Faculty & Staff

ChiArts Administrative Staff

Head of School and Principal
Teresa Milsap

Teresa (Terri) Milsap returned to ChiArts as Principal in 2019 and now serves as ChiArts’ Head of School & Principal. Ms. Milsap served as the founding principal and chief academic officer of ChiArts for five years prior to relocating to the East Coast, where she gained state, nonprofit, and regional educational leadership experience as a principal, turnaround coach, executive director, regional superintendent and independent consultant. She has a sincere passion for arts education and has dedicated her career to ensuring that schools are rooted in a diverse and equitable environment where students and teachers are valued and respected, and strive to be lifelong learners.

Ms. Milsap has a B.A. in Speech Communication from Illinois State University, a B.A. in English Education from Governors State University, and a M.A. in School Leadership from Concordia University. She has also completed coursework in the Urban School Leadership doctoral program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is also a member of the National Council of Teachers of English, Arts Schools Network, and Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Ms Milsap is the mother of Jasmine, Tyler, and Cierra. In her free time, she enjoys attending musical performances, creating handcrafted body care products, dancing, and kickboxing.

Artistic Director
Tina Boyer Brown

Tina Boyer Brown, Artistic Director and Creative Writing Department Head was also a founding English teacher at The Chicago High School for the Arts. She is a lead teacher at the Summer Poetry Teachers’ Institute sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. Her work has appeared in RHINO, POETRY Magazine, The Journal of Education, and Jet Fuel Review. Working on behalf of ChiArts scholar-artists brings her great joy.

Assistant Principal
Abbey Cullen

Abbey Cullen came to ChiArts in 2012 in the schools’ fourth year. As the World History teacher, she fell in love with the mission and vision of the school; diversifying the arts in Chicago while broadening the horizons of students. In 2016, Abbey shifted her focus and joined the administration team as the Dean of Operations. There she played an active role in ensuring the day-to-day needs to the school and the ChiArts family were met.

Abbey has developed a creative and flexible approach to finding solutions given ChiArts’ unique focus on educating the scholar-artist while also operating as a successful non-profit. Now as the Assistant Principal, Abbey has expanded her work at ChiArts into curriculum development and working to advance the school’s mission and vision.

Ms. Cullen is a proud stepmom to Harrison and lives with her husband Brett in the Horner Park neighborhood.

Dean of Students
Eric Morris
Human Resources Manager
Dwayne Jervier

Mr. Jervier leads and oversees the formal human resource functions, and assists with all employee relations to support a safe and effective workplace. He brings over 20 years of Human Resources experience, with direct experience working within non-profit organizations.

As a life-long Chicagoan, Mr. Jervier holds a degree in Human Resources Management from DePaul University, and brings work experiences from Maryville AcademyCarole Robertson Center for Learning and more recently, at Heartland Alliance.

As Mr. Jervier joined our support staff in July of 2018, he looks forward to his first academic year and being a part of the ChiArts community.

ChiArts Department Heads

Creative Writing
Tina Boyer Brown

Tina Boyer Brown, Managing Director of the Arts Conservatories and Creative Writing Department Head was also a founding English teacher at The Chicago High School for the Arts. She is a lead teacher at the Summer Poetry Teachers’ Institute sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. Her work has appeared in RHINO, POETRY Magazine, The Journal of Education, and Jet Fuel Review. Working on behalf of ChiArts scholar-artists brings her great joy.

Dance
Greer A. Reed

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Greer Reed successfully completed the Certificate and Merit scholarship programs at The Ailey School and shortly after became a member of the outstanding Ailey II. The bulk of Ms. Reed’s professional career took place with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, retiring after 10 years in 2002 with the “Josie” Award for Outstanding Female Artist. Her dedication to young people is a driving force to enrich, empower and inspire. In the classroom, Ms. Reed focuses on dance curricula on academic quality, technique, and cultural experiences that reveal the transparency of thoughtfulness, refinement, and holistic teaching. As the 2018-2019 academic year began, The Chicago High School for the Arts welcomed Ms. Reed’s transformational teaching into their dance studios and classrooms as Chair of the Dance Department taking the Dance Conservatory scholar-artists to new heights. She is excited and committed to developing the next generation of incredible dancers who will redefine movement and honor past traditions while creating a heritage that reflects their voice. Along with her busy schedule, Greer recently received her B.A. from LaRoche University in Pittsburgh, PA with a 4.0 grade point average and the President’s Leadership and Scholarship Award, the highest honor La Roche University can bestow on a graduate for exemplary academic and leadership skills who best exemplify the values and characteristics of the college’s mission. She is currently a Master’s candidate at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT.

Music
Anthony Bruno

Anthony Bruno has dedicated his life to music as a performer, educator, and creator. Born into a musical family, playing music has been a hallmark of his existence. He believes creativity and connection is the essence of music performance.

An in-demand saxophonist in Chicago, he has performed with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Larry Carlton (Steely Dan), Bobby Watson, Jeff Hamilton, Gerald Clayton, Bobby Broom, and Mary Wilson of The Supremes to name a few. Bruno has also performed at various music festivals such as the New York City Winter Jazz Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Chicago Blues Festival. He has released numerous recordings that can be found on all streaming platforms including multiple releases chosen for Spotify Editorial Playlists. Anthony is also an endorsing artist for Selmer Paris Saxophones and D’Addario Woodwind Products. Bruno’s main musical influences are Jazz, Afro-Cuban, and R&B and considers them the foundational language to his approach to music performance.

As an educator, Bruno has taught at ChiArts since 2010 and has served as the Jazz Coordinator since 2013. In this position, he has taken the Jazz Combo to perform at four Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conferences in Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego, and New Orleans. They have performed with numerous guest artists such as Antonio Hart, Bobby Watson, and Sean Jones. Additionally, he brought the Jazz Combo on a Peer to Peer tour with the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz to San Antonio and Austin, Texas with guest artists Bobby Watson and Lisa Henry. Bruno also organized a tour for the Jazz Combo throughout Los Angeles in 2019 which included performances and clinics at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and the Thelonious Monk Institute at UCLA.

In addition to his teaching at ChiArts, he has served as adjunct faculty at DePaul University teaching the Saxophone Technique course from 2010 to 2015. An experienced guest artist, clinician and arranger, he has worked with such schools and organizations as Dartmouth College, Youth Jazz Ensemble of DuPage, and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. Bruno also served as a guest director for the ILMEA District 1 Jazz Ensemble in 2018.

Anthony Bruno graduated Magna Cum Laude from DePaul University earning a BM in Music Education in 2007. He is a licensed Music Educator in the state of Illinois.

Theatre
Annie Calhoun

Annie Calhoun believes in the power of equity in arts education. The passion behind this belief led her to become a founding ChiArts teacher in 2009 and then took her all the way to South Los Angeles where she co-founded Kipp Scholar Academy and created their theatre program. She holds a teaching degree from Taylor University in Theatre and English and is IL certified for grades 6-12. Ms. Calhoun also received her MFA in Acting from DePaul’s Theatre School. She returned to Chicago two years ago after five years of teaching, directing and performing in Los Angeles. In LA, Ms. Calhoun taught and directed at the Professional (Adlerimprov), Collegiate (USC), and High School (LA County HS for the Arts) levels; she also founded an inner city theatre program in South LA (Kipp Scholar). She is a novelist and playwright whose pieces have been performed on stages all over Los Angeles and an actor whose work ranges from theater and film, to improv and stand up comedy.

A Chicago native, she is rooted in the values of play, ensemble, rigor and creative new work. While in Chicago she completed iO’s training and then performed there regularly, as well as The Annoyance. One of her favorite experiences was being included as the first improvised play Steppenwolf allowed in their Garage space with a group she founded called ALMOST ATLANTA. The breadth and depth of her expertise in education and theatre offer a vast array of skills from classroom management and facilitating diversity, equity & inclusion to building ensemble among students and staff, and measuring student growth outcomes.

Visual Arts
Whitney Bradshaw

Whitney Bradshaw is an artist, activist, educator, curator, and former social worker. Bradshaw has been the head of the visual art conservatory at ChiArts since the fall of 2012. Bradshaw’s work has been exhibited widely including solo shows at the DePaul Art Museum (Chicago), The Lubeznik Center for the Arts (Michigan City, Indiana), The Tarble Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University, the Wave Pool Contemporary Art Fulfillment Center (Cincinnati), The Show Gallery (St Paul) and the Museum of Surgical Science (Chicago). Additionally, her work was curated into the Dock6 Design + Art 13, 2020 (Chicago), Female in Focus 2020 at the Center for Fine Art Photography (Fort Collins, Colorado), and the Terrain Biennial 2020 (Chicago). She has also shown work at Box 13 Artspace (Houston), James Kearney Campus Gallery at New Jersey State (Trenton), Iceberg Projects (Chicago), Brooks Stevens Gallery at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (Milwaukee), Gallery 400 at University of Illinois Chicago and the Midway Art Fair (Chicago). Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the DePaul Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago, Northwestern School of Law, the Sara M. and Michelle Vance Waddell Collection (Cincinnati), and numerous other private collections. Additionally, her work has been published and/or reviewed in the New York Times, Columbia College’s 6×6 series, Time Out New York, New City, the MCA Chicago catalog for The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music 1965-Now, Esthetic Lens Magazine, the LA Times, The Calodian Record (Vermont), the Chicago Tribune, and WTTW’s Chicago Tonight did a segment on Bradshaw’s work in 2018.

Bradshaw was formerly the assistant curator of the renowned LaSalle Bank Photography Collection and the curator of photography for the Bank of America Collection. While curating for 13 years, Bradshaw was an adjunct professor in the photography department at Columbia College Chicago where she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in theory and practice. In 1991 Bradshaw attained a BA in Sociology with a minor in Women’s Studies from Eastern Illinois University, a program she spearheaded and was the first to graduate with a degree in. From 1991-1997 Bradshaw worked in Chicago as a social worker. In 2001 she was named one of the top 10 MFA candidates and awarded the College Art Association Regional MFA Exhibition at UIC’s Gallery 400. She graduated with her MFA from Columbia College Chicago in 2001. You can learn more about Bradshaw’s work on her website, whitneybradshaw.com.

ChiArts Support Staff

Office Manager
Drew Baxter
Originally from Sandwich, Illinois, Drew Baxter holds a Bachelor of Music from Lawrence University. It is during his studies at LU that Drew first learned of gamelan, and was later afforded the opportunity to study the music in Bali. When not performing with the Chicago Balinese Gamelan, he may be seen playing with local ensembles on the bass trombone.
Director of Production
Mark J Bracken Jr.
Administrative Assistant
Megan Burback

Megan Burback is from Manitowoc, Wisconsin. She moved to Chicago five years ago to attend Columbia College Chicago where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in music with a concentration in vocal performance and a minor in music business. Before working at ChiArts, Megan worked at Sherwood Community Music School and is currently pursuing her ‘Music Together’ certificate. Outside of ChiArts, Megan is a member of multiple bands and performs around Chicago as a solo vocalist. Dance, music, and art have been a huge part of her life.

