Management & StaffExecutive Director - Karen Hatcher
Karen is a graduate from Mount Saint Vincent University’s Bachelor of Tourism and Hospitality Management program. She has worked at many hospitality organizations where she has gained a lot of experience in operational management. Karen is a natural leader and through her many management roles has developed very strong people management and leadership skills. She is also very team oriented and as the owner/operator of KHG Management Karen delivered corporate team-building programs, facilitated seminars and managed conferences, conventions and special events throughout Atlantic Canada. As the general manager of several non-profit organizations Karen gained experience in grant writing, fundraising, and sponsorship. Being very community oriented she has used her education and industry experience while sitting on; the Board of Directors of Destination Halifax, the Board of Governors of Mount Saint Vincent University, the Tourism Summerside Board of Directors as Vice President, the PEI Tourism Advisory Council (TAC), and most recently the board of directors of Meetings and Conventions PEI. Karen is also an active member of the Rotary Club of Summerside. In February of 2013, Karen was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal recognizing her contributions to her community and Prince Edward Island. Prior to returning to Summerside and The College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada, her most recent career undertaking was as Sales Manager for the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront focusing on the Government and Corporate Markets.
Outside a very busy career, Karen’s passion is playing the bagpipes which began in 1978 under the direction of Pipe Major Francis MacKenzie with the Cape Breton Gaelic Society Pipes and Drums. Karen is still a member with the 36 Halifax Pipes and Drums under the direction of Pipe Major Mike Dupuis. She has had the privilege of traveling to Holland to participate in the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of Holland in 2005 and returned again in May of 2010 for the 65th Anniversary which was the largest public celebration and commemorations for the allied veterans. Karen toured Scotland in 2007 with the Canadian Massed Pipes and Drums participating in various parades and concerts including an opening performance for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Karen has also participated twice in the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo and in 2004 traveled with the Tattoo’s Black Watch Association Pipes and Drums to Holland to perform in the Breda tattoo. In 2014, Karen will be returning to Scotland with two of the three College of Piping Pipe Bands who will be competing at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. Karen is the Pipe Sergeant of the Grade 4 College of Piping Band under the leadership of Pipe Major Kylie MacHattie.
It has been with great pride and excitement that Karen has returned to Summerside where she attended Three Oaks Senior High and worked at Brothers Two restaurant as well as the Lady Slipper Visitor Information Centre where she greeted visitors while playing the bagpipes. All of Karen’s previous experience seems to have led her back to Summerside and The College of Piping. She brings a wealth of experience from the hospitality industry, pipe bands, and non-profit organizations. She has a lot of energy and a very positive attitude. She now shares her passion for the bagpipes and Celtic culture with the community at large and has enjoyed being part of the continued training and accomplishments of world champion solo pipers, dancers and bands. Karen wants The College of Piping to be a place where anyone, regardless of age or musical ability, can come to learn Highland Dancing, Step Dancing, Bagpipes or Drums and play in a band!
Director of Education - James MacHattie
James began piping in a youth pipe band in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and the formative experiences he enjoyed there have carried him to become one of Canada’s most respected active pipers. He played with the Edmonton Caledonia (now Alberta Caledonia) Pipe Band before moving to BC, where he played one year with the City of Victoria Pipe Band before joining the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band. With SFU he won the World Pipe Band Championship in 1996 and 1999, performed at Carnegie Hall and participated in two live recordings. In 2000 he moved to Toronto, and joined the Toronto Police Pipe Band. In 2004 he became the Pipe Major and led the band to North American Championship wins in 2004 and 2006. He played with the 78th Fraser Highlanders from 2007 to 2009 before moving back to BC.
James has enjoyed a successful career as a solo competitor, having won major prizes across Canada, the US, Scotland and France. He is a consistent prize winner in the Gold Medal contests at Oban and Inverness. In 2011 he won the Braemar Gold Medal, and in 2012 he won the A Grade piobaireachd at Cowal, and placed 5th in the Argyllshire Gathering Gold Medal.
He is an active composer, judge, performer and teacher, having taught at schools in BC, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia. Before working at The College, one of his proudest achievements in his piping career was working with the Robert Malcolm Memorial (Juvenile) Pipe Band from 1998 to 1999, culminating in the kids winning both the Juvenile World Pipe Band and Cowal Championships.
James holds an MA in Classical Studies from the University of British Columbia. He has worked in disparate areas, ranging from lecturing at the University of Toronto, to developing and producing business conferences, to working for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Highland Bagpipe Instructor
Kylie has been piping since the age of 7, and has been a member of Grade One bands since her mid teens. She played with the Vancouver Ladies, Triumph Street and Abbotsford Police pipe bands in BC before moving to Ontario in 2000. There she spent 6 seasons with the Toronto Police Pipe Band and three with the 78th Fraser Highlanders. In this time she was a member of the North American Championship winning band on 5 occasions. Kylie was a member of the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band in 2010.
