Sue Altenburg is a PPA Certified Master Photographer and graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography. She has operated a photography studio in Las Vegas for over 30 years and specializes in portraiture.
Jessica Andrews has recently completed her degree in Art Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. Now in her second summer with the Smithsonian, she also works with adult men at the Richmond City Justice Center during the school year.
Abagail Beddall is a multi-media artist who moved to Pittsburgh, PA after receiving her BFA from Penn State University. Beddall supports emerging artists as the residency coordinator at Bunker Projects, an artist residency and gallery, as well as teaching art in the city of Pittsburgh. For the past 2 years, she has taught with the Smithsonian Camps program, and she is excited to return for a 3rd year!
Alexandra Beddall got her bachelor’s degree in Media Studies at Penn State University. Since then, she has worked in the film and television industry in New York City, Connecticut, and Austin, making her own films. Alex also has a strong background in storytelling and crafting. She looks forward to returning to her childhood home city to teach at her favorite museum, the Museum of Natural History.
Sam Berner is a Pittsburgh based artist, formally trained in ceramics; he shifted to paint over the past 6 years. He focuses on working collaboratively with others as he finds his work has more depth when working along someone else. He has been teaching art camps for the Smithsonian since summer 2015.
Melinda Brady has degrees in environmental and evolutionary biology. She currently works as a teacher and volunteer at local elementary schools.
Shannon Brady has completed a BFA in Art Education program at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has experience with camp direction and created a free program for middle schoolers in the city of Richmond emphasizing the positive impact of arts-related careers. She is also an artist working primarily in pen and ink illustrations.
Laura Carew has over fifteen years of experience teaching Kindergarten to third grade. She currently teaches first grade at the Alexandria Country Day School.
Halley Carroll is a seven-year-veteran summer camp instructor who during the year leads her middle school in enrichment after school STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programming as well as she is head of the Language Arts department. Halley has recently co-authored the “Ecosystems on the Edge” Guide for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
Donna Cato 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.
Kendall Chandler is an art educator who graduated with a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2014. Her personal artwork explores the concepts of dreams, joy, memory, nature, and circularity. Favorite pastimes include gardening, painting, and playing the ukulele. Ms. Chandler prioritizes connection, kindness, experimentation, and effort in her classroom above all else.
Ashley Christopher has been teaching elementary art for six years with Fairfax County Public Schools.
Meredith Cosier is a K-6 art teacher in Fairfax County. She graduated with two BFA degrees from VCU and is also currently the curriculum designer with the Art Education Department’s Currentlab. This is her fourth year teaching digital and art camps with the Smithsonian.
Lauren Currie is an elementary school teacher with Fairfax County Public Schools and has taught in both Virginia and New Jersey. She has also been a coach for Girls on the Run. This will be her third summer working with the Smithsonian Summer Camp.
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 www.lfdstudios.com.
Damisha Drakes is a six year veteran as a summer camp instructor. She chairs her school’s STEM implementation project, is a science department chair and community leader for her school, and an accomplished Zumba instructor.
Cecilia Ebitz received her BFA in sculpture from Penn State University in 2011. Working with a range of ages, she has taught various forms of sculpture and creative play. Currently, Cecilia creates arts opportunities for other emerging artists at Bunker Projects, a residency and gallery space she co-founded in Pittsburgh, PA.
Belen Edwards is currently studying literature at the University of Chicago. She has taught previous camps at the Smithsonian such as Soldiers and Dioramas: Trojan War, and Dinosaurs and Dioramas: Mesozoic Park.
Samy el-Noury is a full-time actor, aerialist, pianist, puppeteer, and vocalist. In addition to performing, he also works as the General Manager at the Baltimore Annex Theater; as well as a teaching artist for the Smithsonian Discovery Theater. Samy lives in Baltimore, MD and works along the east coast.
Audrey Engdahl is a music teacher and award-winning songwriter and performer in the MD/DC area with original songs that encourage knowledge of science, language, and creativity.
Elaine Florimonte is a working artist and educator in the metropolitan DC area, bringing 20 years of teaching experience to the creative collaboration of the Smithsonian.
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.
Michael Gabel is a professional actor, director, producer, and talk show host. He is a co-founder and teacher at The Actors Institute.
Haley Garvis is an artist and educator based in Richmond, VA. She involves interactive sound art in her own sculpture practice and uses creative technology and physical computing devices to activate learning in the classroom. Haley has a BA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Sculpture and Art Education, with a minor in Art History.
Al Gaspar is a creative shop and science teacher in the Philadelphia area, and the creator of the Smithsonian's Soldiers and Dioramas summer camps.
Nick “tha 1 da” 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.
Meredith Hertel is an art educator for Richmond Public Schools. She has been an instructor at the Smithsonian Summer Camp for several years and has experience teaching at elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. She strives to develop curriculum that engages students in cross-disciplinary thinking, that encourages creative collaboration, and that develops comfort with ambiguity and exploring unfamiliar ideas.
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 doing the Smithsonian Summer Camps and can't wait to get started with this year's!
Sarah Huffman is a current student at the University of Virginia pursuing a degree in Environmental Science and 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.
Michelle Tang Jackson
Michelle Tang Jackson is a performer and teaching artist. Teaching credits include Capitol Hill Day School, Shakespeare Theater Company, Young Playwrights’ Theater, Faction of Fools, and Mondavi Center ArtsBridge.
