OUR FINE ARTS TEAM

Luzvic Backstrom

Orchestra Director

Luzvic is originally from Valencia, Venezuela. She studied music at an early age and eventually studied double bass at the Conservatorium of Carabobo, and later at "El Sistema" in Venezuela. She played for the Youth Symphony Orchestra, Carabobo's Bolivariana Symphonic Orchestra, among others. She studied music education back in Venezuela, but she won a scholarship playing the bass at the University of Southern Mississippi. She decided to transfer to the US to learn English, US Culture, and the double bass. Luzvic fell in love with her husband Jesse and they got married shortly after she graduated in 2011. Luzvic worked in the Hattiesburg Public School Orchestras for two years, but she suddenly moved to Austin in 2014 after her husband got a job. Shortly after moving to Austin, Luzvic got a job as the orchestra director of the LBJ-LASA orchestra. While at LASA, Luzvic had the opportunity to complete her National Board Certification, be a mentor leader for new AISD directors, be a mentor for National board, and be TMEA Region chair in 2018-2020. She has a Master degree in Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi and Master of Education in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies from the University of Texas at Arlington. Luzvic is the proud owner of her 19-pound calico cat called “Kitty” and her outdoors cat called “Gato Negro.”

Melissa Driscoll

Theatre Director

Melissa "MJ" Alexander Driscoll, also known as Ms. MAD or Ms. A is the theatre director and teacher at LBJ & LASA High Schools, she has served in this position for 16 years. She is the proud sponsor of the Alley Cat Players & Student Council. MJ is an artist, story-teller and teacher and she sees all three as a calling and a social service.

Ms. MAD is passionate about art for change, impact, protest and justice. She is equally passionate about creating safe places for students through the arts to learn, process, and grow at life skills. She loves building, designing and construction as much as acting and prides herself on having a department where both excel. Swing students (educated in with Tech & Acting) are the pride and joy of ACP!

In addition to all things theatre she loves her Student Council and enjoys supporting their commitment to the LASA student body and it's traditions! She hopes to one day run a school dance where not a single person complains about the song choices or the food & drinks!

A great lover of sports, you will find Ms. MAD on the sidelines of many games, especially football and she is excited to cheer Raptors & Jaguars next year! Lastly she would like everyone to know that she will produce "Footloose the Musical" again as soon as it seems right, don't fret!

Ponder East

Band Director

I grew up in Nacgodoches, TX from age 4-18. There are many teachers and musicians in my family, and it was a rather easy step to go into music education in college. After graduating from the University of North Texas in Denton in the late 90's, I began my teaching career, first teaching at Wylie Intermediate School in Wylie, TX. I then moved to Grapevine Middle School where I was the assistant band director for three years. I then moved to Austin in summer of 2001.

I taught private saxophone, clarinet, and flute lessons exclusively for two years before landing a half-time job as jazz band director at LBJ High School in 2003. I've been here ever since. I became a full-time band director around 2011, teaching all aspects of the program.

As a professional musician, I said yes to every gig that came my way for a long time, before finding some circles of friends and musicians, who have given me many chances to record, perform, and learn about life as a performing musician. I've recorded on several albums, toured a little bit, played SXSW a few times, and once at ACL.

In 2005 I married and now my wife and I have two boys, 9 and 4. I'm the only child of my mom and dad; I have two half-brothers, and a half-sister from my dad and my step-mom, as well as a step-brother from my mom and step-dad.

I've traveled to France (3 times), Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and China. I highly recommend traveling outside of the United States! Even though the world keeps getting smaller, it's still a big place, with lots to see and learn.

Paige Edwards

Drill Team, Dance, Yoga

In Houston, TX, Ms. Edwards began her dance education around the age of five at APAC Studio with a focus on ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical. Some of her favorite adolescent memories were during her Drill Team days as a Jersey Village Gold Duster where she helped lead the team each year.

In 2013, she graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor's in Business Administration and a Dance Minor. While attending A&M, she performed and taught with student organizations such as Fade to Black and Dance Arts Society. In the summer of 2014, she completed a dance & business internship through Performing Arts Abroad in Barcelona, Spain with Varium Espai de Moviment.

After a few years of teaching dance instruction to various studios in Austin, she began her journey into Public School Education by completing her EC-12 Physical Education and 9-12 Dance Certification. She always hoped to lead a team of her own, and although the journey was not direct, she is thankful for all of the various roles she held prior. In the Fall of 2018, she became the Dance Teacher and Drill Team Director for LASA/LBJ. She is cultivating a strong LASA Dance program and hopes to for years to come. Dance, is a beautiful source of creativity, health, friendship, and a way to connect with your community, and she loves to inspire these joys within her students.

Most recently, Ms. Edwards obtained her 200 hour RYT Certification through Wanderlust's Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training. She incorporates many Yogic practices such as meditation, movement, and overall health and wellness into her teachings too.

In addition to teaching and practicing dance and yoga, she loves spending time with her cats and puppy, exploring the outdoors, seeing live music, gardening, quality family and friend time, and continually learning new things!

Jessica Fisher

Visual Arts & Fashion Design

Originally from Plano, Texas, I grew up oil painting and drawing with my Grandma every weekend as a kid. Once in high school my love of art became more than a hobby and I knew that one day I wanted to be an art teacher because of the tremendous impact my AP art teacher had made on me.

I graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BFA (emphasis in Drawing, Painting and Printmaking) and a minor in k-12 education. In 2010 I moved to Austin to begin my first year of teaching at LASA. This will be my 11th year of teaching visual arts and my 3rd year teaching fashion design.

