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Instructors

Interested in becoming an instructor on the Smithsonian Virtual Adventures team?
Send your resume and cover letter to TSAcamp@si.edu.

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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. When not teaching art, Jessica can be found knitting, hiking, or swing dancing around the DMV.

Zachary Arlt

Zach Arlt graduates from George Mason University in May with a BA in History. Last summer was the first in seven years that Zach did not work at a summer camp, because he was here in DC interning with Discovery Theater learning all about museum theater. He hails from the great state of New Jersey, and while he misses the bagels dearly, he is excited to be back in the summer camp world and for his first year as a Camp Instructor at the Smithsonian!

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Shannon Conley

Shannon has been working at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center as a toddler teacher since the Fall of 2018. She cares deeply about the importance of cultivating empathy in young children and holds a B.A. in Anthropology from George Mason University. Shannon is passionate about creating a safe environment for toddlers to develop their autonomy, curiosity, and compassion for others.

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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 www.lfdstudios.com.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

Originally from Cleveland, Drew Kopas is a professional actor who has performed throughout the District/Maryland/Virginia area. You may have seen onstage at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Theatre J, Constellation Theatre, Mosaic Theater, 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 empathy & physical exam maneuvers to medical students at George Washington University.

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Brittany Leavitt

Brittany Leavitt has been at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center as a "two's" teacher since the Fall of 2015. Brittany loves teaching and fostering joy through objects and nature. She also guides her classroom through the lens of ABAR education and understanding. Besides exploring the great outdoors with friends, Brittany also teaches others who want to explore the outdoors with the organization 'Outdoor Afro and Brown Girls Climb' in the Baltimore/DC area.

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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.

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Elizabeth Owens

Elizabeth Owens is an experimental musician & multimedia arts instructor with a panache for lighting (safe) creative fires in kids and teens. An artist of many hats, Owens teaches General Music to grades PK–8 at a small private school, piano lessons in the evening, runs a nonprofit record label for LGBTQPOC artists, produces and manages their own music project, and works on audio & video post-production on the side.

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Julia Plant

Julia holds a B.A. in French and an M.A.T. in Elementary and Early Childhood Education, both from St. Mary's College of Maryland. She has worked with children from infancy through elementary school in a variety of settings including schools and summer camp. Since joining the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center in the Fall of 2017, Julia has furthered her passion for creating a safe environment for young children to thrive and learn, using both the school and wider community as resources.

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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.

Chris Conroy Smith

Chris was born and raised in Philadelphia. She graduated from Drexel University with an MS in Education/Reading. Chris taught children with special needs for many years in Philadelphia. After that she spent 10 years overseas – Nepal and Jamaica, where she volunteered in many programs and then Tunisia, where she taught Kindergarten at the International School for 2 years. Chris came to the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center in 2014 as a support educator and has loved working with these fabulous children.

Julia Smith

Julia began teaching with the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center in 2016. She started working with all ages infants through kindergarten before transitioning to a classroom teaching role with the toddlers. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Amherst College. Her passion for education has led her to teach children as old as middle schoolers. Julia is inspired everyday by the capabilities of even the youngest children to be engaged and empathetic learners.

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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.