Meet Aaron Shows: Composer and Canterbury Chapel Organist

“The point of the song is not to get to the last chord. The point of the song is to enjoy the music itself as it is happening.” This is Aaron Shows’ — Canterbury’s new chapel organist — advice about music and life. Aaron believes that music can offer numerous metaphors and meaning for life. This message of presence is an important lesson for all of us, young and old.  


Aaron Shows, Chapel Organist

Born in Montgomery, AL, Aaron started piano lessons at age 5 and was fortunate enough to have a teacher who fostered his love for music. He credits this teacher for his music career. 

Aaron began organ lessons as a high school student and went on to study organ at Duquesne University and Shenandoah University. He graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree in church music from Shenandoah University in 2011 and in 2013 earned master of fine arts degree in film music composition from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He has vast experience playing a variety of instruments, but his favorite to play — and compose on — are the piano and organ.

What is the difference between church music and the music in your favorite movie?

They are more similar than you might think, if you ask Aaron. “Both are intended to bring the listener into the moment and guide them in ways that words can’t always do alone. Both clergy and film directors collaborate with musicians to provide appropriate music for the church service or movie.”

That is just what he does. Aaron says he enjoys working with Father Finnin because he is good humored, a good leader, and good with children. Together, they create chapel services that are a core component of our children’s Canterbury experience.

Aaron notes that he doesn’t often get to play for 400 children — as an organist he has played mostly for adults. The experience of playing and the sound itself is completely different with children’s voices.

Another new experience for Aaron is playing on the Canterbury organ. “It is very different from any that I’ve played locally, acoustically it’s much like the organs I’ve played in Germany or France.”

Aaron also works as an accompanist at Greensboro Day School and as the organist at West Market Street United Methodist Church in Greensboro. Currently, he is pursuing publishing opportunities for some of his music compositions. He is thrilled to join the Canterbury community and is looking forward to the remainder of the liturgical year.

by Emily Wilson Brenner

Version 2Emily Wilson Brenner is parent to Benjamin (PreK-Copeland/Kaplan) and Fritz, wife to Kevin, a dance artist, and an instructor in Canterbury’s PreK Afternoon Adventures. Her favorite thing about Canterbury is the beautifully inspiring outdoor space. She likes yoga, dark chocolate, and a good cup of green tea. 


Meet the Woods Family!

Rarely does Canterbury have the opportunity to welcome a new family from overseas. This school year, however, one family has joined the Canterbury community directly from England.

Kay and Anthony Woods relocated with their daughters, Olwen (4th, Stagner) and Beatrice (2nd, McIlwain) as well as their cat, Polly, to Greensboro from their home in England. Anthony, a chemist by training, was born and raised in England and works in the wood coatings industry, which has a strong presence in the Triad due to its connection with the furniture industry. Kay spent some of her childhood, as well as her college years, in the United States. She is a graduate of Indiana University with a degree in Astrophysics. She has been self-employed for the last 10 years, writing books and articles for the childcare industry in the UK.

The Woods Family

The Woods Family

Upon discovering that their family would be relocating to the Triad for Anthony’s job, the Woods traveled to Greensboro to find a home and a school for Olwen and Beatrice. The Woods toured four schools.

“We all fell in love with Canterbury,” Kay says.

The Woods are thrilled with the small class sizes and the individualized attention the school is able to provide. The girls are settling in well. They enjoy school and are finding that their experience at Canterbury is rather similar to school in England.

Olwen participates in the Crazy Running club and enjoys swimming at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. She is enthusiastic about the Genius Hour Projects in which she has participated. She also was one of the winners of the Book Fair reading contest!

Beatrice has enjoyed the CBG (Caught Being Good) points, which Ms. McIlwain issues in class. Beatrice loves gymnastics and spends her extra time practicing at Tumblebees. The highlight of Beatrice’s year so far, however, has been in music class. She was allowed to teach her class an English song, along with the associated motions, titled I Am a Lighthouse. Once the class mastered the song, they performed for the entire school in chapel service.

As a family, the Woods love to go cycling and have explored the Greenway trails. They also have enjoyed the Greensboro Science Center, Country Park and the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park — as well as the lovely weather. They do miss some of the food from England, but Kay said that they are making up for that by learning to love some of the wonderful American foods to which they are not accustomed. In fact, they recently celebrated their very first Thanksgiving — complete with turkey and all the trimmings — in Ohio with Kay’s best friend from high school.