Case Manager
Carolyn Burnes
Recruitment Coordinator
Bianca Corral

Bianca is a Chicago native stemming from the Humboldt Park neighborhood. She is proud to be a part of the ChiArts family in the many capacities the institution has given her the privilege to be. She believes in the power that these students develop within the walls of the school and take out into the world. Bianca graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a theater degree and is amazed that she gets to use it to share the gift of ChiArts with students around the city.

Staff Accountant
Kim Flowers
Admissions Manager
Laura Marsh

Laura has been with ChiArts since May 2012. She is a performer, choreographer, improviser, comedy writer, and playwright. A Tennessee native, Laura is a graduate of Cumberland University with a BFA in English and Theatre. She has also studied improv and comedy at Second City and ComedySportz while in Chicago. Laura is proud to be a part of ChiArts, helping to recruit a new batch of young artists each year.

Administrative Assistant to the Artistic Director
David Matthews
Executive Assistant to the Head of School and Principal
Ursula McGregory
Clinical Counselor
Bryn Poulton
Associate Production Manager
Mike Pryzgoda
Academic Counselor
Kaitlyn Tobin

Kaitlyn Tobin, LPC, NCC, is excited to begin her 5th year as the Academic Counselor at ChiArts. She works with scholar-artists, parents, and teachers to help support student academic growth, including the development of executive functioning and self-advocacy skills. Committed to the school mission, she’s also proud to be a part of the Climate/SEL Team and Anti-Racism Working Group. Kaitlyn has 10 years of counseling experience working in high schools in rural, urban, and suburban settings, and has previously written school grants relating to college and career readiness. She received her B.A. in Elementary Education (English) from Bradley University and M.A. in School Counseling from Saint Xavier University. Outside of school, Kaitlyn likes to stay active, travel, and as of May, hang out with her baby son, Luke!

ChiArts Academic Faculty

Integrated Arts

Kris Cain
Integrated Arts

Kris Cain is an artist and arts educator. She is a Central Illinois native who moved to Chicago in 2017 and began teaching visual arts at the Gary Comer Youth Center and the After School Matters Art Apprenticeship in the Greater Grand-Crossing neighborhood. Her art teaching focuses on critically examining the function and role of contemporary art and artists in strengthening communities and society. She enjoys working with a range of media including both conventional and nonconventional art materials, which naturally carries over into her curriculum. She holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MAT from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. You can view some of her work at www.kriscainart.com.

English

Meg Arbeiter
Honors English IV

Meg Arbeiter is a National Board Certified English teacher and founding faculty member at The Chicago High School for the Arts. In 2007 she received Facing History and Ourselves’ Margot Stern Strom Award to travel to South Africa and again in 2012 to publish a book of essays written by ChiArts Scholar-Artists in her English I class. As an adjunct facilitator for Facing History and Ourselves and long-time member of their Chicago Teacher Leadership Team, she facilitates sessions at DePaul University and recently this past summer with Golden Apple Scholars. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Master of Education from DePaul University, and a Master of Industrial Relations from Loyola University Chicago.

Andrew Holt Van Herik
English I College Prep

Mr. Van Herik is here because being part of a school trying to bring equity to the arts and streets of Chicago matters to him. He was raised by teachers and environmentalists who taught him to care about changing broken systems so every person can thrive. He believes skillful writing, reading, and speaking gives people the power to change their worlds for the better. He wants every freshman leaving his class to have the tools to care for themselves and their worlds. Also, he enjoys reading young adult literature and fantasy/sci-fi, watching comedy and drama on the TV, playing board games with friends, dismantling the patriarchy and racism, listening to rap, writing poetry, rooting out injustice in labor, and playing lots of video games.

Filip Lewandowski
English I College Prep + English I Honors + AP Language and Composition

Filip Lewandowski was born in Krakow, Poland and immigrated to the U.S. to join his family when he was eight years old. He fell in love with martial arts after watching Bloodsport, starring Jean Claude Van Damme, and quickly took up Tae Kwon Do, then Kyokushin Karate. He also became an avid Legomaniac and Ninja Turtles enthusiast. After graduating from Whitney Young High School, Filip double majored in English Literature and Communication at DePauw University. His previous teaching experience includes serving as an ESL instructor at a nonprofit (Polish American Association), as well as, teaching English abroad in South Korea. He completed his M.Ed. in Secondary Education at Loyola Chicago in 2014 and student taught at ChiArts, where has been a full-time English teacher for 5 years. When he is not at school, Filip enjoys watching movies (occasionally really bad ones), watching Forensic Files with Jennifer (his partner and better half), walking around with his dog, experiencing other cultures, and cooking. Some of his goals include going back to school to get a PhD (…maybe), backpacking around South America, and moving somewhere on/near a beach. Filip is super excited to teach the stellar tiny humans in his English I College Prep, English I Honors, and AP Language and Composition classes.

Dara Miller
English II + English II Honors

A native of Western Kentucky, Dara Miller earned her B.A. in English Education at Murray State University. After completing a teaching internship in Corozal, Belize, she taught for two years in her home state, where she also worked as a Writing Fellow and Instructional Technology Teacher Leader for the Kentucky Writing Project. In 2011, she relocated from Kentucky to Chicago, Illinois and joined the ChiArts faculty for the first time and earned her MA in English Literature at DePaul University. In her first four years at ChiArts, she served as a Grade Level Team Leader and English Department lead teacher and worked to develop and pilot a collaborative project between Facing History & Ourselves and Harvard University’s Project Zero. She has been a member of Facing History’s Chicago Teacher Leadership team for the past six years, and has also worked as an educational consultant. In her spare time, she loves reading, exploring Chicago’s beautiful park spaces, and helping her four-year-old daughter practice violin. She is ecstatic to return to ChiArts this year as a member of the English Department and the 10th Grade Level Team Leader!

Megan Pietz
English

Megan Pietz is originally from Skokie, Illinois where she learned to love music and writing, playing percussion from a young age and as copy editor of her high school yearbook. She graduated from DePaul University as a part of the Golden Apple Scholars program with a B.A. in Secondary Education and English and worked as both a writing tutor and in various editorial roles for the campus literary magazine. She loves to read and has previously written book reviews for the Los Angeles Review of Books and Chicago Review of Books online. In her spare time, Megan also loves to bake and won third place in the 2020 Chicago Tribune Holiday Cookie Contest. She has previously taught 7th grade English and is excited to now be teaching 10th grade.

Dr. Omar Tabbara
AP English Language + Composition English IV

Dr. Tabbara has been teaching English at ChiArts since 2014, and this is his 13th year as a high school English teacher. A life-long Chicagoan, Dr. Tabbara is a Lane Tech grad (where he coaches wrestling), has a BA from UIC, and an MA and PhD from Concordia, Chicago. He lives in Logan Square with his wife and son, and in his spare time enjoys sports, travel, movies, music, and good food.

Math

Shifra Adler
AP Calculus & Honors Pre-Calculus

This is Shifra Adler’s 8th year teaching mathematics at ChiArts. She earned her BA in Philosophy at Cambridge University with a focus on Classical Greek thought. After a few years away from school to play Klezmer music and sell advertising space, she returned for a MS in Math Education at Northwestern University and did research into the use of primary sources the math classroom. As a teacher, she works to bring an analytic and historical flavor to her students’ math experience. She is currently enrolled in a PBL certification program through the University of Pennsylvania.

Allison Filbin
Integrated Math 3 Honors + College Prep

Allison is originally from Elmwood Park, Illinois and graduated with a mathematics degree from the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign. After Allison received a teaching certificate from Northeastern Illinois University, she headed west to Bakersfield, California where Allison taught math and coached basketball for the last four years. Allison is excited to be back in Chicago and honored to be a part of ChiArts.

Seamus Foley

Born in Chicago but raised in the northwest suburbs, Mr. Foley attended the University of Illinois where he completed his Bachelor of Arts in Economics. He held a few different sales jobs and finance operations roles before deciding that corporate for-profit industry was not for him. Upon realization that his true passion was working with kids and sharing knowledge, he went back to school to become a certified high school math teacher. In just his second year teaching, Mr. Foley is happy to have found a life-long career path, and in ChiArts, a school that so closely aligns with his values and passions. In addition to teaching, Mr. Foley is also an avid Chicago Bulls fan (and season ticket holder) and enjoys discovering and listening to many genres of music.

Karoly Keefe
Integrated Math II Honors + Integrated Math III College Prep

Karoly Keefe is a passionate math teacher who strives to eliminate mathematics education as a barrier for any student they comes across. Karoly studied at DePaul University with a Secondary Education Mathematics degree. During that time, Karoly discovered a love for finding the mystical and intriguing qualities of mathematics and hopes to influence students to do the same! If you get the time, ask about their tattoos…as they can be a lesson in and of themselves! Karoly feels honored to be at ChiArts and is excited to engage with such a beautiful and authentic community–students and staff!

Andrew Paluck
Math II

Andrew holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Marquette University. After spending several years working in logistics, Andrew decided to go back to school to pursue a degree in education. In 2018, he graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and Mathematics. In his free time, Andrew enjoys playing video games, and training for triathlons.

Science

Jennifer Archis
Chemistry + Biology

Jennifer Archis graduated from Elon University with a BS, double-majoring in Biology alongside Environmental & Ecological Science. She is originally from the rural mountains of North Carolina and moved to Chicago in 2018. Her love of science and learning led her to become a teacher; now, she is in her fourth year teaching, and first year at ChiArts. In her free time, she can be found reading, cooking, sleeping, and exploring. She is ecstatic to be at ChiArts and to be a part of such a beautiful community!

Paul Dorney
Chemistry

Mr. Paul Dorney graduated from Indiana University in 1992 with a BS in Science Education and a minor in Meteorology. He received his first masters degree from Nova Southeastern in 2005, and a second masters degree in Astronomy from Ball State University. Mr. Dorney currently works with NASA in its Astrobiology program and has been taking courses both in Hawaii and at Penn State. He is an avid soccer player since a young age when he played for FC Stuttgart and currently plays in CLASA. He also enjoys playing the piano and doing anything creative! This is Mr. Dorney’s 23rd year teaching, and his fourth year at ChiArts.

John Jarosz

Mr. John Jarosz graduated from Creighton University with a double major in Biology and Environmental Science as well as a co-major in secondary education. After graduating, he taught Biology and Earth and Space Science in Omaha, Nebraska. During his two years at Omaha Bryan, he was involved in coaching, sponsoring clubs, and receiving the Outstanding Educator Award. He enjoys biking, playing lacrosse and going on adventures throughout the city.

Joy Layton
Biology

Joy Layton is the new Biology teacher at ChiArts! Joy is a first year teacher, and graduated from Carthage College in Kenosha, WI with a bachelors in Biology and a minor in Secondary Education. During college, Joy did bioacoustics research on White-handed Gibbons and wrote a senior thesis on “The Importance and Applications of Multicultural Education in High School Biology”. While science has been Joy’s area of focus, Joy loves to learn new things and practice creative outlets like dancing, drawing, and painting. Joy is so excited to work with the amazing students and community at ChiArts and find new ways to creatively approach science with ChiArts students.

Social Studies

Zainub Fiaz
AP World History
Joseph Wagner
Human Geography

Since he was a kid, Mr. Wagner knew he wanted to be a teacher. As a member of the ChiArts staff since 2013, he has gotten to live that dream. He takes great joy in watching his students learn and become empowered to use their knowledge to benefit themselves and society. When not at school, Mr. Wagner enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter. He earned both a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Arts in Education from Maryville University.

