Faculty & Staff
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Our Faculty & Staff

 

The below reflects Usdan's year-round staff, as well as the faculty and staff working in Summer 2024.

Abigail Hesselton

Lead Teacher, Recreational Camp

Seasonal Faculty

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Alexandra Gaudioso

Lead Teacher, Art

Seasonal Faculty

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Alice Clancy

Manager of Events & Guest Services

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Alicia Pilgrim

Lead Teacher, Music

Seasonal Faculty

Music Notes Icon for USDAN Summer Music Camp

Amalia Drewes

Lead Teacher, Art

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Amie Laino-Vine

Lead Teacher, Art

Seasonal Faculty

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Benjamin Noah Packard

Lead Teacher, Art

Seasonal Faculty

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Berkeley Rousseau

Lead Teacher, Theater

Seasonal Faculty

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Brian Karen

Lead Teacher, Chess

Seasonal Faculty

Chess

Carl J Ferrara

Lead Teacher, Theater

Seasonal Faculty

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Carolyn Popadin

Lead Teacher, Theater

Seasonal Faculty

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Caryn Ronis

Lead Teacher, Art, Metalsmithing

Seasonal Faculty

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Cheryl Dobres-Fisk

Lead Teacher, Recreational Camp

Seasonal Faculty

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Cheryl Frey

Lead Teacher, Art

Seasonal Faculty

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Chris Vivas

Lead Teacher, Art, Sculpture

Seasonal Faculty

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Cindy Rosin

Lead Teacher, Nature, Ecology & Design

Seasonal Faculty

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Cory Benson

Manager of Buildings & Grounds

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Courtney Kassinger

Associate Director of Student Affairs

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Cristalina DeNicola

Lead Teacher, Art

Seasonal Faculty

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Daemond Arrindell

Lead Teacher, Creative Writing

Seasonal Faculty

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Dan Friedman

Lead Teacher, Recreational Camp, Archery

Seasonal Faculty

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Dan Sussman

Lead Teacher, Theater, Scene Shop

Seasonal Faculty

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David Lake

Chair, Recreation

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

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David Schecher

Lead Teacher, Music, Senior Bands, Conductor

Seasonal Faculty

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Deborah Lee Walker

Lead Teacher, Theater

Seasonal Faculty

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Dennis Creighton

Lead Teacher, Music

Seasonal Faculty

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Douglas Shankman

Lead Teacher, Dance

Seasonal Faculty

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Eliza Ostrofsky

Lead Teacher, Discovery

Seasonal Faculty

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Elizabeth (Eli) Rus

Lead Teacher, Art

Seasonal Faculty

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Emily Annesley

Enrollment Coordinator

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Eric Fox

Lead Teacher, Art

Seasonal Faculty

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Freyja Goldstein

Lead Teacher, Theater

Seasonal Faculty

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Garrett Weinstein

Lead Teacher, Art

Seasonal Faculty

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Gene Rossi

Lead Teacher, Theater, Tech

Seasonal Faculty

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Gerry Saulter

Lead Teacher, Music, Guitar

Seasonal Faculty

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Jacklyn Breitfeller

Lead Teacher, Art

Seasonal Faculty

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Jacqueline Selesky

Lead Teacher, Dance

Seasonal Faculty

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James Crichton

Lead Teacher, Theater (The Actor Sings, Children's Theater)

Seasonal Faculty

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Javan Howard

Director of Education

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Jeanine Marie Nagao

Lead Teacher, Music

Seasonal Faculty

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Jeffrey Hoffman

Lead Teacher, Theater (Musical Director/Accompanist)

Seasonal Faculty

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Jenna Caretsky

Lead Teacher, Theater

Seasonal Faculty

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Jessica Liss Feuer

Director of Development

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Jim Incorvaia

Department Chair, Theater

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

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Jodi Abrams

Lead Teacher, Art

Seasonal Faculty

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Jodie Embleton

Department Chair, Art

Year-Round Faculty & Staff, Camp Faculty & Staff

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Johan Van den Berghe

Controller

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Johanna Taylor

Lead Teacher, Dance (Broadway Jazz/Musical Theater)