I live in Austin with my husband, daughter Faye, and our dog Denver. My parents and siblings all moved to Austin from Dallas four years ago, it is so nice to have the whole family here!

Some of my hobbies outside of art and fashion design include collecting mid century modern furniture, vintage shopping and spending time with family.

Jeffrey Fratus

Guitar

Jeffrey Fratus (Fray-tis) is a classical guitarist and songwriter in Austin, Texas. He holds a Bachelors in Music from Middle Tennessee State University and a Masters in Music from The College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. He currently works as an educator and performer around the Austin area, playing for weddings and events as well as writing and recording music with his band, Monohan.

Liz Hewitt

Art

I graduated from LASA in 2006 and from UNT with a BFA in 2009. I’m married to a scientist and we have 3 kids William, Nico and Ryn. Our family loves to cook, work on building projects and explore the outdoors together. As a child, I was drawn to craft and design, but disliked drawing. I started many pop-up shops selling jewelry, handmade bags and baked goods. I found art classes discouraging and felt they focused on those “gifted” at drawing, not students like me. It was not until college that I learned different approaches to the craft of drawing and learned to embrace my own style and preferences. It was my experiences at LASA that made me pursue a teaching career. In my academic classes teachers always encouraged me to trust myself, try different strategies and to never give up. I strive to emulate those mindsets with my Art instruction. This year begins my 12th year teaching at LASA. I believe that we can all do anything, we just need to trust ourselves, try new approaches and be patient with ourselves.

Deric Lewis

Choir, Piano, AP Music Theory

Deric J. Lewis, is an accomplished musician/songwriter in multiple genres including Classical, Jazz, Pop, and Gospel. After graduating from Huston-Tillotson University (Austin, Texas) with a degree in Classical Piano Performance, he sought a postgraduate degree from Howard University (Washington D.C.). As a performer, Deric has traveled to several foreign countries and most major cities in America sharing the stage with national artists. His recording choir “Deric Lewis & The Church Choir” is currently signed & featured on three national releases. Deric has been called upon to assemble and train choirs for celebrities such as Diana Ross and Damon Albarn (Assembled, rehearsed, and sang background vocals for the Warner Bros. International artist’s SXSW appearances on Jimmy Kimmel-LIVE & his American tour which included The Tonight Show, The Governor’s Ball (NYC), The Bonnaroo Festival, Irving Plaza (NYC), The Royal (Boston), and the Fox Theater (Atlanta). Deric has been called upon to perform for celebrity weddings including the Jessica Simpson/Nick Lache wedding and the Nancy Mckeon wedding, and to score songbooks for gospel artists such as The Texas Mass Choir, Norman Hutchins, and Chester D.T. Baldwin. Deric is also the organist for the Missionary Baptist General Convention of Texas and a proud member of the most esteemed Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Deric is also a music educator. He holds an EC-12 certification in Music and is employed by AISD. He heads the Choral Department and teaches AP Music Theory & Piano at The Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Early College High School. Under his leadership, the LBJ Concert Choir has made remarkable strides towards excellence culminating in their “Sweepstakes” award in Varsity, Mixed 5A at the Texas UIL Concert/Sight-reading competition.

Christopher Lizak

Band

Originally from Cuyahoga Falls, OH, Chris Lizak earned his Bachelor of Music degree from The Ohio State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He then traveled to Evanston, IL and received his Master of Music degree from Northwestern University. Chris finally made his way to Austin, TX, where he earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The University of Texas at Austin, serving as a graduate teaching assistant. During his studies, Chris had the pleasure of studying with noted percussion pedagogues, including Susan Powell, Joseph Krygier, Michael Burritt, James Ross, She-e Wu, Thomas Burritt and Tony Edwards.A fervent supporter of new music, Chris has been on commission projects for composers Alejandro Vinao, Steve Snowden, and Chris Ozley. Recently, he began a commission project of his own, commission three new works for marimba, which will be premiered in the coming year.Always looking for a new opportunities for young percussionists, Chris is currently organizing and planning the creation of a youth percussion ensemble for the greater Austin area. Additionally, he hopes to create a yearly high school percussion ensemble festival, showcasing the wealth of talent found in the surrounding school districts at one venue.

Brian Mayer

Band Director

Originally from Austin, TX, I graduated from LASA in 2006 and from the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas in 2011. After graduating from UT, I was thrilled to return to my alma mater and get to teach such passionate and driven students. I am currently going into my 10th year at LBJ/LASA, and my 5th year as Head Band Director. During my time at LBJ/LASA, I have been a huge believer in collaboration. Every year, I work with Mrs. Backstrom to put together a Full Orchestra, as well as Mrs. Driscoll to put together a Spring Musical (in which I conduct the Pit Orchestra). I am passionate about fine arts being the perfect medium for creating good citizens. The collaborative nature of band and the performing arts teaches not only creativity, but also empathy, grit, and the importance of hard work and dedication. My other passion in life is rock climbing. It’s been something that I have been a huge part of my life for over a decade. It has opened up all sorts of adventures across the world, from climbing a 2500ft cliff in Mexico, to spending a week climbing on a remote island off of the cost of Greece. I find that rock climbing is the perfect balance of pushing your comfort zone and still providing a mental challenge alongside the physical one.A more recent adventure in my life, is I now have two incredible, sweet, BIG dogs at home. Eliza, a 1 year old lab mix coming in at around 50lbs, and Winnie, an 11 month old great pyrenees mix who weighs about 80lbs. We like to compare their personalities to Tigger and Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.