Bethany Wassink
World History

Bethany is from southern Illinois but has been living in Chicago on and off for the past 5 years. She has bachelors degrees in both Business Administration and History from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She loves to travel with her husband, read, eat yummy food, play volleyball, meet new people and she’s pretty sure that her dog is the best. She also has a firm belief that an education in the social sciences helps individuals reflect on their own identity and have a greater understanding of the shared human experience, especially those identities and experiences that many history courses overlook. Most students describe her as “so nice” and this description really makes her happy.

World Languages

Guadalupe Leon
Spanish
Chris Cashman
Spanish + Spanish for Native Speakers + Choral Experience

This is Chris Cashman’s fifth year at ChiArts. He received his B.A. in TESOL at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and spent a summer teaching English in Mexico while living with a pastoral family there. After teaching ESL at Harold Washington College for a year and a half, he decided to pursue a long-time goal of being a Spanish teacher and studied Spanish Linguistics at UIC (M.A. degree) and taught Spanish there. He completed education coursework at Northeastern and taught for two years at Oak Park & River Forest High School.

Mr.Cashman has been immersed in the Hispanic community in Chicago by being involved in a Spanish-speaking church. He serves as a youth ministry leader and a few years ago started a band in the church which he directs. He has served as the accompanist for Senior Chorale, and this year will be teaching Chorale Experience. Mr.Cashman has a wife and two children and lives in Humboldt Park.

Kevin Ramirez
Spanish I

Kevin Ramirez graduated with his B.A. in K-12 World Language Education from DePaul University. Ever since his youth, he has loved the world, its people, its cultures, and the ability to tear down the walls of language barriers and ignorance towards other people and their respective cultures. During the summers of his university education, he taught English and Spanish primarily in Mexico in impoverished areas at local recreation centers or schoolhouses. In his final two years as a university student, Kevin taught French at the Lycée Français de Chicago in a complete immersion program that focused on bridging the youth together through language and cultures of the Francophone world. Since then he regularly travels and stays on a path for knowledge of the world — he has just returned from a tour of Europe spanning across 18 different cities. Outside the classroom he enjoys creating music on his guitar, being involved with fitness at the local gyms, playing sports, and reading about anything from language-related items to topics in the scientific community. He will be entering his fifth year of teaching and is looking forward to his second year at ChiArts!

Elisa Tavares Bell
Spanish

Elisa Tavares Bell is a proud Chicana and daughter of Mexican immigrants. Elisa studied Spanish at the University of Illinois at Chicago with the encouragement from her parents to preserve her Mexican roots. Elisa is passionate about cultivating biliteracy & biculturalism in her Spanish classroom and enjoys sharing her love for Latin music and dance. Elisa is a former performer, choreographer, and instructor in Salsa, Mambo, Bachata and Cumbia. She recently had the rare opportunity to travel to Cuba to study Afro-Cuban dance. In Elisa’s free time, she enjoys gardening, reading memoirs, traveling with her husband and three children, and having impromptu dance parties with them. Elisa is beyond excited to join the talented ChiArts school community.

Kaitlin Walts
Spanish III and IV

Computer Science

Tsegaye Kleszczewski
Computer Science

Mrs. Kleszczewski (affectionately known as Ms. K throughout the building) is enjoying her 9th year with the ChiArts family and celebrating her sweet 16th year of teaching. She is originally from Jamaica where she completed her Bachelor of Education in Computer Science and also taught Information Technology for six years before migrating to Chicago in 2009. In her spare time, she likes to hang out with her husband, friends, family and her dogs.

Physical Education, Health & Driver's Ed

Oscar Muñoz
Physical Education I + II

Mr. Muñoz is a 9th year teacher who earned his BSEd in Physical Education from Northern Illinois University. He is certified in grades K-12. He recently earned his Masters degree in learning and technology from Wester Governors University. Staying very active in his free time doing anything that is challenging. He has completed two ironman triathlons and has competed in over 120 different races. He prioritizes health and fitness and tries to lead his students by example. He founded the fitness club at ChiArts and is always aiming to provide many opportunities for students to be fit. Mr. Muñoz also has a Spanish bilingual endorsement and is an ACE certified personal trainer.

James Salazar
Health + Physical Education I

James Salazar is a 10th year teacher out of Villa Park, IL. He graduated in December 2009 from Northern Illinois University with a BSEd in Physical Education, certified grades K-12, with a minor in secondary Health Education. He will be teaching 4 sections of Health Education and 1 section of Physical Education this year, as well as supporting his sophomore advisees. Mr. Salazar enjoys staying active and working on his two hobbies: cars and sneakers.

Drew Steger
Physical Education II + Driver's Education

Mr. Steger graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Physical Education. He received his Driver Education and Safety endorsement from Northern Illinois University. This will be his fifth year of teaching. Mr. Steger previously taught two years at Downers Grove South High School and one year at York High School.

Specialized Services

Dr. Sunni Ali
Senior DL: "Thriving and Striving"

Dr. Ali is entering his 22nd year as a high school teacher (12 years as a Social Science Instructor and 10 years as a Diverse Learner Instructor). Ali has taught a variety of college prep, honors, and AP History classes. Ali earned his Doctorate in Educational Administration from Roosevelt University, holds a type 75 Principal’s Certificate, Type 9 Social Science Certificate, and LBS1 Special Education Certificate Endorsement. He also is an Associate Professor at Northeastern Illinois University within the Education Inquiry and Curriculum Studies Department (EICS).

Carolyn Burnes
Case Manager
Cheryl Graff
Diverse Learning

Ms. Graff is in her third year of teaching. She was born and raised in Highland Park, Illinois. She earned her Bachelors in Special Education and her Masters degree in Special Education and educational technology from Michigan State University (Go Green!). Ms. Graff is recognized throughout Chicago as a professional and respected Mezzo Soprano opera singer. Last year, she had the opportunity to perform behind broadway stars in a 250+ chorus at the Lincoln Center in New York City. Ms. Graff is excited to join the ChiArts family this school year!

Joslyn Holman
Diverse Learners
Jennifer B. Larson
Diverse Learners

Jennifer B. Larson has been teaching diverse learners for seven years. She grew up in Michigan but has been in Chicago permanently since 2007, when she graduated from Loyola University of Chicago. Outside of teaching, she is a musician as well as a writer of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Katie Pollastrini
Diverse Learners

Katie has taught at ChiArts for three years and is proud to be a member of ChiArts’ creative, unique, and determined community. Katie started her journey as an educator at Monmouth College receiving a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and secondary education. After teaching for two years in a suburban school, Katie decided to purse my masters degree in Special Education to support students with a variety of learning styles. In the past few years at ChiArts, Katie has learned a lot from her students and colleagues. She is excited to continue to grow in order to best support each and every one of her students.

ChiArts Arts Faculty

Creative Writing

Tina Boyer Brown
Creative Writing Department Head

Tina Boyer Brown, Managing Director of the Arts Conservatories and Creative Writing Department Head was also a founding English teacher at The Chicago High School for the Arts. She is a lead teacher at the Summer Poetry Teachers’ Institute sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. Her work has appeared in RHINO, POETRY Magazine, The Journal of Education, and Jet Fuel Review. Working on behalf of ChiArts scholar-artists brings her great joy.

Bessana Kendig
Writer's Toolkit + Fiction II + Literary Magazine + Professional Development

Bessana Kendig graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in creative writing. Bessana writes non fiction, magical realism, and short stories. They’re originally from Denver, Colorado and also work at the non-profit, Care for Friends which provides meals and necessary supplies for individuals experiencing homelessness. In addition to teaching at ChiArts, Bessana is a teaching artist at Ravenswood Elementary, specializing in visual arts and creative writing. Bessana spends their free time frequenting bookshops and coffee shops, reading tarot cards, and binge drinking chai tea. Since they began interning at ChiArts in college, they connected with the diverse and embracing community. Bessana says ChiArts “feels like home and I find myself not wanting to leave.”

Chris Lin Dao-Heng
Intro to Visual Communications + Sequential Art for Writers

Chris Lin is an interdisciplinary artist based in Chicago, working in media including films, books, puppetry, music, and installation. Born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, he moved to British Columbia, Canada and received his BFA with honor from University of Victoria in 2005. After relocating to Chicago, Mr. Lin pursued an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and graduated in 2008. His exhibition history includes Contemporary Art Workshop, Eel Space, and OP Shop in Chicago, Verge Art Fair in New York, Deluge Contemporary Art and 50/50 Arts Collective in Victoria, BC, and Atlantic Centre for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL. His visual art and short stories has been published in Fiction At Work and Balliwik. Mr. Lin is the co-founder and collaborative director at Good Stuff House, a performance and publishing art collaborative, and the founding member and ukulele player of the folk-thrash-hop duo Hannis Pannis.
abalonemoney.com

Sophie Lucido Goalson
Journalism + Writer's Studio IV

Sophie Goalson (a.k.a. Sophie Lucido Johnson) is a writer and illustrator whose work has been published in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, Bon Appetit, Jezebel, Guernica, The Believer, and many other places. Her first book, “Many Love,” came out with Simon & Schuster in 2018. She is also a lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her book has been nominated for and has won several awards, including a nomination for the nationally established Lambda Literary Award. Mrs. Goalson has over a decade of teaching experience, and she specializes in working with students with exceptional needs, trauma-informed practices, behavioral intervention, and intentional anti-racism. For a complete CV and samples of Mrs. Goalson’s work, please visit sophielucidojohnson.com.

David Matthews
Writer's Studio I + Poetry Workshop
Cecilia Pinto
Fiction Workshop + Writer's Studio III

Cecilia Pinto has been a teaching artist in the City of Chicago for over twenty years. She was an instructor as well as the former director of the Hands on Stanzas program for The Poetry Center of Chicago. She taught in Northwestern’s Center for Talent Development summer program for gifted students. She was also coordinator for the Chicago Humanities Festival’s Parks@Play program. She is adjunct faculty in the Writer’s Studio at the Graham School for General Studies at the University of Chicago. Her writing has appeared in various publications including Esquire, Fence, Diagram, TriQuarterly and elsewhere. She was voted ‘One of 25 Writers to Watch for 2015’ by the Guild Literary Complex. She received her undergraduate degree from Knox College and an M.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute.

Kenyatta Rogers
Creative Writing Chair + Elements of Poetry + Poetry II + Writer's Studio II

Kenyatta Rogers is a Cave Canem Fellow and has been awarded multiple scholarships from the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference. He has also been nominated multiple times for both Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. His work has been previously published in or is forthcoming from Jubilat, Vinyl, Bat City Review, The Volta, PANK, MAKE Magazine among others. He is as a co-host of the Sunday Reading Series with Simone Muench, an Associate Editor with RHINO Poetry and currently serves on the Creative Writing Faculty at the Chicago High School for the Arts.

