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The Place She Calls Home

The right place isn't something you choose,

but a place that chooses you, molds you, and tells you who you are.

-- M. Craig Barnes, President of Princeton Theological Seminary

-- from his book, Searching for Home

Photo taken by Dr. McQuade upon arrival in Valdosta.

Dr. McQuade is passionate about the place she calls home. Her deep love of community drives her to commit her time, talents, energy, and resources to the benefit and wellbeing of her neighbors. When choosing the name for her newly launched arts academy, community was in the forefront of her mind. There was great intention in her choice of “Valdosta” as the key word in the Valdosta Academy of Performing Arts. Dr. McQuade is committed to enriching this particular community in which she and her family live through the life giving power of the performing arts. She has a profound belief in the ability of the arts to transform individual lives and enhance the vitality of whole communities.

Jane Chu, the current chairperson of the National Endowment of the Arts, shares this passion:

The arts enhance our communities.

They point to the beauty of the places we call home.

They connect us with our neighbors.

They empower our students to want to learn.

They strengthen our economy.

It all counts.

Intriguingly, Dr. McQuade spent a decade building community in the very Oklahoma town in which Chu was born! Ah, what a small, beautiful, and interconnected world of community arts there is.

The overarching mission and purpose of the Valdosta Academy of Performing Arts is to strengthen the community through arts education. Dr. McQuade is determined to give her best to the Azalea City through providing the highest quality programs for students of all ages and interests. By nurturing the creativity and supporting the lives of her students, the community can’t help but flourish.

Dr. McQuade’s love of community is born from her deep love for individuals. She is likely one of the most loving, positive, energetic, and intentional people you will ever meet. It’s nearly impossible to encounter her and not be captured by her passion and commitment to community development. Just listen to her current and former students:

Sarah Harper (Doctoral student in Voice Performance): Although I have had other voice teachers since studying with Dr. McQuade, she is unique in that she genuinely cares for her students. If you study with Dr. McQuade, you will not only become a better singer, but also a better human being.

Brayden Lans (mental health professional): My relationship (as well as many of her students) with Dr. McQuade went beyond the typical small talk. I felt like I could talk to her about anything and she would provide a listening ear. She was an excellent mentor both inside and outside the classroom.

Ashlynn Dickinson (elementary school music teacher): As a music educator I view my time with Dr. McQuade as incredibly influential in my life as a musician and educator. As a musician she taught me to sing with a beautiful tone as well as portray the story within the song. As an educator she was a wonderful model of how to genuinely invest in your students and how to provide the perfect balance of critique and encouragement.

Elizabeth Colby (banker): My relationship with Dr. McQuade is a uniquely professional yet intimate one. I could also describe my feelings in a session as very exposed, yet safe and free to allow me to explore outside of my comfort zone. I am completely motivated and inspired by Dr. McQuade. Her continued growth in her own skills, encourages me to continue to grow my skills. I’m reminded that my skill has value for the community and for myself and should be shared.

J’Kobe Wallace (Music Education major): She teaches voice through a more personal avenue compared to other voice teachers. Because the voice is a personal instrument, she allows her students to take a significant part in their own vocal development.

Christin Clark (marketing professional): The thing that kept me going was my time with Dr. McQuade. It was not just her fun-loving personality that I was drawn to, but also her ability to mentor and drive me to believe I had more to give.

Kaylee Capp (Music Education major): She strives to build the best professional relationships with her students but also believes having a positive personal relationship with them is good too. Having an understanding of each person and being a positive support to her students means a lot to her. It is her desire to be the good in the lives of others.

Steve Oster (father of a current student): Dr. Jennifer McQuade is so much more than a voice instructor. As our daughter has taken lessons with Dr. McQuade we have seen a tremendous growth in her confidence on and off stage. She has also demonstrated a relaxed and confident presence while performing. Dr. McQuade establishes the needed personal rapport with her students to help them grow as musicians as well as people. With her emphasis on accountability, striving for excellence, and pursuing a love of music, it is easy to see her students soaring to new levels. Dr. McQuade has left a lasting effect on our lives, and in our community.

Schedule your first lesson and find the ways in which your gifts can enhance the place you call home!

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