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St. James Academy is made up of talented and inspiring teachers who have dedicated their careers to our school, and Valerie Leonhart Smalkin is no exception. During her twenty-one year tenure as our Music Director, her talent and love for music were evident as she worked with our students and children throughout the Mid-Atlantic area.

Mrs. Smalkin, a ventriloquist, musician, composer, educator, lawyer, and writer, grew up in a musical familySpringtime dance cd at St. James Academy whose Sunday night tradition was to entertain anyone who would listen with songs and music. As the parent of Fred and Kate Smalkin, Mrs. Smalkin discovered her passion for children and eventually her two loves came together when she fashioned a career as a performer for children in schools. As Silly Goose & Val Mrs. Smalkin, to this day, tours schools, libraries, and live stage theaters with her puppets, marionettes, comedy, and music.

Springtime Dance is a 32 page, full color, offset-printed, hard-back book with an accompanying CD authored by Mrs. Smalkin and illustrated by Kimberly Hopkins of khopdesigns, LLC. The book will be available from publisher Small Kin Music ( on May 31, 2014. Mrs. Smalkin wrote the song, Springtime Dance, in 2013, then met Mrs. Hopkins, an instructor in graphic arts at Towson University. Mrs. Hopkins spent one year developing the illustrations and now their book is ready to lead children on a hummin’, peepin’, growin’, squirmin’, and nestin’ and dancin’ reading adventure. This book is a must-read for toddlers and up!