Jeremy T. Wilson
Elements of Fiction + Responding to Art

Jeremy T. Wilson is the author of the short story collection Adult Teeth. He is a former winner of the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award for short fiction and was recently named one of “30 Writers to Watch” by Chicago’s Guild Literary Complex. His stories have appeared in literary magazines such as The Carolina Quarterly, The Florida Review, Hobart, The Masters Review, Sonora Review, Third Coast and other publications. He holds an MFA from Northwestern University.

Dance

Maan Almodovar
Ballet D + Conditioning/Pointe Prep II + Conditioning/Point Prep I

Maan Nabong received her dance training from Sherry Moray, Homer Bryant, Wes Chapman, and Roger Van Fleteran. In 2000 and 2001, Maan placed 1st in the Junior Classical division at Youth America Grand Prix. From 2002-2004, she danced with the Alabama Ballet where she performed Arabian in George Balanchine’s Nutcracker and various roles in Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, and Swan Lake. Maan was a scholarship student at Lou Conte Dance Studio in Chicago and at Alonzo Kings Ballet in San Francisco. In 2006-2007, Maan performed with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, working with choreographer, Daniel Pelzig in Die Fledermaus. Maan is a Stott-trained Pilates instructor and is also currently on faculty at the Joffrey Academy of Dance.

Tosha Alston
African Dance + Movement I for Actors
Barry Bennett
Dance Accompanist

Barry is a Jeff nominated maker of theatrical music and sound with over 40 world premieres, a multitude of albums under his own name and as a band leader — with the seminal trance outfit, MiLkBabY and the art rock group he currently leads, GRAPE JUICE PLUS. Other companies he has worked with since coming to Chicagoland in 1993 would include: The Goodman, Victory Gardens, Lifeline, Chicago Dramatists (former associate artist), Mordine and Company, Something Marvelous, Writers’ Theatre, The Aardvark, Steppenwolf, The Art Institute, Emerald City, National Pastime, Cindy Brandle Dance Company, PROP THTR, Chicago Moving Company (former composer in residence), Estrogen Fest, Asimina Chremos, Breakbone Dance, and others. He is an artistic associate and resident composer for 16th Street Theater, Winifred Haun & Dancers, and the director of Impending Behavior Orchestra. By day, Barry is a modern dance accompanist and plays percussion with a wide variety of groups across stages in the region which includes being the regular drummer for The Przmatics. http://barrybennettsounds.com

Levizadik Buckins
Contemporary Jazz + Senior Repertoire + Dance II for Theatre

Levizadik Buckins began his dance education at the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, Connecticut. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, under the direction of Ethan Stiefel. During his time at UNCSA, he worked with choreographers such as Brenda Daniels, Trish Casey, and Diego Schoch. He has also had the chance to work with well-known choreographers Maurya Kerr, Larry Keigwin, Scott Rink, and Trish Lent. He has performed professionally with the Winston-Salem Festival of Ballet under the direction of Gary Taylor in North Carolina, and River North Dance Chicago under the direction of Frank Chaves. While at River North Dance Chicago he worked with Adam Barruch, Kevin Iega Jeff, Ashley Roland, and Ivan Perez. Levizadik is currently in his second year as a dance instructor at the Chicago High School of the Arts.

Zineb Chraibi
Graham Technique

A former dancer, Zineb Chraibi has performed with the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre, Deeply Rooted Productions, Winifred Haun and Dancers as well as with various independent choreographers. She holds a BA in Dance from Point Park College in Pittsburgh, Pa. Ms. Chraibi grew up in Casablanca, Morocco where she first started training. She later returned to her native city of Paris to study ballet, modern, and jazz. She has also trained at Les ballets Jazz De Montreal, Ruth Page Dance Center and Lou Conte Dance Studios. She is currently on the faculty at the Dance Center of Columbia College, the Joffrey Ballet and guest teaches in the U.S. and abroad. She has also served on the faculty of the Conservatory of Dance at Barat College, The Chicago Academy for The Arts, The Joel Hall Dance Center, and taught at the Lou Conte dance Studio. In addition to teaching dance, Zineb is a certified Yoga and Pilates instructor who teaches in the U.S and abroad.

Tracey Franklin
Department Assistant
Robert Garrett
Dance Accompanist
Robin Gayle
Novice Ballet

Robin Gayle is a professional dancer, an established ballet teacher, and a certified Pilates instructor. She performed for nine seasons as a Soloist with the Columbia City Ballet, apprenticed with the Colorado Ballet, and is a frequent guest artist around the country. Robin trained privately under Sherry Moray and Alla Osipenko and attended the Académie de Danse Classique Princesse Grace in Monte Carlo, the Ruth Page School of Dance, and the Chicago Academy for the Arts. Her summer intensives include the schools of American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet. Robin was a top finalist at the Youth America Grand Prix competition and chosen to perform at YAGP Galas in 2000 and 2001. Robin’s reviews include Dance Magazine’s late Ann Barzel, who praised Robin as a “uniquely talented dancer,” and the Chicago Sun-Times’ Hedy Weiss, who characterized Robin’s dancing as “brilliant.” Additional credits include appearing in the movie “Save the Last Dance,” the TV show “Sabado Gigante,” and modeling for Capezio and Leo’s Dancewear. Robin has had the pleasure of working with the dancers at ChiArts since 2017.

Mike Przygoda
Music for Dancers + Dance Accompanist
Mike Przygoda has been at ChiArts since the beginning, playing for dance classes, teaching Music For Dancers, composing pieces, and running sound. Outside of ChiArts he works as a composer, arranger, producer, music director, sound designer, and a multi-instrumentalist around Chicago at such places as The Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Goodman Theatre, Second City, Ailey Camp, Lou Conte Dance Studio, and others. He won a Jeff Award for artistic specialization in percussion, and his band has released several critically acclaimed albums.
Greer A. Reed
Dance Department Head

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Greer Reed successfully completed the Certificate and Merit scholarship programs at The Ailey School and shortly after became a member of the outstanding Ailey II. The bulk of Ms. Reed’s professional career took place with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, retiring after 10 years in 2002 with the “Josie” Award for Outstanding Female Artist. Her dedication to young people is a driving force to enrich, empower and inspire. In the classroom, Ms. Reed focuses on dance curricula on academic quality, technique, and cultural experiences that reveal the transparency of thoughtfulness, refinement, and holistic teaching. As the 2018-2019 academic year began, The Chicago High School for the Arts welcomed Ms. Reed’s transformational teaching into their dance studios and classrooms as Chair of the Dance Department taking the Dance Conservatory scholar-artists to new heights. She is excited and committed to developing the next generation of incredible dancers who will redefine movement and honor past traditions while creating a heritage that reflects their voice. Along with her busy schedule, Greer recently received her B.A. from LaRoche University in Pittsburgh, PA with a 4.0 grade point average and the President’s Leadership and Scholarship Award, the highest honor La Roche University can bestow on a graduate for exemplary academic and leadership skills who best exemplify the values and characteristics of the college’s mission. She is currently a Master’s candidate at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT.

Nicole Scatchell
Ballet A + Musical Theatre Dance I + Musical Theatre Dance III

Nicole Scatchell is a Chicago native.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dance from Columbia College Chicago, as well as her certification to teach Dance K-12 from University of Milwaukee, WI.  As a young dancer Nicole trained at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Joffrey Ballet, and Ballet Legere.  Nicole has trained under the direction of Anna Paskevska, Liz Burrit, Jefferson Baum, Eduardo Vilaro, Krenly Guzman, Kathleen Hermsdorf, Darrel Jones to name a few.  She has performed with companies BONEdanse, Zephyr Dance, Get Down/Pick Up Company, David Dorfman, Dropshift Dance and has worked with choreographers such as Peter Carpenter, Reggie Wilson, Jan Bartosek, Tammy Thomas, Sean France, Jeff Hanncock, Jimmy Orrante, Emily Stein, among others.  She performed for audiences in Chicago, Scotland, Italy, France, Germany, New York as well as across the U.S as a soloist with the International Ballet Ensemble.   Nicole has been a dedicated dance educator in CPS, domestically, and internationally for 12+ years.   She is the Artistic Director of Chicago Dance Institute, All City Dance Ensemble Director, and on faculty at Harold Washington College, and Joffrey Academy.  She continues to work with countless non-profits across the U.S. teaching, training, and developing high-level dance programs for specific populations.  She led and directed international programming in Haiti where she worked with local children and trained over 20 local volunteers in pedagogy, in partnership with Worldwide Orphans.  Nicole also choreographs ChiArts’ Musical Theatre main stage productions.  She continues be a guest artist with Chicago choreographers, teach yoga, and perform with her improv comedy group.

Ted Seymour
Pointe II + Ballet Technique B

Ted Seymour was born in Dallas, Texas where he trained at the Dallas Metropolitan Ballet. He moved to Chicago to study with Dan Duell and Patricia Blair as a member of the Ballet Chicago Studio Company. Ted later attended The School of American Ballet where he choreographed two ballets for the school and was invited by Peter Martins to create a new ballet for the New York Choreographic Institute. After leaving SAB, he joined Cedar Lake Contemporary dance Company. Ted joined Suzanne Farrell Ballet in 2007 where he has danced featured roles in Balanchine’s Episodes, La Valse, and the Act II pas de deux from A Midsummer Night’s Dream among others.

Anna Shuba
Accompanist
Dereque Withers
Dance IV
Megan Wright
Ballet + Pointe + Injury Prevention/Nutrition + Professional Development

Megan is a Chicago native who danced professionally with the Los Angeles Ballet and the St. Louis Ballet. Some of her freelance work includes performances with the San Diego Ballet, Ballet Chicago, Comedy Central, and a variety of music video and photo shoots. Megan studied at Ballet Chicago and the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center, as well as summers at the School of American Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet School, American Ballet Theater, Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. She also teaches at Ballet Chicago, the Beverly Arts Center, and independently offers adult classes in her neighborhood. In addition, Megan is an alumni of DePaul University, the iO Theater, and a certified group fitness instructor.

Teanna Zarro
Ballet Technique Level E

Teanna Zarro was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She received her early ballet training with former Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo Soloist, Meredith Baylis. Zarro continued her studies with The Pennsylvania Ballet School, as well as studying on a full scholarship with The Joffrey Ballet School. At the age of seventeen, Ms. Zarro moved to New York to join The Joffrey Ballet II, and also performed as an apprentice with The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago.

In 1999, Ms. Zarro was invited to join The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, under the direction of Gerald Arpino. With The Joffrey, Ms. Zarro performed ballets by renowned choreographers such as Gerald Arpino, George Balanchine, Leonard Massine, Agnes de Mille, Vaslav Nijinsky, Frederick Ashton, and Martha Graham. Zarro has performed featured roles with Ballet New York, The Los Angeles Ballet, RPM Productions, Civic Ballet of Chicago, The San Diego Opera, The Dallas Opera, and The Lyric Opera of Chicago. Principal roles include: Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, The Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Medora in Le Corsaire, Swanilda in Coppelia, and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.

Ms. Zarro is a current faculty member of The Chicago High School for the Arts and Hyde Park School of Dance. Zarro co-directs the top tier of Hyde Park School of Dance’s studio company for youth dancers, alongside Artistic Director, August Tye.

