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Music Department Staff

Mr. Spencer Caldwell Director

Mr. Caldwell is a native of San Diego and graduated from Carlsbad HS where he managed to take every music class available. From Choir to Jazz Bands. His biggest influence was his director Rick Lorenzen. Who with one phone call changed his life, Mr. Caldwell was not only accepted to SDSU but treated like an athlete star. Mr Caldwell hopes that he too can affect a moment like this for all of his students. Mr. Caldwell studied music at San Diego State University where he was an active music student with Marching Bands, Concert Bands, Jazz bands, and jazz combos. Mr. Caldwell paid for his entire college education by teaching private lessons and performing in musicals throughout San Diego County. He has had opportunities to play with the likes of Chubby Checker, the Rockets, Chuck Findly, Charles McPherson and Eric Merinthol to name a few. He had major performance opportunities as well with Super Bowl XXIV, Holiday Bowl and Charger Football Games. Most recently Mr. Caldwell has played for the last 3 of 4 NCAA basketball tournaments for both USD, and SDSU taking him to Las Vegas. Providence Rhode Island and Stanford.

Mr. Caldwell began his professional teaching career as a student teacher at Helix High School where he directed and guest performed for their “Pops” concert. His first assignment was at Montgomery Middle/High School (South Bay). Earning "Teacher of the Year" in 1996. Mr. Caldwell then joined the Hillsdale Staff in 1997. The community, school, and students have for the last 14 years shown it's dedication and commitment to the arts. The formation of HMDPA is unique to middle school and is the pride and joy of the Hillsdale Community. Mr. Caldwell has continued to find professional success with runner up to teacher of the year in 2002 , CMEA "Jazz Educator of the Year" in 2003, and "Teacher of the Year" in 2005. Mr. Caldwell outside of Hillsdale is an active member of CMEA as the San Diego County Middle School Honor Band. Served as adjudicator the Middle School band festival, Grossmont High School District Honor Band auditions, and the CMEA Honor Band for last 10 years.

Mrs. Monica Disselkoen
Assistant Director

Mrs. Disselkoen grew up in Iowa and moved to San Diego in 2016 for her husband to go to grad school at UCSD.  Growing up, she was surrounded by music and sought every possible opportunity to get involved.  She started violin and piano at the same, but later switched to string bass (the superior string instrument).  She added on French horn in 5th grade and then trumpet for Pep Band in high school.  With playing these instruments, she was able to participate in several local and state honor bands, orchestras, and choirs.  In high school, Mrs. Disselkoen was one of two accompanists for a nearby college choir, and she continued accompanying choirs all through college.  At her alma mater Dordt College, she managed to be in every single ensemble at some point (4 choirs, 2 bands, a jazz band, and 3 small instrumental ensembles).  She graduated with a B.A. in Music Education: K-12, Choral/Instrumental and found a job at Hillsdale Middle school shortly after.  She is excited to be able to work with Hillsdale students and help them find their love and passion for music.

Mr. Casey Hernandez Assistant Director

Mr. Hernandez is a graduate of  the Hillsdale Middle School Music Program and we are honored to have him as part of this department as the Assistant Music Director and Choir Director.

Mr. Hernandez began conducting as a senior at Valhalla High School with the Chamber Choir. He studied both instrumental and vocal music, performing with the VHS Instrumental and Vocal departments. While still in high school he was hired to teach Elementary Band and Choir at Dehesa Elementary. Mr. Hernandez has been on staff at VHS teaching music theory and is currently the Vocal Director for Theater in addition to being the Brass Coach at Steele Canyon High School. He is also serving as the Middle School Honor Band Coordinator for the California Music Educators Association. Mr. Hernandez has been an active performer in San Diego as part of the USD Choir, USD Pep Band, Cuyamaca Choir, Cuyamaca Concert Band, The Jazz Ensemble, Bone-A-Fide Brass, San Diego Concert Band, Pomerado Community Band, Christian Community Theater's orchestra for Les Miserables, SDSU Aztec Concert Choir, and SDSU Wind Symphony. He was also a featured trombone soloist with the East County Youth Symphony.

Currently Mr. Hernandez is studying music at SDSU to further his career.

Ms. Kaitlyn Bell
Percussion Director

Ms. Bell is a graduate of  the Hillsdale Middle School Music Program and we are excited for her to join in providing opportunities for young musicians.

Ms. Bell has a total of 15 years of musical experience, and has spent the last 10 years pursuing percussion in both concert and marching settings.  During this time frame, she has been a member of nine honor groups at the district, state, and national levels.  She has worked as a paid instrumentalist in the East County Youth Symphony, and performed in a wide variety of venues and states.  Most notable of which is Carnegie Hall in Manhattan, New York. 

Ms. Bell has received private lessons from Jonathan Haas, the timpanist for Philip Glass and percussion instructor at NYU, among others, performed over ten high level concert percussion pieces, composed and performed original music for percussion ensemble, and competed in the WGI World Championships for marching percussion in Dayton, Ohio.

Currently she is working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education while serving as an instructor and clinician in various scholastic music programs throughout Southern California.