Seasonal Faculty

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John T Harris

Lead Teacher, Discovery Art

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Jordan Hue

Lead Teacher, Theater

Seasonal Faculty

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Julio Garcia

Senior Groundskeeper

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Justin Mark

Lead Teacher, Music

Seasonal Faculty

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Justin Shah

Lead Teacher, Discovery

Seasonal Faculty

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Kageki Nagao

Lead Teacher, Music (Instrumental Ensemble)

Seasonal Faculty

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Kalliope Mamais Stathopoulos

Lead Teacher, Music

Seasonal Faculty

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Kelly Milone

Lead Teacher, Dance

Seasonal Faculty

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Kenneth Gilbert

Lead Teacher, Theater, Tech

Seasonal Faculty

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Krista Biedenbach

Lead Teacher, Art (Painting & Drawing)

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Kyra Leeds

Community Relations Coordinator

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Lauren Bobrow

Lead Teacher, Dance

Seasonal Faculty

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Lauren Brandt Schloss

Executive Director

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Lauren Kinane

Manager of Special Projects

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Lucas Sheridan

Lead Teacher, Art

Seasonal Faculty

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Marie Danvers Gallagher

Lead Teacher, Theater

Seasonal Faculty

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Matthew Pellegrino

Lead Teacher, Music

Seasonal Faculty

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Mel Jackson

Lead Teacher, Art (Comic Art)

Seasonal Faculty

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Michael Schwendemann

Lead Teacher, Theater

Seasonal Faculty

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Michelle LaPorte

Lead Teacher, Music (Instrumental Ensemble)

Seasonal Faculty

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Miracle Rose Daley Bennett

Lead Teacher, Art

Seasonal Faculty

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Pamela Tirrito

Lead Teacher, Dance

Seasonal Faculty

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Patrick Armann

Lead Teacher, Music (Instrumental Ensemble)

Seasonal Faculty

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Robert Gallagher

Lead Teacher, Theater

Seasonal Faculty

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Sadie Friedman

Discovery, Department Chair

Year-Round Faculty & Staff, Camp Faculty & Staff

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Sam Dillon

Lead Teacher, Music (Jazz Ensemble)

Seasonal Faculty

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Sara Miyamoto

Lead Teacher, Theater

Seasonal Faculty

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Shannon Martin

Lead Teacher, Art

Seasonal Faculty

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Stephanie Abrams

Senior Director of Student Affairs

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Stephanie Martinez

Lead Teacher, Theater

Seasonal Faculty

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Susan Lehr

Lead Teacher, Music (Instrumental Ensemble)

Seasonal Faculty

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Tatiana Birenbaum

Lead Teacher, Discovery

Seasonal Faculty

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Theresa Ruggles

Lead Teacher, Dance

Seasonal Faculty

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Victoria Ellerbe

Chief Operating Officer

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Victoria Garbarino

Lead Teacher, Theater (Musical Theater)

Seasonal Faculty

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Warren Bloom

Lead Teacher, Theater (Musical Theater Performance)

Seasonal Faculty

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William Charles Brown

Lead Teacher, Music

Seasonal Faculty

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Javan Howard

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Director of Education

Administration

Headshot Javan Howard.

Javan joined Usdan’s full time staff in 2017. Year round hip hop and poetry are his modes of survival and inspiration. A Bronx born creative that hails from the same high school as James Baldwin, he spreads love one word at a time. He truly believes that the lived experience is the ultimate teaching tool and uses poetry as a social forum to foster discourse about love, culture, and identity. He was named a 2022 Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellow. He also suffers from severe milk chocolate withdrawals and has been diagnosed with a case of the New York Knicks.