Music

Melissa Arning
Voice for the Stage

Melissa Arning grew up in the Detroit suburbs, went to college in Cleveland, and now continues her tour of the Midwest at her home in Chicago. She credits her Midwestern roots with fostering her love of cars, Vernors, and Jello. A busy performer of both opera and oratorio, Ms. Arning’s roles include Ruth in Dark Sisters, Meg in Falstaff, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Cendrillon in Cendrillon, Muse/Nicklausse in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Pitti-Sing in The Mikado, Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel, Despina in Cosi fan tutte, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Mercedes in Carmen. For her work with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Ms. Arning also has two Grammy awards. In her spare time, she is a beekeeper.

Anthony Bruno
Music Department Head

Anthony Bruno has dedicated his life to music as a performer, educator, and creator. Born into a musical family, playing music has been a hallmark of his existence. He believes creativity and connection is the essence of music performance.

An in-demand saxophonist in Chicago, he has performed with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Larry Carlton (Steely Dan), Bobby Watson, Jeff Hamilton, Gerald Clayton, Bobby Broom, and Mary Wilson of The Supremes to name a few. Bruno has also performed at various music festivals such as the New York City Winter Jazz Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Chicago Blues Festival. He has released numerous recordings that can be found on all streaming platforms including multiple releases chosen for Spotify Editorial Playlists. Anthony is also an endorsing artist for Selmer Paris Saxophones and D’Addario Woodwind Products. Bruno’s main musical influences are Jazz, Afro-Cuban, and R&B and considers them the foundational language to his approach to music performance.

As an educator, Bruno has taught at ChiArts since 2010 and has served as the Jazz Coordinator since 2013. In this position, he has taken the Jazz Combo to perform at four Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conferences in Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego, and New Orleans. They have performed with numerous guest artists such as Antonio Hart, Bobby Watson, and Sean Jones. Additionally, he brought the Jazz Combo on a Peer to Peer tour with the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz to San Antonio and Austin, Texas with guest artists Bobby Watson and Lisa Henry. Bruno also organized a tour for the Jazz Combo throughout Los Angeles in 2019 which included performances and clinics at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and the Thelonious Monk Institute at UCLA.

In addition to his teaching at ChiArts, he has served as adjunct faculty at DePaul University teaching the Saxophone Technique course from 2010 to 2015. An experienced guest artist, clinician and arranger, he has worked with such schools and organizations as Dartmouth College, Youth Jazz Ensemble of DuPage, and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. Bruno also served as a guest director for the ILMEA District 1 Jazz Ensemble in 2018.

Anthony Bruno graduated Magna Cum Laude from DePaul University earning a BM in Music Education in 2007. He is a licensed Music Educator in the state of Illinois.

Justin Callis
Keyboard Skills for Vocalists I + Keyboard Skills for Vocalists II + Songwriting and Composition

Justin Callis is a teaching artist, music director, and composer here in Chicago. In addition to his work at ChiArts, he has worked extensively with youth of all ages and backgrounds. With COT for Teens, he has served as composer, music director, orchestrator, and arranger on Memories of Yesterday, an original musical based on materials from the StoryCorp archives, as well as leading a student orchestra with original orchestrations for Once on This Island. With Improv Playhouse, he has worked with students on Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, The Addams Family, High School Musical, and Newsies. With Storycatchers Theatre, he worked for many years with incarcerated youth, transforming stories from their lives into original musicals, and music directing and accompanying their performances. He helped over 100 elementary school students put on a production of Madagascar, Jr. this past spring, and served as the music director for a production of Thoroughly Modern Millie at Glencoe Central Middle School. He teaches private voice and piano lessons through Piano Power. He is the Music Director at Community Christian Church in Lincolnshire, where he prepares a choir of one dozen adults for weekly services of spiritual music. He is also the Music Director at Shir Tikvah Synagogue in Homewood, where he works with the adult choir as well. As a performer, he toured the country with Child’s Play Touring Theatre, performing original plays and musicals based on the work of children, and has performed extensively around the Chicagoland area with Chicago Opera Playhouse. Additionally, Ravenswood Community Orchestra recently premiered his Symphony No. 1 this past spring. He graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Science in Theatre and English and a Certificate in Music Theatre.

Chris Cashman
Spanish + Spanish for Native Speakers + Choral Experience

This is Chris Cashman’s fifth year at ChiArts. He received his B.A. in TESOL at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and spent a summer teaching English in Mexico while living with a pastoral family there. After teaching ESL at Harold Washington College for a year and a half, he decided to pursue a long-time goal of being a Spanish teacher and studied Spanish Linguistics at UIC (M.A. degree) and taught Spanish there. He completed education coursework at Northeastern and taught for two years at Oak Park & River Forest High School.

Mr.Cashman has been immersed in the Hispanic community in Chicago by being involved in a Spanish-speaking church. He serves as a youth ministry leader and a few years ago started a band in the church which he directs. He has served as the accompanist for Senior Chorale, and this year will be teaching Chorale Experience. Mr.Cashman has a wife and two children and lives in Humboldt Park.

Thomas Clippert
Guitar Technique I + Guitar Technique III + Guitar Technique IV + Guitar Ensemble II

Thomas Clippert savors the wide variety of music available for the guitar, from the early Renaissance to the present day. He frequently performs as both soloist and chamber musician throughout the Chicago area. He has appeared with a variety of ensembles including L’Opera Piccola, Heartland Voices, CUBE, Northwest Chicago String Quartet, Northwest Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the University of Chicago New Music Ensemble. Tom is a graduate of the Yale School of Music where he studied with Benjamin Verdery and was awarded the Eliot Fisk Guitar Prize. Additional studies include Phillip de Fremery at the Mount Holyoke Guitar Master Class and Patrick Roux at the Domaine Forget Music and Dance Academy in Quebec. In addition to being a founding faculty member at ChiArts, Tom teaches at Oakton Community College, The Sherwood Community Music School at Columbia College, and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Tom has been a featured artist at the Interlochen Fingerstyle Guitar Workshop.

David Corlew
Musical Theatre History & Literature + Vocal Tech + Rep IV
Jason Ellis
Acoustic Bass Technique + String Repertoire

Jason Ellis has played Broadway in Chicago productions including Million Dollar Quartet, Matilda, Beautiful, and School of Rock, as well as additional productions at Drury Lane, Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire, and the Paramount Theatre Aurora. Orchestral performances include Fulcrum Point New Music Project, the Memphis Symphony, and Oistrakh Symphony Chicago. His teaching experience includes the Jacobs School at Indiana University, Interlochen Center for the Arts/ The University of Michigan, Deerfield High School, Highland Park High School, and Harvard-Westlake Los Angeles. Jason has performed with jazz luminaries such as Bobby Watson, James Williams, Aaron Parks, Ira Sullivan, Melvin Rhyne, Derrick Gardner, and Fareed Haque: additional performances highlights include SNL legend Joe Piscopo, The Voice winner Josh Kaufman, the Atlanta Olympic Games, and the Kennedy Center. His primary teachers are Lawrence Hurst, Bruce Bransby, John Clayton, and Rufus Reid, as well as electric bass instructors Victor Wooten and Oteil Burbridge. Jason endorses Lakland basses, Acoustic Image amplifiers, and Genz Benz amplifiers; his upright basses are a 1939 Kay and a 1996 Rumano Solano.

Rebecca Faber
Upper Strings Technique + Intro to String Quartet + String Ensemble

From playing classical music at Orchestra Hall to rock music on Warped Tour, Rebecca is a violinist, songwriter, producer, and educator who has used her classical music training to focus on innovating and blend genre lines. The genre-bending efforts began in undergrad at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, when she founded the rock band, The Lifeline. She used her training to give the band a unique performance quality, utilizing live looping techniques, as well as sequencing and sampling to enhance the presence of her violin. As a result she has graced the stages of many of the city’s finest venues such as Metro, House of Blues, Aragon Ballroom, Lincoln Hall, Beat Kitchen, Bottom Lounge, Double Door, Soldier Field, Subterranean, Cubby Bear and Goose Island Wrigleyville. In addition, she’s also been a part of many festivals and tours, such as SXSW, CMJ, Taste of Chicago, Taste of Chaos Tour, Warped Tour, Milwaukee Summerfest, and Q101 Block Party which further expand her influence. Rebecca Faber has worked with some of the best engineers and producers in the country. Names like Steve Albini (Nirvana), Chris Shepard (Chicago Recording Company), Sean O’Keefe (Plain White T’s), and Johnny Rioux (The Bruisers, Social Distortion, Street Dogs) are just a few of the diverse individuals that have helped Rebecca hone her craft and continue to innovate. As a result of work in the recording industry, she has become a voting member of The Recording Academy of Arts and Sciences, voting for the Grammys in both the musician categories and the Producers and Engineering Wing. She is also an ASCAP member and recipient of the ASCAP Plus Award in two consecutive years. In the spirit of giving back and inspiring others to use music as an outlet, Rebecca has taught in various settings, including privately, through the Ravinia Festival, at the Chicago High School for the Arts, and through online content on Reverb.com. Growing up in Chicago, Rebecca studied pre-college at the Merit School of Music, Midwest Young Artists’ Program, and studying privately under Laura Miller (Lyric Opera of Chicago). She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, studying violin performance under Peter Schaffer (Concertmaster, San Francisco Symphony). Continuing studies/additional training include playing master classes and lessons with David Kim (Concertmaster, Philadelphia Orchestra), Nathan Cole (Assistant Concertmaster, LA Philharmonic), Lisa-Beth Lambert (National Symphony), Cornelius Chiu (Chicago Symphony), Christopher Wu (Pittsburgh Symphony), and studied chamber music under the Avalon String Quartet.

Sarah Inendino
Interim Vocal Chair

Sarah Inendino is originally from Northern Michigan, where she graduated with high honors from Interlochen Arts Academy and studied voice. She attended Northwestern University where she earned a Bachelors of Music in Music Education with a specialization in choral education. Sarah completed her Masters of Arts degree at Columbia University in New York City. Her specializations include choral conducting and voice pedagogy.

Sarah began her career by conducting children’s choirs in Wilmette, Illinois and teaching private voice lessons. Afterwards, she taught 3rd-5th grade general music and chorus for eight years in Glenview, Illinois. Sarah left her position in Glenview to purse a PhD in Music Education, and is a fourth year Doctoral Candidate at the University of Michigan. While at the University of Michigan, she specialized in choral conducting, spending two years as the assistant choral conductor for the Michigan Youth Ensembles. Sarah also works with the Harper Festival Chorus as their assistant conductor, and is the director of Cantabile for the Schaumburg Youth Choir. Sarah also teaches in the School of Education for Lake Forest College.

Additionally, Sarah is also active in musical theatre, as a performer, vocal coach, and music director. As a performer she has had the opportunity to perform many lead roles in the Chicagoland area. Some of her favorite roles include Jillian in Fanatical (American Demigods), Sister Amenisa in Nuncrackers (Steel Beam Theatre), and Cinderella in Into the Woods (Edge of the Wood Theatre). In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family, bird watching, and yoga.

