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Camp Instructors



Jessica Andrews

Jessica Andrews is a Baltimore-based artist and educator with a passion for arts integration and studio-based learning. She has taught at the Smithsonian Summer Camp since 2015, at after-school programs and in schools in Baltimore City, and in the Maryland Science Center DIY space. Jessica received her BFA in Art Education from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts. When not teaching art, Jessica can be found knitting, hiking, or swing dancing around the DMV.

Dawn Arkinson-Red Cloud

Dawn Arkinson-Red Cloud is an enrolled member of the Chippewa-Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy, Montana and has descendancy from the Blackfeet and Nakota Sioux tribes and has knowledge of all three cultures. Dawn has an education in Lakota Studies, Tribal Law, and Social Work. She is married to Darrell Red Cloud and has resided among the Lakota people for almost nine years, learning of the language and culture.


Danny Cackley

Danny Cackley is a teacher and actor in Washington DC. He teaches Shakespeare and Stage Combat for Shakespeare Theatre Company, as wells as physical exam maneuvers and empathy to first-year medical students at George Washington University.

Patrick Carter

Patrick Carter is a studio artist and Art Education graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. Patrick works mostly in textiles and currently teaching weaving and yarn dyeing classes at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond.

Donna Casteux

Donna Casteux believes that her role as a 21st century teacher is to guide students in their search for knowledge and equip them with the necessary tools to find answers to their own questions. Donna has been a classroom teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools for over 7 years, and a classroom teacher for over 20 years in Texas. Her focus has been on science, math and technology. Donna wants students beyond the surface level thinking, into the creative world of evaluation, analysis and synthesis in order for them to obtain problem solving and reasoning skills at all levels.

Sarah Conte

Sarah is a local properties artisan and stage manager. She has worked with theatre companies all over DC, including Theater Alliance, WSC Avant Bard, Constellation Theatre Company, Theater J, Longacre Lea, Faction of Fools, Round House Theatre, Faction of Fools, American Century, The Hub Theatre, and Imagination Stage.

Meredith Cosier

Meredith Cosier has been teaching digital art, video games, and other arts camps with the Smithsonian Associates for seven years. During the school year she teaches art and STEAM courses with elementary school students in Fairfax County.


Lucy Dirksen

Lucy Dirksen is a DC native illustrator, jewelry designer, and art teacher for Kindergarten-8th grade at St. Mary’s Landover Hills, MD. Her current watercolor project is a children’s book: Patches and the Baby Bunny, by Cathy D. Knepper, Ph.D. Her website is


Jasmine Fountain

Jasmine Fountain is returning for her third summer as a Smithsonian Summer Camp instructor. The rest of the year, she is an elementary art teacher in Virginia Beach, VA. Jasmine specializes in crafts and sculpture, but also has a passion for digital arts including Video Game Design. Jasmine comes from a family of educators and has always had a passion for knowledge whether it's related to art or not. Jasmine describes herself as a museum nerd, as she loves to learn new things. Her friends compare her to the Harry Potter character, Luna Lovegood. She is a quirky free spirit with a good heart and is very perceptive.

Brooke Friday

Brooke Friday recently received her BA at American University where she studied Education and Theater. She has designed and taught camps in Rhode Island for 2 summers. Brooke is passionate about sharing her love for Museums and learning with her students and looks forward to returning to her third year at the Smithsonian Camps.


Al Gaspar

Al Gaspar uses his carpentry and diorama-making skills in shop classes, adult education, and at Smithsonian camps. He encourages all ages to participate in his classes with the use of miniature settings, history, literature, and humor. Since 2001 he continues to teach and build miniature battlefields for the Soldiers and Dioramas camps.


Tyler Herman

Tyler Herman is a Silver Spring native, who has been acting, directing, writing, and teaching theatre professionally for the past ten years. He is currently directing Office of the Speaker at the Capital Fringe Festival, and recently received his MFA in Acting from Brown University/Trinity Rep. Tyler has also acted at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Imagination Stage, Adventure Theatre-MTC, Faction of Fools Theatre Company, and more. Like Drew, Tyler loves board games!

Nick Hernandez

Nick Hernandez teaches music production and improvisational writing with the non-profit Urban Arts Academy (WBL Inc.) and DC Public Libraries. He has composed and performed live for several venues, including the Kennedy Center, Imagination Stage, Wolftrap Performing Arts Center, Children’s National Medical Center, Fox News, and the Smithsonian.

