Director – Janet L. Van Valey
Janet L. Van Valey - Director
Janet L. Van Valey holds both a Bachelors and Masters degree in music and has taught choral music at the middle school and high school levels. In addition, she has served as the Music Director for numerous denominations over the past 40 years.
Jan is the founding director of the Kalamazoo Ringers, starting the group in 1981. She has worked with handbells since 1978 when she began her studies with Donald Allured. She is an active member of the Handbell Musicians of America, currently serving as the Chair for Area V.
As an experienced teacher and director, Jan has served as an inservice instructor for schools, as a clinician for handbell workshops, state music education meetings, Choristers Guild, and denominational church conferences. She has also been a guest conductor for many massed bell festivals and conferences and has been a handbell consultant for Malmark handbells for more than 25 years.
Ringers 2017-2018 Season
Holly Borowiak joined the Kalamazoo Ringers in 2014. She started playing bells in her Detroit church in 1973 and has remained passionate about her bell choir participation for years. Holly holds degrees in Business Management and Social Work from EMU. Four years ago her family transitioned to Kalamazoo. Currently she is learning to garden and enjoys several animals which include dogs, cats and the most recent addition of urban chickens. Holly has three grown children and three grandchildren.
Karol Dill joined the Kalamazoo Ringers as a charter member in 1981. She has three daughters and seven grandchildren. In the summer time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends at her place on Lake Erie. She is retired from the Portage School system.
After learning how to ring handbells at our church 27 years ago, in the spring of 2004, I fulfilled my dream of becoming a Kalamazoo Ringer! And I have found every Tuesday night practice a time to meet wonderful friends, learn to "step beyond my comfort zone" and grow in my mastery of ringing skills. Besides ringing hand bells in three choirs and directing two of them, I also just retired from 25 years of teaching 7th and 8th grade Social Studies at Portage West Middle School. And the job I have instead is the joy of my life...being a full time "Granny Nanny" for our four month old grandson who lives in Kalamazoo. I'm married to the most wonderful man in the whole world and Dave attends all of our Kalamazoo Ringers Concerts with enthusiasm and never ending support. Dave and I now have three grand babies all born in the year 2017. During the summer months, I enjoy teaching swimming lessons, gardening, relaxing in the sun, and doing really hard jigsaw puzzles at our summer cottage. I'll see you all at the next Kalamazoo Ringers concert.
Julie Jursinic joined the Kalamazoo Ringers in 2016. She has been ringing bells in her church choirs for about seven years, including four years with her daughter. She directs the US nutrition labeling regulatory team at Kellogg’s in Battle Creek. She and her husband have two grown sons and enjoy spending time with them and their families, as well as their daughter. She also enjoys gardening and reading.
Melissa Kelley joined the Kalamazoo Ringers in 2010. She had been ringing about seven years in two different church handbell choirs. She is a single mom of a daughter and a son who also play handbells at church. She has taught gymnastics for the last 26+ years and enjoys all things crafty.
Steve Lieberman joined the Kalamazoo Ringers in 2011. He also rings and sings in choirs at Milwood UMC in Kalamazoo. He has a BA in Music from Western Michigan University as a saxophonist and also an MS in Accountancy from Western. In his free time he enjoys video games, playing cards with friends, and needlework.
Karen Lorenz joined the Kalamazoo Ringers in 2013. She has been ringing bells for ten years since starting with her youngest daughter in a bell group at church. She has three grown daughters and teaches 8th grade language Arts in Paw Paw. She enjoys reading, going to the beach, and spending time with her girls.
Nancy Reile joined the Kalamazoo Ringers in 2011 after playing in her church handbell choir for many years. She is an active member of the Kalamazoo Weavers Guild and after retiring after a long career in information technology is interested in a variety of other arts and crafts such as sewing, knitting and beading. She and her husband have two adult daughters.
Chris Teugh joined the Kalamazoo Ringers in 2008. She was introduced to handbells in 1981 and played off and on in choirs and ensembles in Colorado and Michigan. Chris has a background in chemical and pharmaceutical research but currently she is the library's secretary at a local high school. When not making music, she enjoys boating and fishing with her family.
John Thomas joined the Kalamazoo Ringers in 2015. He has been playing handbells off and on since 1984. He played French horn in an army band and was a band director before going back to school to start a career as a mechanical engineer. Currently, he works at Conn-Selmer in Elkhart, Indiana, where musical instruments are made. In his spare time he enjoys reading, music, and spending time with his wife and their cats.
Tom Van Valey joined the Kalamazoo Ringers as a charter member in 1981. He was introduced to handbells in 1978 when he was asked to “help out” by ringing bass bells in a church choir and he has not stopped ringing since. He was a university sociology professor for 37 years until he retired in 2007. Now, in addition to handbells, he reads a lot of science fiction, travels, plays golf, and works on sculptures – mostly stone.
Barb Woodrow joined the Kalamazoo Ringers as a charter member in 1981. She and her husband have two children and four grandchildren. They enjoy boating and golf, watching spectator sports, spending time at their cottage in Traverse City and spending time with their children and grandchildren. Her husband is a retired teacher and coach and she is an interior designer at a decorating center.
Jennifer Heeres joined the Kalamazoo Ringers in 2017. She has been ringing bells in various church choirs for over 24 years. Professionally, she is a sign language interpreter that travels around West Michigan. Personally, she and her husband have 3 sons that keep her very busy. She enjoys quilting and reading in her spare time.
Cari Miller joined the Kalamazoo Ringers in 2017. She began ringing bells in her church handbell choir as a substitute, before ringing full time last year. She received her bachelors and masters degrees in music education from Western Michigan University. Currently, she teaches fifth grade in Paw Paw, Michigan. In her spare time she enjoys playing the piano, singing, reading books, golfing, and watching football
Sarai (pronounced Sara) joined Kalamazoo Ringers in 2017. As a Minister of Music at First Presbyterian church in Niles MI, she is also the organist and directs the choir and handbells. When not making music, Sarai loves to read and spend time with family. A self-avowing health nut, she enjoys cooking and exercise, especially swimming and biking.
Monica joined KR in January of 2017, after ringing in church choirs since she was a young girl. While not playing with KR she enjoys collecting and reading books, making art in multiple mediums, and cooking for her family.
Another Side of Our KR Ringers
Hanging out While on tour 2017
Nancy, Steve, Karen and Chris
2017-2018 Group Photos
2016 -2017 Group Photos
2015-2016 Group Photos
Former Kalamazoo Ringers
Hanging out While on tour 2017
Nancy, Steve, Karen and Chris