Jessica Liss Feuer

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Director of Development

Administration

Jessica Liss Feuer joined Usdan’s full time staff in June 2023. She has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector with a focus on fundraising, philanthropic partnerships, and program development. Prior to Usdan, she served as the Associate Director of Advancement and Philanthropy at the MLB Players Trust, the charitable arm of the Major League Baseball Players Association. As a child, Jessica spent two summers at Usdan, majoring in Musical Theater and minoring in Dance. She loves being back as a staff member and seeing the next generation of young artists experience the magic of Usdan.

Stephanie Abrams

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Senior Director of Student Affairs

Administration

Stephanie Abrams joined Usdan in Fall of 2023 as Senior Director of Student Affairs. Since she was a child going to camp at the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds next to Usdan, Stephanie has wanted to be a camp director. She comes to Usdan having spent the past eight years working at the Friedberg JCC in Oceanside, NY where she was most recently the Senior Program Officer of Camping & Youth Services. Her professional camp career began in 2019 as the Director of Camp Friedberg and co-founder of Camp Ga’avah (an LGBTQ day camp) in 2018. Stephanie attended SUNY Buffalo and received a BS in Marketing, and a Master's in Non-Profit Management from CUNY Baruch in 2005. She passed her love of musical theater to her oldest daughter, a current Usdan student and is so excited they get to experience Usdan together! During the summer when not at camp you can find Stephanie on the beach!

Victoria Ellerbe

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Chief Operating Officer

Administration

Victoria Ellerbe Headshot

Victoria joined Usdan in 2022 and has more than 10 years experience working in nonprofit organizations in HR, Finance, and Administration. She earned a bachelor's degree in Accounting from St John's University and since then has worked with NYC organizations such as Seeds of Peace, Harlem's World Famous Apollo Theater, and the Children's Museum of Manhattan. She currently resides in Brooklyn with her partner and maintains a great appreciation of arts and culture, as an avid cellist and a regular patron of live performances, art houses, and museums. 

 

Cory Benson

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Manager of Buildings & Grounds

Administration

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Lauren Brandt Schloss

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Executive Director

Administration

Lauren headshot

Lauren Brandt Schloss joined Usdan in 2015. With her appointment, she became Usdan’s third leader in a half century and the first woman to hold the position. Bringing 20+ years experience in arts education, at the Queens Museum, MoMA, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Lauren is committed to ensuring that Usdan is at the forefront of educational and artistic practices. 

Courtney Kassinger

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Associate Director of Student Affairs

Administration

Headshot of Courtney Kassinger

Courtney Kassinger has spent her summers at Usdan since 2002 when she first attended as a student. On staff, she has served as a Discovery counselor, a member of the administration/transportation staff, Transportation Manager, and is now the Associate Director of Student Affairs. Courtney holds a B.M. in Music Education from SUNY Fredonia and a M.S. in Music Education from Queens College along with an Advanced Certificate in TESOL from Touro College.  Courtney teaches elementary band in the Harborfields Central School District in the very elementary school she herself attended and is a member of both SCMEA and NAfME.  She looks back fondly on her many summers at Usdan as a student that fostered her love for music and led her to pursue a career in music education.  Courtney is eternally grateful for her Usdan family and the many lifelong friendships that have been created through her time spent at Usdan. 

Julio Garcia

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Senior Groundskeeper

Administration

Headshot Julio

 

 

Lauren Kinane

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Manager of Special Projects

Administration

Headshot Lauren Kinane

Dr. Lauren Kinane is a clarinetist, educator, and currently serves as the Manager of Special Projects at Usdan. Prior to becoming the Manager of Special Projects, Lauren served as the Enrollment Coordinator and Student Supervision Coordinator, and she spent four summers as a camper at Usdan. Her summers at Usdan inspired her to pursue her passion for clarinet further. Throughout the year Lauren can be heard performing with the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra and the Atlantic Wind Symphony. She can also be heard on the Massachusetts Chamber Players' album Frank Martin: Music for Winds. Lauren received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Stony Brook University, her Master of Music from the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, and her Bachelor of Music from SUNY Fredonia. 

Alice Clancy

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Manager of Events & Guest Services

Administration

Headshot of Alice Clancy.