We welcome this wonderful family to Greensboro and to the Canterbury community!

by Martha Newton

martha portraitMartha Newton is a full-time mother of two and volunteer. She is new to the Canterbury community with a daughter in Pre-K. When she is not chauffeuring children or volunteering somewhere, Martha enjoys baking, sewing, and spending time with her family.

Meet the Witherspoon Family!

From time to time, we like to introduce new families to the Canterbury community. I recently had the pleasure of getting to know one of Canterbury’s newest families —the Witherspoons. Take a moment to read about the Witherspoon family, and next time you see them on campus, say hello!
You have three lovely daughters. Please tell us about your family.
My husband, David and I have been married for almost 17 years. We have three daughters: Rachel (13), Megan (10), and Emily (8). Our oldest attends Brown Summit Magnet Middle School for Advanced Learners. Megan and Emily are both new students at Canterbury this year. David grew up in Gibsonville and I grew up in Lenoir, NC, near Hickory. While I was attending UNCG, David was also attending graduate school there.
What attracted you to Canterbury School? How are you liking the school so far?
We have many friends and fellow church members who have children attending Canterbury and we had always heard great things about it. Last winter, when we knew our girls needed something different, we visited Canterbury. Libba LaFave spent a couple hours on a very cold morning showing us around the campus and telling us all about what the students were learning. As we looked in classrooms we saw students who were engaged and excited as well as teachers who were happy and enthusiastic. From the moment we stepped on campus we felt welcomed. So far this year, we have not been disappointed. Our girls are happy and they are learning. We have all been embraced by Canterbury students, staff, and families.
Lisa and David have been married for almost 17 years. They have three daughters: Rachel (13), Megan (10), and Emily (8). Rachel attends Brown Summit Magnet Middle School for Advanced Learners. Megan and Emily are both new students at Canterbury this year.

Lisa and David have been married for almost 17 years. They have three daughters: Rachel (13), Megan (10), and Emily (8). Rachel attends Brown Summit Magnet Middle School for Advanced Learners. Megan and Emily are both new students at Canterbury this year.

 What does your family like to do for fun? Like most families, we are always on the go!!  We are very involved in our church and we love to spend time with family. We like to travel whenever we have the opportunity.

What has been your family or child’s favorite Canterbury moment or tradition thus far? 
Since we have only been at Canterbury for a little over two months, we haven’t yet had the opportunity to experience many of the traditions, but we loved the family picnic. It was a beautiful day and lots of fun. Megan has enjoyed having the opportunity to read scripture in chapel and Emily loves using the iPad. My personal favorite and a memory that really sums up our experience so far happened on the second day of school. I asked Megan who she sat with at lunch. She answered, “My group.” I thought that perhaps she meant an assigned group of students, but she answered, “No, mom. My group. You know, my friends,” and then proceeded to name them. Second day of 5th grade at a new school and she already had “a group!”
What are your daughters’ favorite things? What kinds of activities do they like? How would you describe them? 
Rachel, our 8th grader who attends Brown Summit Middle, is creative, but pragmatic. She has been taking horseback riding lessons for several years and has just started playing soccer. Like all 8th grade families, we are in the throes of making decisions about high school. Megan, our 5th grader, is a bundle of energy! She is very friendly and loves to be silly. She plays soccer and takes horseback rising lessons. She would much rather do math or put together a jigsaw puzzle than read a book! Emily, our 3rd grader, is a sweet and caring girl. She loves to spend time with her friends and, at home, enjoys playing with her dollhouse and Barbie dolls. She takes piano lessons and loves shopping.
Could you tell us about your place(s) of employment, church affiliation, etc.? David works for Honeywell as the VP of Commercial Corporate Accounts. His job involves a lot of traveling and he is often in a different city each week! After being a stay at home mom for 11 years, our church, First Presbyterian, asked me to fill in as the part time Interim Director for Children’s Ministries for a couple months. That was in February of 2014 and I’m still there!
What is your hope for your children while they are at Canterbury?
Of course we want our children to learn and have academic success throughout their school years. However, we also want them to do their learning in an environment where they feel safe, loved, and valued. We also want them to gain life skills beyond academics that will carry them through life and help them become successful adults.

by Andrea Crossley Spencer

Spencer_2014_073Andrea Crossley Spencer is a Canterbury parent to McKenna (5th-Vogel) and Kellen (PreK-Copeland/Kaplan), an author represented by Maria Carvainis agency, and cofounder of Tigermoth Creative.  She also serves as a Writopia creative writing instructor in Canterbury’s After School Fine Arts program. Her favorite Canterbury tradition is Chapel Buddies.