JJ Benson

JJ Benson

Founder/President

JJ is a loving husband and father of five kids, two adopted from foster care. He graduated from MTSU with a journalism degree and has played keyboards professionally for over 25 years. JJ has served as worship leader and is one of the four pastors at Resonate Church. Quote: "It's been such a joy to get to know the awesome kids of The Alcove and be a part of helping them discover their inner artists. We can't wait to develop this program on a larger scale with more kids of the Antioch community!"

Lauren Gray

Lauren Gray

Lead Music Coach

Lauren graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in music education and is a talented music teacher at Jonathan Edwards Academy and mother two three fantastic kids. She enjoys making music as a part of her church's worship team. Quote: "Being a part of The Alcove has been a wonderful reminder of the amazing things kids are capable of learning and doing."

Carrie Reeves

Carrie Reeves

Lead Art Coach

Carrie graduated from Austin Peay State University, where she majored in Art and double minored in Education and Psychology. She has taught art in public, private, charter and home school settings. Quote: "Getting to know the students at The Alcove has been a great experience and I am excited to continue! I have always enjoyed making art; I believe creativity is a gift God has given us to enjoy and use for his glory."

Jeff Pegues

Jeff Pegues

Music Coach

Jeff is a talented professional touring drummer/percussionist from Knoxville, TN who lives in Antioch. Quote: "I enjoy giving back to the community, getting to know the kids and see how they each communicate through their own rhythm of life. Very excited to be a part of what The Alcove stands for and is doing!"

Ricky Delacruz

Ricky Delacruz

Art Coach

Ricky is a freelance visual artist who has been drawing since kindergarten and painting professionally since 2012. Quote: "As an adult who grew up in circumstances that left me feeling orphaned and neglected, I am glad that there is a safe place for children to come and express themselves through artistic means."

Josh Merritt

Josh Merritt

Music Coach

Josh graduated from Whites Creek Comprehensive High School and studied biology at MTSU before going on tour playing bass guitar with Jazz Pianist Ben Tankard. Josh is an extremely gifted musician who has played bass professionally with numerous artists ranging from country to R&B. When not making music, Josh works for MNPS transportation.

Lauren Treftz

Lauren Treftz

Art Coach

Lauren joined the Army National Guard at 17 to pursue a career in public relations and photojournalism. After finishing her service, she took interest in sociology and therapeutic art expression at MTSU and is currently studying social work and theology. Quote: "The reason why I'm excited to help these kids is because I really needed The Alcove Music & Arts Academy when I was their age - I had a very challenging background and grew up in this area. I'm eager to present ways to overcome adversity with dignity, grace, self-reflection and creative expression as we all learn how to grow into our best selves."

Amelia Delacruz

Amelia Delacruz

Art Mentor

Amelia earned her bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently pursuing a masters in speech therapy. Quote: "In my years of experience with children, I have learned that when the wonder of a child is probed and exploration is facilitated, the love for learning grows. The Alcove has inspired me to not just be another adult authority figure in the classroom, but to be a peer, listening and supporting the students' ideas and creative expression."

Matt Gray

Matt Gray

Music & Art Mentor

Matt graduated from Austin Peay University in Business Administration, earned a Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is the Vice President of Operations for the Midsouth Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. He is a loving father of three and has spent the last 25 years working and leading in music in the church. Quote: "I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the joy and freedom in creating music and art."

Grace Waugh

Grace Waugh

Music Coach

Grace graduated from Belmont University with a degree in classical piano and a minor in entrepreneurship. She's spent the past 9 years in Nashville teaching piano lessons, teaching preschool music classes, writing songs, singing just about anything that comes to mind, and probably serving you coffee somewhere around town! Quote: "I so enjoy seeing the sense of wonder and fun that music study creates for the kids in The Alcove! It is truly powerful, and I feel fortunate to be a part of their beginning musical journeys. Music is transformative and connects us in a unique way regardless of age or background. I love that!"

Jordan Kavanaugh

Jordan Kavanaugh

Art Mentor

Jordan graduated from Western Kentucky University where she majored in popular culture studies and double minored in music and African American studies. Though she currently works at Manheim Auto Auction, her true passion is music. Quote: "Having gone to a performing arts school all my life, I want to make sure other kids the opportunities that I had growing up. The arts are so powerful in providing an outlet for kids and I'm excited to help them tap into their potential!"

John Billings

John Billings

Amy Billings

Amy Billings