Alicia Poot Kelly
Department Assistant + Flute Technique + Music Theory Fundamentals + Concert Band

Alicia Poot Kelly (“Poot” rhymes with “boat”) is an orchestral and chamber flutist in and around Chicago. From 2009-2014 she was a core member of “Palomar,” the performing arm of Chicago composer resource Access Contemporary Music (ACM). Other performance credits include work with the Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Southwest Michigan, and Northwest Indiana Symphonies, Whiting Park Festival Orchestra, Pine Mountain Music Festival, Lira Ensemble, New Millennium Orchestra, Highland Park Strings, Chicago Composers’ Orchestra, The Irish Tenors, Bach and Beyond, Anaphora, International Chamber Artists, and Crossing Borders Music Collective. Mrs. Kelly has also been a faculty member at Merit School of Music, and has worked with student composers through the Young Composers Program at Cleveland Institute of Music and ACM’s High School Composers Workshop. She has been a winner or finalist in several competitions hosted by organizations such as The National Flute Association, Tuesday Musical Society, Madison Area Flute Association, and has performed in festivals in Canada and Italy: Orford Arts Centre, Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific, Rome Festival, and the Julius Baker Masterclasses. She has studied at DePaul University, The University of Akron (MM), Western Michigan University (BM), and The Catholic University of America.

Jeff Kelly
Drumset I + Drumset II + Music Technology

Jeff Kelly has played and studied drum set and percussion for more than three decades. He was fortunate to have received a large part of his training from the late Alan Dawson, who mentored such drum set luminaries as Tony Williams and Vinnie Colaiuta. He studied Music at Boston University, and went on to earn his Masters Degree from The Berklee College of Music & Boston Conservatory. There he continued his drum set work under the tutelage of Ron Savage, and Jon Hazilla, who was a student of Max Roach’s. He studied Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music with Ed Uribe, Sa Davis, and Bobby Sanabria (Dizzy Gillespe) and West African drumming with Joe Galeota (maker of JAG drums). He traveled to Ghana for additional study with Emanuel, Rueben, and Victor Agbeli, sons of Master Drummer Godwin Agbeli. Jeff is an experienced, enthusiastic, and dedicated drum teacher who performs in genres including jazz, funk, folk, rock, r&b, pop, and “other.” In addition to his performance work, he is a producer, a recording engineer with major label credits, a songwriter whose works have gotten international airplay, and a composer for clients such as Twentieth Century Fox, MTV, Frito Lay, and Pepsi. Having worked on production teams with Grammy nominees and Oscar winners, he brings to his classroom an understanding of the type of professionalism it takes to succeed in the music industry. He also teaches at Dominican University, holds an MBA (Finance) degree, is married to Mrs. Kelly, and is a father of 2. Interests close to Jeff’s heart are science, economics, history, football, and he loves to fish, having twice caught ferocious Northern Pikes over 45 inches.

Betsy Ko
Band Director

Betsy Ko is a founding faculty member of ChiArts, Chicago’s first public arts high school.  Ms. Ko previously served as Music Department Head since the school opened its doors in the fall of 2009. She now serves as the ChiArts Band Director and has overseen growth in that program from 9 students in 2009 to a current enrollment of 46.  In March 2018, the ChiArts Wind Ensemble under Ms. Ko’s direction was honored to receive the honor of “Best in Day” designation at the Illinois High School Association’s Organizational Contest.   Ms. Ko is also a long time flute faculty member at Merit School of Music where she teaches individuals and groups of all levels. She has coached the Purple Hippopotami Flute Quartet for many years and saw that group earn 3rd place in the prestigious M-Prize Chamber Music competition (Junior Winds division) in May 2018.  A native of New York, Ms. Ko has been an active performer in the Chicago area since arriving here in 1991. She currently performs with the Northshore Concert Band. Ms. Ko received her M.M. in flute performance from DePaul University where she studied with Mary Stolper. Her undergraduate degree was in pure mathematics from Brown University. She additionally holds Illinois Type 10 certification in music.

Adam LaSalle
Choir and Music History
Erica Lessie
Cello Technique + Keyboard Skills I + Theory Fundamentals + Piano Practice Hall

Erica Lessie received her BM in cello performance from Indiana University, where she studied with Fritz Magg. At Florida State University she earned an MM in cello performance and completed coursework for a DMA. Currently, she is teaching at DePaul University Community Music Division, Sherwood Community Music School at Columbia College and Chicago High School for the Arts. Ms. Lessie is a freelance cellist in the Chicago area. She is a founding member of the cross-style string quartet Red Riding Hood and co-founder of Cherchez la Femme, an ensemble dedicated to performing works by women. She is also an auxiliary member of the rock band Tributosaurus.

Taylor Mallory
All Style Singing & Songwriting

Taylor Mallory is a professional singer, songwriter, actor, and Level Next Music recording artist. As a music artist, he’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, JET, Windy City Live! and nominated for Best Male Vocalist for the Chicago Music Awards. His acting highlights include national print, radio, and commercial ads from Corona, Newport, McDonalds, Xfinity and many more. Recently, he made his film debut on NBC’s Chicago P.D. as Darius Brown. Above all, Mallory uses his artistry as an entertainer to uplift and encourage those who have experienced childhood trauma and sexual abuse; his message is simple “You are enough and your healing starts with you.” He is a member of the F.A.M.E. foundation and SAG-AFTRA. His Level Next Music team actively mentors and motivates youth in the inner cities, specifically the South, West, and South suburban areas of Chicago. He closes each class session with the following statement “My passion, will be my profession.”

Dr. Heather V McCowen
Bassoon, Director of Programs-ChiArts Foundation

Heather McCowen, Ph.D. is the Director of Programs at The ChiArts Foundation and teaches bassoon lessons for the Music Conservatory. She began her career at ChiArts as the founding Post Secondary Adviser (college counselor), creating the college counseling program and helping the first eight graduating classes with their college searches. Prior to this position, Dr. McCowen was the Assistant Dean for Enrollment and Student Services for the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and served as Associate Dean for Admissions at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA. Dr. McCowen holds a Bachelor of Music in Bassoon Performance (with a concentration in Music Business) from Northwestern University, the Master of Music in Bassoon Performance from Southern Methodist University and the Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education (with a minor in Marketing) from the University of North Texas’s College of Education. An Alum of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, she has performed with the symphonic orchestras of Dallas, Fort Worth, Shreveport, Oak Park and River Forest (among others). Currently she performs with the Northshore Concert Band, the top adult wind ensemble in the country. Dr. McCowen lives in the South Loop with her husband Paul and her 9year old son, Theo. Her stepson Alex will complete his MA in Arts Administration at the School of the Art Institute in December of 2021.

Caryn Ott Hillman
Movement for Vocalists + Senior Project for Vocalists

Caryn Ott Hillman started dancing at the age of three. After falling in love with singing, she attended Roosevelt University for a Music Degree in Vocal Performance. Caryn then performed in musicals throughout Chicago at Equity and Non-Equity theaters. After starting a family, she dedicated her time to directing and choreographing shows for the youth at Light Opera Works, Chicago Opera Theater, After School Matters and Opera for All. Caryn continues all the above, as well as, teaching and directing Musical Theater at Lycee Francais of Chicago, and of Course – The great Chicago High School for the Arts!

Patrick Rehker
Clarinet Techniques + Wind Repertoire

Patrick currently free-lances in the Chicagoland area, teaching and gigging. He is a full time member of the Rockford Symphony and has performed with the Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Elgin, Kalamazoo, Illinois, Elmhurst, South Bend, Quad City Symphonies as well as the Illinois and Las Vegas Philharmonic and the Highland Park Strings. Other groups include OperaModa, Chicago Opera Vanguard, and the Downers Grove Choral Society. Patrick has also performed with the Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman, Paramount, Drury Lane, Timeline, Porchlight, Marriott, Writer’s, Royal George and Court Theatre Companies, as well as the American Girl Revue. Other performances include soloing at Carnegie Hall, Chicago Cultural Center’s Sunday Salon Series, and playing on WFMT. Aside from performing, He was a clarinet play-tester/technician at the Conn-Selmer factory in Kenosha, WI. Currently, Patrick is an Artist Clinician for D’Addario Woodwinds and provides free educational classes to schools in the Chicagoland area. As a teacher, he holds studios at Concordia University, Moraine Valley Community College, The Chicago High School for the Arts, and the First Conservatory of LaGrange. Patrick received his Masters from Northwestern University and Bachelors from Middle Tennessee State University.

Devvora Papatheodorou Schreier
Piano Ensemble I + Piano Repertoire + Piano Technique I & III + Piano Accompaniment

Devvora Papatheodorou Schreier has an M.M. in Piano Performance from DePaul University, a B.M. in Piano Performance from Nikos Skalkotas Conservatory and a Degree in Harmony from Model Conservatory. During her Master’s degree, she studied piano with Mary Sauer of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition, she studied piano technique and chamber music with Deborah Sobol of the Chicago Chamber Musicians for five years after the completion of her Master’s. She has had master classes with Mary Stolper, Yehuda Hanani, Jerry Grossman, William Cernota, and Christopher Costanza, among others. Ms. Papatheodorou has extensive experience in teaching piano, piano ensemble and theory. She has had training and certification in YAMAHA’s Clavinova lab and trained piano faculty in group class repertoire, class management and methodologies. Ms. Papatheodorou has coached one‐piano four‐hand and two‐piano ensembles, as well as mixed chamber groups for several years and currently teaches at Dominican University, where she also serves as Director of the Music Discipline. She has had several years of solo, chamber music and one-piano found-hands performing experience, as well as accompanying other instrumentalists and vocalists.

Dr. Brooks Truly
Percussion Coordinator + Percussion Ensemble + Percussion Fundamentals + Orchestral Percussion Technique + Advanced Percussion Technique + Audition Prep and Repertoire for Percussion

Dr. Brooks Truly serves on the faculty of both ChiArts and Morton College. He also performs with the world fusion group Callaloo and is a freelance musician with various other groups in the Chicago area. He has taught percussion at several universities, secondary and primary schools, and has performed with dozens of orchestras and chamber groups as a section/principal percussionist and featured soloist, as well as hundreds of drum set and theater performances throughout the Gulf Coast, South Florida, and Midwest areas. During this time, he has shared the stage with such artists as Lil Greenwood, Bobby Shew, Louie Bellson, Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, Jim Walker, Yo-Yo Ma, Michel Camilo, Andrea Bocelli, Ramsey Lewis, Paul Potts, Faith Hill, Elvis Costello, Evanescence, Lindsey Stirling, Hanson, Celtic Thunder, and Il Divo to name a few, and has worked with such conductors/composers as Scott Speck, Aaron Jay Kernis, Susie Seiter, James Judd, Helmuth Rilling, Sir Andrew Davis, Michael Tilson Thomas, Philippe Entremont, Russell Peck, Placido Domingo, and Phillip Glass, among others, and was a percussionist in the world premiere of Mason Bates’ Music for Percussion and Orchestra. Recently he was invited to present his doctoral essay, The Afro-Cuban Abakuá as a performance/demonstration at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC). 

Dr. Truly holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, a Master of Music degree from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of South Alabama, all in the field of Percussion Performance. He is an endorsed performing artist with Remo Drumheads, Sabian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, and is a member of the Black Swamp Percussion Educators Network. Former teachers include Ney Rosauro, Shannon Wood, Ted Atkatz, Richie Bravo, Ed Harrison, Vadim Karpinos, Paul Wertico, Ruben Alvarez, and John Papastefan.