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 HBO’s Veep, 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 The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts, the Rockville Jewish Community Center, and Bethesda’s Imagination Stage. John can also be seen from Richmond to Philly as the Detective in Murder Mystery USA's touring company.
Bob Keddell has been working with Smithsonian Summer Camp for nearly 12 years and works closely with different units of the Smithsonian. His accomplishments include two Presidential Teaching Awards and the OHAUS National Creative Teaching Award. Besides this summer job, Bob is the faculty advisor for Teacher Leadership Certificate Program at Johns Hopkins University.
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 has been involved with diorama camps for over 5 years, first as an YTA, then as a co-teacher. He also works as a volunteer guide for the Randolph College Science Day.
Drew Kopas is a professional actor originally from Cleveland who has performed throughout the District/Maryland/Virginia area. You may have seen him onstage at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Constellation Theatre, Faction of Fools, Olney Theater Center, Keegan Theatre, Everyman Theatre, Capital Fringe Festival, or Clown Cabaret. He holds an MFA in Acting from Western Illinois University.
Jessica Shearer Kopas
Jessica Shearer Kopas is a 1st grade teacher at DC Scholars Academy. She is also an actress in the DC area. Theatre credits include work with Washington Stage Guild, Adventure Theatre, Imagination Stage, 1st Stage, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, and Spooky Action.
Aurenna Komisar has a background in theatre and over 15 years of teaching experience. She uses storytelling in the classroom and believes arts integration is an essential tool for reaching students.
Carly Kriewald teaches art, a math elective, and study skills in her hometown middle school in Millersville, MD. Carly has a BS in Art Education from Towson University.
Michelle Land teaches elementary school art in Fairfax County. She received her BFA in Fine Arts and MA in Teaching from the Maryland Institute College of Art. A practicing artist, her favorite medium is printmaking and has exhibited in a variety of cities including Alexandria, NYC, and Baltimore.
Chris Lane is currently a project manager with the Smithsonian's Discovery Theater -- helping to run and manage performances, tours, and interactive storytelling for young audiences in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Beyond a project manager, Chris is a DCPS teaching artist with Tools of Discovery, an event technician for Smithsonian Associates, and simultaneously finding time to do freelance work in acting, graphic design, and music production. He looks forward to using his entire skillset to make an adventure-filled, one-of-a-kind summer camp experience!
Tara Stallworth Lee
Tara Stallworth Lee is a visual artist specializing in paper-making, book arts, and analog photography. Tara lives and works in Birmingham, Alabama where she is a resident artist at Ground Floor Contemporary and former Arts Education Coordinator for Space One Eleven, a visual arts non-profit. Tara 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.
Mary Jo McCoy
Mary Jo McCoy is from Richmond, VA and has been a camp instructor since 2012. She has degrees in Communication Arts and Art Education with a minor in Art History from Virginia Commonwealth University. If she's not teaching students how to make video games, paint, draw, or sculpt, she's probably preparing for a marathon or playing with her cat.
Luke Meeken has been teaching new media art classes at the Smithsonian and in the Richmond, VA area since 2012. He completed his Master's in Art Education degree at VCU in 2014, and has a Bachelor's in Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He teaches digital art to high schoolers in Ashland, VA during the school year, has helped develop the Game Design as Art curriculum for VCU's CurrentLab, and has presented on teaching game design and digital art at national and state Art Education conferences.
Matthew McGee is a professional performing artist, freelance props and puppet designer, and all around craftsman who loves sharing his artistic skills with others. He has taught numerous workshops on puppet-making for both children and adults, is a faculty member of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Georgetown, and has taught classes through Roundhouse, The Shakespeare Theatre, and several other schools and museums in his previous home of Fresno, California.
Erika Ogier is a second-year graduate student at the Virginia Commonwealth University, who currently also teaches an undergraduate technology course. She is also teaching an after-school video game class with Haley Garvis at VCU.
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.
Paul Reisman is Associate Artistic Director of Faction of Fools Theatre Company was well as a professional actor and educator in the DC area. Recently, he directed The Duchess of Malfi for We Happy Few at the Capitol Fringe Festival and performed in Our Town with Faction of Fools.
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.
Paul Schmidt is an architectural designer and project manager in Phoenix, Arizona. As a child Paul helped build his family home and has continued on in architecture to create dozens of large-scale projects, including the new renovation to Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium. Outside of the office Paul is still a maker, and can be found building custom bicycles, designing furniture, and restoring a vintage VW Squareback.
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 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.
Sarah Sindler is a metalsmith and wearables artist, who under her business name KING RELD, creates bespoke pieces for her clients. Her love of making goes hand-in-hand with her love of teaching students of all ages and abilities to become more familiar with art and their ability to create.
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 stories and storytelling. She works as a maker and teacher in the US and UK.
Jack Smith has been a freelance writer and computer game designer.
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.
Angela White is a veteran Fairfax County Public Schools teacher who teaches Math & Science in the Advanced Academics Program. She received a Bachelors in English from James Madison University and a Masters in Education from Marymount University. In addition to teaching, she loves reading, writing, singing, gaming, knitting, and day-tripping with her husband in the DMV area.