Margaret Huey

Margaret Huey is an illustrator, comic artist, and recent graduate from the Maryland Institute College of Art, specializing in work using ink, gouache, and digital mediums. She loves bringing global narratives into the classroom with comics and creative applications! Currently, Margaret is also organizing Malulee's Kitchen, an illustrated cookbook and series of cooking lessons all about Asian-American food in the Baltimore-DC Area. She loves teaching at Smithsonian Summer Camps and can't wait to get started with this year's camps!

Sarah Huffman

Sarah Huffman is a current student at the University of Virginia pursuing a degree in Political Philosophy, Policy and Law. Aside from her work with the Smithsonian Summer Camp program, she has worked extensively with the Virginia Science Olympiad organization to help coordinate state and regional science tournaments for middle and high school aged students. In her spare time, she manages her own small business dedicated to fiber art.


John Judy

John Judy is a DC area actor-writer-director who has performed on stages here as well as in Los Angeles and Chicago. His more notable credits include House of Cards, Homicide: Life on the Street and writing and performing in over 150 original sketch shows at the IO West Theatre in Hollywood. In DC, John has taught at Imagination Stage (formerly BAPA), and the Rockville Jewish Community Center and performs on-going role of the Detective in Murder Mystery USA's touring company.


Brendan Edward Kennedy

Brendan Edward Kennedy is an actor and singer based out of Silver Spring. He has previously worked as a mentor with the youth summer camps at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church in Hickory, MD. He was a writer and performer in Sketchup, University of Maryland’s sketch comedy troupe.

Oscar Keyes

Oscar Keyes is a doctoral student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Art Education, who looks at the historical use of the camera in education. Currently, he teaches courses at VCU on photography, time-based arts, and technology in the arts classroom. During the summers, he works with young makers at film camps and digital arts workshops across the southeast.

Randall Knol

Randall Knol has a master’s degree in System Design with an emphasis in professional training using gamification. Randy also earned a certification for teaching dance from Novikoff School of Russian-American Ballet and was a teacher and performer for two decades. His current position involves mentoring and developing programs for retraining technical staff in new technologies at US Census and data administration. Randy is a columnist for Prehistoric Times, a magazine dedicated to dinosaur enthusiasts, and is member of the Society of Vertebrate Planetology.

Taliesin Knol

Taliesin has been working in the Smithsonian Summer Camp diorama classes for more than 10 years, covering topics from pre-history to WWII and almost everything in between. During the school year, Taliesin teaches more diorama and history classes at Compass Homeschool Enrichment in Oakton, Virginia.

Drew Kopas

Drew Kopas is professional actor originally from Cleveland who has performed throughout the District/Maryland/Virginia area. You may have seen onstage at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Wolloy Mammoth Theatre Company, Theatre J, Constellation Theatre, Faction of Fools, Olney Theatre Center, Keegan Theatre, Everyman Theatre, Capital Fringe Festival, or Clown Cabaret. He holds an MFA in Acting from Western Illinois University and teaches bedside manner, empathy and physical exam maneuvers to first-year medical students at George Washington University.


Tara Stallworth Lee

Tara Stallworth Lee is a visual artist specializing in papermaking, book arts, and analog photography. Tara lives and works in Birmingham, Alabama where she is a resident artist at Ground Floor Contemporary, arts educator, and former Arts Education Coordinator for Space One Eleven, a visual arts non-profit. She has enjoyed teaching specialty art classes to youth for over fifteen years.

Sara Hashem Liles

Sara Hashem Liles teaches AP Language and IB Drama at Richard Montgomery High School in Montgomery County, MD. She has a background in theater and creative writing.


Matthew McGee

Matthew McGee has been performing and designing all over the stages of the Washington, D.C. area for the last 6 years and loves teaching others about all things related to the arts. He has guest taught for high schools and camps and has been an instructor for the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Georgetown.

Luke Meeken

Luke Meeken has been teaching digital art and video game camps with the Smithsonian Associates for seven years now. He used to be a high school graphic arts teacher in Hanover County, VA, but is now a doctoral student in Art Education at Penn State.