Anna Velzo
Oboe

Theatre

Tosha Alston
African Dance + Movement I for Actors
David Blixt
Theatre History + Stage Combat

David Blixt is an author and actor. As an Artistic Associate at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival since 2000, he has played such roles as Macbeth, Petruchio, Benedick, Mark Antony, Mercutio, Pistol, Orsino, Oberon, and many more. He received a Wilde Award for Best Actor In A Comedy for his portrayal of Algernon in 2014’s THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. ​ As a Fight Director, he has choreographed all manner of violence, from comedic to horrific. Davis is also an author of historical fiction. His latest novel, WHAT GIRLS ARE GOOD FOR: A NOVEL OF NELLY BLY, was an Amazon bestseller for six months straight. His series of Star-Cross’d novels starting with THE MASTER OF VERONA (set at the birth of Renaissance Italy) is a critical and reader favorite. ​ In life, David describes himself as an “actor, author, father, husband, in reverse order.”

Levizadik Buckins
Contemporary Jazz + Senior Repertoire + Dance II for Theatre

Levizadik Buckins began his dance education at the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, Connecticut. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, under the direction of Ethan Stiefel. During his time at UNCSA, he worked with choreographers such as Brenda Daniels, Trish Casey, and Diego Schoch. He has also had the chance to work with well-known choreographers Maurya Kerr, Larry Keigwin, Scott Rink, and Trish Lent. He has performed professionally with the Winston-Salem Festival of Ballet under the direction of Gary Taylor in North Carolina, and River North Dance Chicago under the direction of Frank Chaves. While at River North Dance Chicago he worked with Adam Barruch, Kevin Iega Jeff, Ashley Roland, and Ivan Perez. Levizadik is currently in his second year as a dance instructor at the Chicago High School of the Arts.

Annie Calhoun
Theatre Department Head + Theatre Studio + Movement I
Annie Calhoun believes in the power of equity in arts education. The passion behind this belief led her to become a founding ChiArts teacher in 2009 and then took her all the way to South Los Angeles where she co-founded Kipp Scholar Academy and created their theatre program. She holds a teaching degree from Taylor University in Theatre and English and is IL certified for grades 6-12. Ms. Calhoun also received her MFA in Acting from DePaul’s Theatre School. She returned to Chicago two years ago after five years of teaching, directing and performing in Los Angeles. In LA, Ms. Calhoun taught and directed at the Professional (Adlerimprov), Collegiate (USC), and High School (LA County HS for the Arts) levels; she also founded an inner city theatre program in South LA (Kipp Scholar). She is a novelist and playwright whose pieces have been performed on stages all over Los Angeles and an actor whose work ranges from theater and film, to improv and stand up comedy.
A Chicago native, she is rooted in the values of play, ensemble, rigor and creative new work. While in Chicago she completed iO’s training and then performed there regularly, as well as The Annoyance. One of her favorite experiences was being included as the first improvised play Steppenwolf allowed in their Garage space with a group she founded called ALMOST ATLANTA. The breadth and depth of her expertise in education and theatre offer a vast array of skills from classroom management and facilitating diversity, equity & inclusion to building ensemble among students and staff, and measuring student growth outcomes.
David Corlew
Musical Theatre History & Literature + Vocal Tech + Rep IV
Jason Ellis
Music Theory Fundamentals + Keyboarding Skills

Jason Ellis has played Broadway in Chicago productions including Million Dollar Quartet, Matilda, Beautiful, and School of Rock, as well as additional productions at Drury Lane, Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire, and the Paramount Theatre Aurora. Orchestral performances include Fulcrum Point New Music Project, the Memphis Symphony, and Oistrakh Symphony Chicago. His teaching experience includes the Jacobs School at Indiana University, Interlochen Center for the Arts/ The University of Michigan, Deerfield High School, Highland Park High School, and Harvard-Westlake Los Angeles. Jason has performed with jazz luminaries such as Bobby Watson, James Williams, Aaron Parks, Ira Sullivan, Melvin Rhyne, Derrick Gardner, and Fareed Haque: additional performances highlights include SNL legend Joe Piscopo, The Voice winner Josh Kaufman, the Atlanta Olympic Games, and the Kennedy Center. His primary teachers are Lawrence Hurst, Bruce Bransby, John Clayton, and Rufus Reid, as well as electric bass instructors Victor Wooten and Oteil Burbridge. Jason endorses Lakland basses, Acoustic Image amplifiers, and Genz Benz amplifiers; his upright basses are a 1939 Kay and a 1996 Rumano Solano.

Denton Harris
Ensemble Singing
Christian Helem
Playwriting

Christian Helem is a playwright, director and actor from Chicago. He is an alum of the inaugural Theatre Acting class of ChiArts. He went to UIC and earned a BA in Theatre and Performance with concentrations in Playwriting and Acting. He has been seen in “Florissant and Canfield”, “The Piano Lesson”, and the musical “Passing Strange”.

Risha Hill
Voice and Speech I + II + III

Risha Hill is a 2003 graduate of the MFA Acting program at the California Institute of the Arts. Risha taught in and around Los Angeles for seven years and moved to Chicago in 2014. She currently is a theater teaching artist in several organizations in the city and is now in her second year of teaching at ChiArts.

Kyra Leigh
Vocal Tech and Rep III
Taylor Mallory
All Style Singing & Songwriting

Taylor Mallory is a professional singer, songwriter, actor, and Level Next Music recording artist. As a music artist, he’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, JET, Windy City Live! and nominated for Best Male Vocalist for the Chicago Music Awards. His acting highlights include national print, radio, and commercial ads from Corona, Newport, McDonalds, Xfinity and many more. Recently, he made his film debut on NBC’s Chicago P.D. as Darius Brown. Above all, Mallory uses his artistry as an entertainer to uplift and encourage those who have experienced childhood trauma and sexual abuse; his message is simple “You are enough and your healing starts with you.” He is a member of the F.A.M.E. foundation and SAG-AFTRA. His Level Next Music team actively mentors and motivates youth in the inner cities, specifically the South, West, and South suburban areas of Chicago. He closes each class session with the following statement “My passion, will be my profession.”

Matt Mitchell
Applied Production
Kathy Scambiatterra
Acting III for Actors + Directing

Kathy Scambiatterra is Artistic Director and co-founder of The Artistic Home. Chicago acting credits include: Beaten, The American Plan, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Skin of Our Teeth, Look Homeward Angel, Juno and the Paycock, Natural Affection, Orpheus Descending (The Artistic Home); The Glass Menagerie, Nelson Algren Live, The Diary of Anne Frank (Steppenwolf); Broadway Bound (Drury Lane Oakbrook); A Flea in her Ear (Chicago Shakespeare); Romeo and Juliet (Goodman Theatre), among others. Regional credits: The Quick Change Room (Pacific Resident Theatre). TV/Film credits: Chicago PD, The Appointment, Draggage, Sin Collector, Into the Wake. She has received 4 leading role Jeff nominations for work in Sweet Bird of Youth, Natural Affection, Abundance, The School for Wives. As a director, she has helmed acclaimed, Jeff nominated and After Dark Award winning productions for The Artistic Home including: Waiting for Lefty, In the Boom Boom Room, Angel City, After the Fall, Street Scene, Peer Gynt, The Madwoman of Chaillot, The Petrified Forest, Modigliani, Days to Come, The Touch of the Poet, The Night of the Iguana. Other directing credits: The Copperhead (City Lit) Angel City, Welcome to the Moon and Other Plays (LA Dramalogue Award), A Christmas Carol (Pacific Resident Theater (LA). Ms. Scambiatterra is the director of the actor training program at The Artistic Home Studio. In addition, she has taught at The Steppenwolf School, Columbia College, Center Theater’s The Training Center, Chicago, IL; Carolyn Berry Studio, The Pacific Resident Theatre LA, CA; Director’s Symposium, US Army, Heidelberg, Germany; Screen Training Ireland, Dublin, Ireland; and currently at The Chicago High School for the Arts.

Nicole Scatchell
Ballet A + Musical Theatre Dance I + Musical Theatre Dance III

Nicole Scatchell is a Chicago native.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dance from Columbia College Chicago, as well as her certification to teach Dance K-12 from University of Milwaukee, WI.  As a young dancer Nicole trained at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Joffrey Ballet, and Ballet Legere.  Nicole has trained under the direction of Anna Paskevska, Liz Burrit, Jefferson Baum, Eduardo Vilaro, Krenly Guzman, Kathleen Hermsdorf, Darrel Jones to name a few.  She has performed with companies BONEdanse, Zephyr Dance, Get Down/Pick Up Company, David Dorfman, Dropshift Dance and has worked with choreographers such as Peter Carpenter, Reggie Wilson, Jan Bartosek, Tammy Thomas, Sean France, Jeff Hanncock, Jimmy Orrante, Emily Stein, among others.  She performed for audiences in Chicago, Scotland, Italy, France, Germany, New York as well as across the U.S as a soloist with the International Ballet Ensemble.   Nicole has been a dedicated dance educator in CPS, domestically, and internationally for 12+ years.   She is the Artistic Director of Chicago Dance Institute, All City Dance Ensemble Director, and on faculty at Harold Washington College, and Joffrey Academy.  She continues to work with countless non-profits across the U.S. teaching, training, and developing high-level dance programs for specific populations.  She led and directed international programming in Haiti where she worked with local children and trained over 20 local volunteers in pedagogy, in partnership with Worldwide Orphans.  Nicole also choreographs ChiArts’ Musical Theatre main stage productions.  She continues be a guest artist with Chicago choreographers, teach yoga, and perform with her improv comedy group.

Rachel Slavick
Musical Theatre Acting II + Acting IV + Advanced Movement

Rachel Slavick has been teaching acting for 24 years. Rachel is also faculty at The Theatre School of DePaul University and acts and directs in the Chicago theatre community. She is currently directing the second of The North Shore Trilogy, Pakalolo Sweet, having directed the first (Not One Batu) last summer and will direct all three next summer of 2020.

Jason Sperling
Acting I for Acting Majors + Acting III for Musical Theatre Majors

Jason Sperling works as an actor, singer, teacher, and director around Chicago, and has taught at ChiArts since 2011. He is an emeritus founding company member of Barrel of Monkeys, a children’s writing and theater program, and worked with them for over twenty years. Mr. Sperling created and taught the drama program at St. Juliana School, as well as directing there for seven years; he taught and directed with the CAST program in Oak Park for ten years; he was a poet/educator with the Chicago Park District/Chicago Humanities Festival’s Words@Play program; and he has also taught or music directed for Beverly Arts Center, Raven Theatre, and Prologue Theatre. Additionally, Mr. Sperling has taught, directed, and music directed with Elmhurst Children’s Theatre since 2009, and directed the student-authored sketch comedy show at Chicago Improv Festival’s Summer Theatre Camp in 2009. He has worked as a performer at theatres including Marriott, Drury Lane, Apple Tree, Northlight, Theatre at the Center, Noble Fool, and Ravinia.