She is an accomplished solo competitor, having placed as high as second in the Canadian Gold Medal for piobaireachd. She is highly regarded as an instructor, and her patient, supportive and detail-oriented teaching style is ideal for setting the foundation of excellence in early-stage pipers.
She is currently the Pipe Major of the College’s Grade 4 pipe band. Kylie holds a BA (Honours) in English from York University. She maintains The College’s blog and writes a bi-weekly column for the Summerside Journal Pioneer called Celtic Connection.
Sam Ramsay was born and raised in Summerside, and has been involved with The College of Piping since 2000. He first started taking drumming lessons at the age of 8, and has been very successful in the pipe band scene. Thanks to the Doug and Debbie Hall Scholarship program, Sam was able to receive lessons up until 2010. In 2006, The College of Piping Grade 4 Pipe Band won the North American Championships, which allowed Sam to travel to Scotland for the 2007 World Pipe Band Championship, when the band placed 4th. Sam has also had success as a solo drummer, winning the Grade 1 drumming aggregate at the North Americans in 2009. In March of 2014 he was invited to compete at the George Harrison Invitational Solo Drumming Contest in Hamilton, Ontario, where he placed 5th. He plans to continue competing and instructing and is excited to be part of The College of Piping team. He is a member of the Grade 3 Pipe Band and is the drumming instructor of the Grade 4 Pipe Band.
Kearsney Smith hails from Benoni, South Africa, and began dancing at the age of five and competing in Championship at the age of ten. She won her first South African Championship in 1999 at the age of eleven and then again in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2010. She has competed in Scotland and Canada since the age of ten, placing at the World Highland Dancing Championships three times.
In 2002, Kearsney was part of the South African team that went to perform at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo for Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee and was asked by the Canadian team the following year to join them; she has also performed in the Hamilton Tattoo in Ontario and the South African Tattoo. She has qualified for the Gauteng provincial team since 2000, when the Inter-Provincials were first held. After a 3 year hiatus, Kearsney competed in the 2013 Prince Edward Island Selection Competition and qualified for the 21 & Over Championship to represent Prince Edward Island at the ScotDance Canada Championship in Montreal.
Kearsney has performed in many choreography competitions and since qualifying as a Member of the Scottish Dance Teachers’ Alliance in 2009, she has both taught and choreographed in her mother's studio. In 2010, Kearsney took a professional choreography course, and is currently studying to do her Judges Exam in 2014. In 2012, Kearsney became the affiliate for ScotDance Prince Edward Island on the Board of Directors for ScotDance Canada.
Prior to coming to Summerside, Kearsney studied a Bachelor of Education and was a school teacher for two years. She is continuing her studies through the University of South Africa.
Chelsey was born and raised in York, PEI, and is currently studying kinesiology at the University of Prince Edward Island. She is thrilled to be able to start her teaching career at The College, and to be able to share her favourite activity with her students.
Chelsey started dancing at the age of two at Shirley’s Celtic Studio of Dance, where she studied and completed all levels of BATD step dancing. She has truly enjoyed the thrill of competing and performing ever since, and has been fortunate enough to compete and perform in various Ceilidhs and festivals all across Prince Edward Island, and to take her dancing a step farther when she performed as a step dancer/ singer in The College of Piping’s productions of Highland Storm in 2009 and 2010 under the direction of Stephanie Cadman. Chelsey has also performed in the Feast Dinner Theatre in the summers of 2012 and 2013 and is studying to take her Associate step dance instructors exam with BATD in January of 2014.
Being a part of both group and solo performances has allowed Chelsey to have many enlightening opportunities in her life, and she hopes to inspire her students the way her teachers always did. She is excited for all of the teaching and learning to come and wants to thank Shirley, Heather, Alana, her mom, and certainly The College of Piping and its entire staff for providing yet another opportunity in her life. Dancing is the voice you find when you don’t have the words to speak.
Mikaila is thrilled to join The College of Piping team as a step dance instructor. She has just finished performing in her first year of Highland Storm. She is a student of The College of Piping studying both advanced step dancing and bagpipes. Mikaila plays piano, clarinet, baritone, guitar, ukulele and studies voice. Mikaila has performed in several school and church musicals and recently competed in the East Prince Music Festival where she received 3 gold standard awards for voice. She is a resident of Travellers Rest and will be entering grade 10 this fall.
Emily is honoured to be joining The College of Piping team as a step dance instructor. Born and raised on PEI, Emily began step dancing at the age of 8 and joined The College in 2005. Performing has always been a huge part of Emily’s life from beginning piano lessons at an early age, being involved in countless choirs, festivals, and vocal ensembles, to playing clarinet in the UPEI Wind Symphony.