Deborah Merrick-Wilson

Deborah Merrick-Wilson is a professional instructor of precious metal embroidery with 30+ years of teaching individuals and groups in guild, retail, seminar, and university settings. Her credentials include recipient of Certification With Distinction from the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace and the National Needlearts Association's 30th anniversary Jubilee award for contributions to the industry. She is currently a docent and reader at the Folger Shakespeare Library where she is researching 16th and 17th century embroidered book bindings.


Julie Near

Julie Near is a scientist and educator who is currently teaching in the Fairfax Co. school system. Her graduate work at University College London and UC Berkeley focused on environmental archaeology, and she gathered dissertation research from excavations in Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey. She is a Virginia Master Naturalist, and loves using her science background to help excite students of all ages about the natural world.

Molly Norrbom

Molly teaches 6th grade Language Arts in Prince George, Virginia. Besides teaching, she loves experimenting with paint and other media, reading and writing, exploring her neighborhood in Richmond, and studying the physics of flight through Ultimate Frisbee.


Rachel Pendergrass

Rachel Pendergrass is a writer, performer, and science communicator. She is the producer of the internationally touring Solve for X Variety Show, one of the co-producers of Nerd Nite DC, and a regular guest speaker on the science track of multiple science fiction conventions. She teaches playwriting, performance, and sketch comedy through the Educational Theatre Company, and has created educational science content for Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta Science Festival, George Mason University, and more.

Psalmayene 24

Psalmayene 24 is an accomplished director, playwright, and actor. He is the creator of Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth, P.Nokio: A Hip-Hop Musical, and Cinderella: The Remix (three critically acclaimed plays for young audiences collectively known as The Hip-Hop Children's Trilogy). He is currently the Master Teaching Artist at Arena Stage.


Darrell Red Cloud

Darrell Red Cloud is Oglala Lakota from the Sioux people of South Dakota. He is a language instructor at Oglala Lakota College as well as a National Park Ranger at Mount Rushmore.

Kathryn Rickards

Kathryn Rickards is currently completing her BFA in Art Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. During the academic year, she helps teach the Art Education department’s middle school contemporary art workshop, Investigation Now, and volunteers as a mentor at a local elementary school. She primarily works as a painter, but is also interested in new media.


Anuraag Sensharma

Anuraag is a high school physics teacher at the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program in Arlington. Outside of physics, he enjoys playing the clarinet and piano, and is excited to explore the connections between scientific and artistic experiences.

Lynn Sharp-Spears

Lynn Sharp-Spears is a professional director, performer, teacher, and designer in the DC metro area and has collaborated with many performing arts organizations including The Kennedy Center, The National Theater, Studio Arts, and more. Her film and television work include production design and casting for the Learning Channel, Discovery, National Geographic, and more.

Betty Simmons

Betty Simmons has been a working photographer and educator of photography for over 30 years, with experience in all forms of analog and digital photography. She has a special love for alternative and historical photography techniques, including infa-red. She has been a Smithsonian Associate instructor since 2005.

Ashlyn Sinclair

Ashlyn Sinclair has worked as a teacher for 7 years. She enjoys running and hiking. Her goal this year is to hike the C&O Canal (up and back).

Brie N. Smith

Brie N. Smith is a design instructor at Arizona State University, and an award-winning architect. Passionate about design that brings people together, she is excited by collaboration and community outreach. Brie is also a maker, utilizing 3D printing and cutting-edge technologies to create jewelry, accessories, and furniture.

Crista Noel Smith

Crista Noel Smith is a British-born and trained artist, puppet maker, and award-winning theatre designer with a passion for story, craft, and unusual history. She works as a set and props designer in the DC theatre. She works as a maker and teacher in the US and UK.

Jack Smith

Jack Smith is a freelance writer, game designer, and amateur magician.

Mundy Spears

Mundy Spears is a professional dancer, singer, and actress in the DC metro area. She has taught movement, dance, yoga, and strength for more than a decade to young people aged 3 to 18.


Harmony Tahy

Harmony Tahy is a 7th grade U.S. History teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools and is a member of the local 4H. She loves teaching middle schoolers and baking. In fact, Harmony has been a successful repeat competitor in her home state for the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest.


Robin Weiner

Robin Weiner is a recent graduate of American University where she studied Theater and Art History. She works as a professional freelance artist and theater maker, and has worked as an art teacher for K-8 students in Prince George's County. Robin is thrilled to share her love and knowledge of the arts with the students of the Smithsonian Camps this summer!