Jessica Dean Turner
Acting II + Professional Development for Actors + Diverse Playwrights

Ms. Turner is a native of Chicago’s west side, and is entering her third year here at ChiArts. She received her BFA in Acting from the University of Illinois and her MA in Educational Theatre from New York University. Ms. Turner has toured and taught nationally. She has acted at Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Shakespeare Festival, Great River Shakespeare Festival, Victory Gardens, Goodman, Steep Theatre, Congo Square, House Theatre, Griffin Theatre, and Haven Theatre. TV credits include: Chicago PD, Crisis, and short films “You Too” (which she featured alongside ChiArts students!) and “Black Womxn”. She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild.

AJ Wester
Vocal Tech + Rep I and II
Scott Westerman
Department Assistant + Acting IV + Shakespeare & Wilson + Advanced Theatre Studio

Scott does, makes, teaches, and directs theatre in Chicago. He is an ensemble member with The Artistic Home, teaches for ChiArts and The Theatre School at DePaul University, and thoroughly enjoys leading acting intensives, playwriting and devising residencies, and theatre retreats for Red Barn Learning Center. (GoToRedBarn.com) Directing credits include shows with The Artistic Home, City Lit, Chimera, Citadel, beyond this point, Barter Theatre, The Shakespeare Theatre Company (Camp Shakespeare), Stage Left (Downstage Left), Northlight Theatre Academy, The Smithsonian Institution, American Theatre Company (Bridge), Impulse Theatre Company, the National High School Institute (Cherubs), ChiArts, and Reverie Theatre Company, of which he was a co-founder and co-Artistic Director. Acting credits include work with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Ford’s, Everyman, the Warehouse, the Barter, Northlight Theatre, The Artistic Home, Chicago Dramatists, Strawdog, Lifeline, Stage Left, Apple Tree, A Crew of Patches, Mary Arrchie, Festival Theatre of Oak Park, and Reverie. Film credits include Machine Gun Preacher and Prison Break. Scott has an MFA in Classical Acting from The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University. www.ScottWesterman.org

Tristien Winfree
Beginning Filmmaking
Dereque Withers
Dance IV
Josh Zambrano
Musical Theatre Acting I

Visual Arts

Melina Ausikaitis
Wearable Sculpture

Melina Ausikaitis is a multidisciplinary artist and musician from Chicago. She has exhibited and performed all over the country and traveled the world playing in her band Joan of Arc. She is as much an inventor/historian as an artist. Check out her drawings, videos, sculptures, garments and Halloween costumes at melinaausikaitis.com

Kayce Bayer
Drawing by Design

Kayce is an artist educator, designer and mom. She studied Studio Art (and music, too!) at Florida State University, and earned her MFA from Memphis College of Art in Tennessee. Her practice is varied, working across media and collaborating with artists, writers, musicians, and community members to explore personal stories, histories, places, and art experience outside of institutional spaces. Kayce has over 15 years experience as an arts and design educator and is honored to spend her days with the amazing young people at The Chicago High School for the Arts! In all creative pursuits – as teacher, collaborator, maker – Kayce sees art as a place to inspire curiosity and critical literacy.

Whitney Bradshaw
Visual Arts Department Head + AP Photography Instructor

Whitney Bradshaw is an artist, activist, educator, curator, and former social worker. Bradshaw has been the head of the visual art conservatory at ChiArts since the fall of 2012. Bradshaw’s work has been exhibited widely including solo shows at the DePaul Art Museum (Chicago), The Lubeznik Center for the Arts (Michigan City, Indiana), The Tarble Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University, the Wave Pool Contemporary Art Fulfillment Center (Cincinnati), The Show Gallery (St Paul) and the Museum of Surgical Science (Chicago). Additionally, her work was curated into the Dock6 Design + Art 13, 2020 (Chicago), Female in Focus 2020 at the Center for Fine Art Photography (Fort Collins, Colorado), and the Terrain Biennial 2020 (Chicago). She has also shown work at Box 13 Artspace (Houston), James Kearney Campus Gallery at New Jersey State (Trenton), Iceberg Projects (Chicago), Brooks Stevens Gallery at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (Milwaukee), Gallery 400 at University of Illinois Chicago and the Midway Art Fair (Chicago). Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the DePaul Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago, Northwestern School of Law, the Sara M. and Michelle Vance Waddell Collection (Cincinnati), and numerous other private collections. Additionally, her work has been published and/or reviewed in the New York Times, Columbia College’s 6×6 series, Time Out New York, New City, the MCA Chicago catalog for The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music 1965-Now, Esthetic Lens Magazine, the LA Times, The Calodian Record (Vermont), the Chicago Tribune, and WTTW’s Chicago Tonight did a segment on Bradshaw’s work in 2018.

Bradshaw was formerly the assistant curator of the renowned LaSalle Bank Photography Collection and the curator of photography for the Bank of America Collection. While curating for 13 years, Bradshaw was an adjunct professor in the photography department at Columbia College Chicago where she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in theory and practice. In 1991 Bradshaw attained a BA in Sociology with a minor in Women’s Studies from Eastern Illinois University, a program she spearheaded and was the first to graduate with a degree in. From 1991-1997 Bradshaw worked in Chicago as a social worker. In 2001 she was named one of the top 10 MFA candidates and awarded the College Art Association Regional MFA Exhibition at UIC’s Gallery 400. She graduated with her MFA from Columbia College Chicago in 2001. You can learn more about Bradshaw’s work on her website, whitneybradshaw.com.
Megan Greene
AP Drawing + Painting

A native of Buffalo, NY, Megan Greene graduated with honors from the University of Notre Dame in 1998, and earned an MFA degree from Rutgers University in 2002. Ms. Greene is represented by Regards in Chicago and Kinz Tillou Fine Art in New York. She is also the mother of twin girls.

Megan Kalmes
Painting I + Drawing III

Megan Kalmes is an artist and educator living and working in Chicago. Megan works traditionally with oil on canvas. Her paintings are figurative and often depict a feminine protagonist entranced within her own psyche – a sort of psychological landscape. Megan loves art history and embraces the fundamentals of painting and drawing. She believes that figuration can be more than a reflection of the self or of society; transcending beyond mere representation to a place of greater sensitivity and call upon the nature of being. The act of self-reviewing is present in Megan’s personal work and in her teaching. Her painting practice informs her communication with students providing enrichment and development from a place of emotional investment. Megan has taught with the Early College Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa. Megan also has experience with after-school programming working with vulnerable and at-risk youth groups. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and Minor in Art History from Clarke University. Megan also holds Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio and an MFA in Painting from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Patrick Lentz
Digital Photography I
With a background in educational psychology and art, Patrick believes that the camera has the power to transform the way we understand the world and the people around us. By mixing practices of documentary photography, community organizing, and youth engagement, his goal is to encourage young people in Chicago to be their own storytellers through visual images.
His work ranges from documenting community actions and protests to exploring personal narratives around grief and nostalgia. Working with a mixture of analog photography and digital, he believes in the power of storytelling and sees it as an inherently political process.
As a recent undergraduate from University of Illinois at Chicago, he continues to examine the crossroads of education, photography, and social movements through curriculum development, and youth programming.
Chris Lin Dao-Heng
Intro to Visual Communications + Sequential Art for Writers

Chris Lin is an interdisciplinary artist based in Chicago, working in media including films, books, puppetry, music, and installation. Born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, he moved to British Columbia, Canada and received his BFA with honor from University of Victoria in 2005. After relocating to Chicago, Mr. Lin pursued an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and graduated in 2008. His exhibition history includes Contemporary Art Workshop, Eel Space, and OP Shop in Chicago, Verge Art Fair in New York, Deluge Contemporary Art and 50/50 Arts Collective in Victoria, BC, and Atlantic Centre for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL. His visual art and short stories has been published in Fiction At Work and Balliwik. Mr. Lin is the co-founder and collaborative director at Good Stuff House, a performance and publishing art collaborative, and the founding member and ukulele player of the folk-thrash-hop duo Hannis Pannis.
abalonemoney.com

Kera MacKenzie
Digital Media and Experimental Animation

Kera MacKenzie is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily in film, video, live broadcast and installation. Her works have explored radical subjectivities, the mechanisms of empathy, suspense, liveness, and control. She has screened and exhibited at spaces including the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Anthology Film Archives and UnionDocs (New York City), the MassArt Film Society (Boston), Microlights (Milwaukee), Iowa City International Documentary Film Festival, La lumière collective (Montreal), Cellular Cinema (Minneapolis), and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, The Nightingale, and Chicago Underground Film Festival (all Chicago). Kera has been an artist in residence at The Luminary (St. Louis), ACRE (Wisconsin), Culturia (Berlin), and most recently at Signal Culture (Owego, NY). She received her MFA in Moving Image from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2013. Additionally, Kera is a Founding Co-Director of ACRE TV, an artist-made live-streaming television network (ACRETV.org), and an educator.

Dave Musgrave
Sculpture I

BFA, 2011, School of the Art Institute, Chicago, IL; MFA, 2016, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA. Exhibitions: NURTUREart Gallery, NYC; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Parson Paris Gallery, Paris; VideoFag, Toronto; Defibrillator, Chicago; Enemy, Chicago

Alison Rigell
AP Art History + Intro to Art History + Junior Professional Development
Alison Rigell is an artist, educator, and permanent student of all creative realms including, but not limited to: visual and performing arts, as well as the art of leadership.  While she practices across many disciplines of art such as drawing, painting, performance, and sculpture, she also enjoys exploring all the ways in which creativity is present and can be used on a moment by moment basis of everyday life. Beyond her personal practice, Alison is a devout believer in the power of art beyond traditional expression and practice: regarding it highly as an ever expanding opportunity to address and resolve complex issues our world continues to face. She received the majority of her formal education at University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, earning a BFA in Art Education and then completing her second BFA in New Media at Queensland College of Art in Brisbane, Australia.  She has since continued her education in and outside the classroom, teaching art to students from a range of diverse backgrounds and ages, through both traditional public teaching positions as well as community based arts initiatives.  Alison is privileged to continue her growth as an artist and educator at ChiArts, and is honored to become a contributing member of such an important and gifted community. alisonlenore.carbonmade.com
Moises Salazar
The Mural and AP Sculpture
Moises Salazar is a non-binary queer artist from Chicago. Being first-generation Mexican American has cemented a conflict within Moises Salazar’s political identity, which is the conceptual focus of their practice. Whether addressing queer or immigrant bodies, their practice is tailored to showcasing the trauma, history, and barriers these people face. Reflecting on the lack of space and agency they possess, they present queer and immigrant bodies in environments where they can thrive and be safe. The spaces the figures inhabit are colorful, gentle, soft, and safe. The use of glitter, paper mache, and yarn are important in their work because of their cultural and personal value. The work of Moises Salazar is meant to represent the trauma, history, and current state that undocumented immigrants and queer folks face. It is by examining the intersections of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, queerness, and the United States history that Moises Salazar addresses the reality of the barriers that immigrants and queer individuals face with the intention to begin to dismantle the myths and stereotypes used to criminalize and dehumanize them. Moises Salazar has presented their work at Mana Contemporary Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Center, Sullivan Galleries, Hair + Nails, Salon ACME and NADA Fair 2020.  They have been a recipient of the Luminarts Visual Art Fellowship, ArtAxis Haystack Fellowship and the NCECA Multicultural Fellowship. https://www.moisessalazar.com/