry. She is president of the Brethren ladies church group and secretary of the Texas County Retired Teachers group. She is a child’s advocate, a supporter and promoter of music, and a follower of Jesus.
Andrea’s first big experience with music was at the age of 7, when she began piano lessons with Joy Lower. Those lessons continued for seven years, until her teacher received a job in the local school system. Andrea’s love of music continued, as she branched out into theatre, often appearing in high school musical productions. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, she spent six and a half years teaching in public elementary schools in the area before choosing to stay home full time to raise her young family. During those years at home with her children, she developed a love for stringed instruments. She had mentioned that she’d always wanted to learn violin, and one year for Mother’s Day, her husband surprised her with a violin. After a few years on violin, there was a need for viola in the STARS orchestra, so she began learning that instrument too. Andrea is excited about the opportunity to combine her love for music, her love for preschool children, and her love for teaching in the STARS program.
David spent many years in the retail business, starting with the family hardware store when he was 15. After several years in management at a mid-sized lumber/hardware chain, he went to work for a little company called Home Depot. He retired from management and HR at Home Depot in 2003 and moved to southern Missouri with his wife. David enjoys retirement by working several part-time jobs.
Cindy Westlund Bobe was born in Germany and raised in a military family. She graduated high school in New Jersey, and moved to Houston, Missouri, in 1999.
Cindy has two children, and has owned GiGi’s Nail Salon in Houston for six years. Her children participate in the STARS Foundation’s theatre productions. She is very involved in her community and in non-profit organizations.
Cindy is very excited about serving on the STARS Board of Directors.
Cindy has lived in Elk Creek, Missouri, since 2013. She moved from Great Falls, Montana, with her husband, Rob, and daughter, Cheyenne. After 21 years in the Air Force, with a career in Health Service Management, she retired. Cindy is a 2010 graduate of Park University, Missouri, with a B.S. in Computer Science and Management, Computer Information Systems. She is proud to be a member of The STARS Foundation, but mostly for being part of making a positive difference in young lives.
A native of Willow Springs,Missouri, music has been a part of Katie’s life since she was a baby. At home with a mother who played the piano, Katie’s first performance was an enthusiastic duet version of “Jingle Bells” at age two. Since then, she’s gotten a lot more polished but is still just as enthusiastic! Katie spent years taking piano lessons and performing in Willow Springs and the surrounding communities. She has played the piano in several jazz bands and continues to play at Pomona Christian Church in Pomona, Missouri. Katie’s beloved piano teacher, Joy Lower, gave her a solid foundation of technical knowledge plus passion for her craft.Katie graduated from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, with degrees in English Literature and Writing. She is a freelance writer and mother of two young daughters. Katie also manages Silvermist Labrador Retrievers, a successful venture that keeps her family very busy but up to their ears in puppy love. She and her husband, Erik, have been married for 13 years. Katie was introduced to STARS through her children when daughter Sophie, now 5, began ballet at age 3 and Sydney, now 9, started music theory class with the goal of learning to play the drums. Katie enjoys playing with the STARS orchestra.
Matt was raised in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in Houston, Texas, in 1990. He then spent two years in Spain as a missionary and learned to read, write, and speak fluently in the southern part of Spain.
It is in Spain that Matt really learned different cultures and fell in love with learning about other cultures. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in History with a Spanish minor. Shortly after graduating, he moved with his family to Missouri. He got his teaching certification from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, and began teaching Spanish at Cabool High School. He has also taught 6th grade math and world history. This will be Matt’s 10th year teaching. He recently received his Master’s degree in Educational Administration and loves the teaching profession.
Matt was married to his beautiful wife Rebecca on August 25, 1995. She is a concert pianist and very talented with music. They have been blessed with seven wonderful children. They are the proud parents of six daughters: Tessa, Madison, Hannah, Kyleigh, Abigayle, and Elleigh and one son, Weston.
Matt is currently employed as Spanish teacher at Houston High School. He is involved with family and church. He loves being in the community and serving on boards. He also enjoys every aspect of sports and recreation; especially coaching High School football. He too is learning to play the cello at The STARS Foundation.
Sherry was born and raised in Cabool, Missouri, graduating from Cabool High School in 1987. She attended the University of Missouri – Columbia, graduating in May, 1990, with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree. From there she went on to pass the C.P.A. exam, and work in the field of public accounting until 1995, at which time she moved back to the Cabool area and began work as the Vice President of Finance for Willow Health Care, Inc., a not-for-profit healthcare company headquartered in Willow Springs, MO. Sherry is married to Brad Miller, and they have two children: Logan (who is currently learning to play the drums and the saxophone) and Lauren (who is taking piano lessons). Sherry has played the piano since the first grade and enjoys playing at her local church each Sunday. Her love for music has been lifelong.
Joyce is a native of Missouri, living in the area until the age of 12. Her family went on vacation to California in 1946. Her parents returned to their home place in 1952 - a long vacation! Joyce’s formal education was in Central California. Both she and her husband taught several years in the Los Angeles schools, and when it was time to retire, they chose the Cabool area, close to family.
Joyce’s musical interest began while she was attending elementary school at Mountain Grove in the 5th grade. Carrying her violin case home each night on the bus felt so right. She continued playing in the orchestra in high school, and added the flute so she could be in the marching and concert band. She was the student director, but she never got first chair on either instrument! She could never out play the boys (her friends) to earn that position.
Now Joyce enjoys encouraging young people to continue with music in their lives!
Vanetta grew up in a rural area working farm chores and attending a one-room school for eight years. She graduated from Cabool High School in 1956, and attended SMS College (now Missouri State University). After two years of college, she was married to Bulas Sponsler in 1958.
They moved to Cabool, Missouri, in April, 1959. Bulas started working at the Cabool State Bank and Vanetta began substituting at Cabool Schools. She worked as a substitute teacher for eleven years, and after finishing her teaching degree, taught in the Cabool Schools for twenty-five years. Bulas and Vanetta lived and worked on a farm, raising Simmental cattle, as they also worked at the bank and school jobs.
She has had many hobbies through the years such as sewing, gardening, collecting Night Before Christmas books, and enjoying grandchildren. The Sponsler family owned The Cranberry Merchant for twenty-five years of which Vanetta was part of working the business, buying, floral design, and alterations of the clothing for seventeen years.
Vanetta is now retired and tired. She is now enjoying her friends for lunch and serving on some boards, such as The STARS Foundation. She has been a member of the Christian Church since 1959.