Degrees and Certifications:

BA in Flute Performance, McNeese State University, 1990 MM in Instrumental Conducting, New Mexico State University, 1995 K-12 Ed. Certification, University of Texas at El Paso, 1997

Mrs. Gwen Rakoff

I was born and raised in Lake Charles, LA, but relocated to Las Cruces, NM, soon after graduating from McNeese State University.  I spent the next sixteen years living and working in Las Cruces and El Paso, TX.  I met my husband at New Mexico St. University, where we were both students.  We were married in 1996 and have two boys.

We moved to Madison, AL, in the fall of 2008 when my husband, Nikolas took a job with a Defense Contractor in Huntsville.  I am very happy to be back in the South.  My family and I enjoy all of the cultural, sporting, and educational attractions of the Huntsville area.

  • In 1993, I moved to Las Cruces, NM to take a position as a Graduate Assistant in the Music Department of New Mexico State University.  I taught undergraduate music classes and flute lessons and assisted with the Pride of New Mexico Marching Band. 
  • From 1993 until 2004, I was an adjunct professor at Dona Anna Community College in Las Cruces, NM, where I taught Music Appreciation and Intro to Music classes.
  • I began my public school teaching career in 1995 in El Paso, TX, at Henderson Middle School, where I taught Band and General Music classes for three years.
  • In 1998, I transferred to Gadsden High School in Anthony, TX.  I conducted the Symphonic and Concert Bands as well as the Marching Band.  In January of 2000, my marching band was invited to participate in the Cotton Bowl Parade and Bowl Game in Dallas, TX.
  • From the Fall of 2000 until 2008, I taught in the Las Cruces Public Schools system in Las Cruces, NM.  I taught band, choir, and general music classes at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. 
  • After a family move to Alabama in 2008, I took over the band program at Liberty Middle School; where I taught for fourteen years.  I left LMS in 2023 with the opening of Journey Middle School.
  • I'm very excited to be the first Band Director at Journey Middle