Alice first joined Usdan in 2019 as the Festival and Gala Stage Manager. As a child, Alice was a serious saxophone player, and jumped from the pit to the wings in the early years of high school. She continued her study of theater at SUNY Fredonia, graduating with a degree in scenic design. Her 30+ year career as a stage, production, & event manager has taken her to Santa Fe, Utah, a million hole-in-the-wall theaters in Manhattan, NYU/Tisch School of the Arts, The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, and Harlem's World Famous Apollo Theater. There have been two throughlines in her career & life that come together so beautifully at Usdan: supporting artists and playing outside. It is a great joy to be here. 

Kyra Leeds

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Community Relations Coordinator

Administration

Headshot Kyra Leeds

Kyra Leeds is an actor and arts administrator from Queens, NY. Kyra was a student at Usdan for ten glorious summers, a Discovery Counselor for three summers, and has worked in Usdan’s administrative offices for the past five years. Kyra has also done some development and fundraising work for DCM, Inc. and, most recently, for the Off-Broadway MCC Theater in NYC. As an actor Kyra has been a part of Royal Caribbean’s CATS (Jennyanydots), Argyle Theatre’s FULL MONTY (Vicki), Hangar Theatre’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Christmas Past), and the REV Theatre Company’s PARADE (Ensemble/Dance Captain).  Kyra holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Ithaca College. 

 

Johan Van den Berghe

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Controller

Administration

Headshot Johan

Johan joined the Usdan family in 2022. He brought with him over 15 years of experience working and volunteering in nonprofit organizations. His main responsibilities have revolved around bookkeeping, finance and strategic development. He graduated from Baruch College in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Finance. Soon after, he fell in love with the nonprofit world and has not looked back since. He then attended NYU for a course in accounting for nonprofits and followed it with a medical coding and billing certificate from Hunter College in 2016. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from Columbia University. He resides in Chelsea, MA with his partner, two cats and a ball python. He has great appreciation for music, especially live concerts.

Emily Annesley

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Enrollment Coordinator

Administration

Emily portrait

Emily (they/she) is an arts administrator and flute instructor based in Brooklyn, NY. Emily first joined Usdan’s seasonal staff in 2021, supporting the Marketing, Enrollment, and Transportation departments. They joined Usdan’s Education department in January of 2023 as Education Coordinator, and rejoined the Enrollment department as the Enrollment Coordinator in May of the same year. Emily brings with them eclectic administrative experience in from a variety of roles, including a summer as Chamber Coordinator for the Spoleto Festival, USA. Emily holds a BA and MA in Flute Performance from SUNY Fredonia and SUNY Purchase respectively, and in addition to their work at Usdan, teaches private flute lessons to flute lovers of all ages and skill levels. When not teaching, working, or fluting, Emily can be found knitting, listening to e-books, or learning how to play a new instrument.  

 

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Miracle Rose Daley Bennett

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art

Art

Miracle Rose Daley Bennett

Hi! My name is Miracle Daley Bennett. This is my third year working at USDAN and my second as a lead teacher. During the school year i teach full time at a charter school as the Upper elementary art teacher for grades 3rd-5th. I started off as a fashion and sewing TA at USDAN and have since been able to be a lead painting and drawing teacher, and now i am a second lead for fashion and sewing this summer. I currently hold a BFA (bachelor in fine arts) & i am now furthering my education and pursuing my masters in art education. I also do commissioned work in my free time and create logos and design sneakers.

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Lucas Sheridan

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art

Art

Lucas Sheridan

Lucas Sheridan is an artist and educator who has been an enthusiastic teacher of the visual arts for over 18 years in Astoria, Queens . He enjoys helping students of all ages develop their skills and understandings of the world through projects in art and design. He fell in love with art and the outdoors as a child and is excited to spend his summer as part of the USDAN Community.

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Shannon Martin

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art

Art

Shannon Martin

This is Shannon’s first year at USDAN. She holds an AAS in Apparel Design from Nassau Community College, and a BA (Hons) in Fashion Design Technology from University of the Arts London. Shannon’s body of work can be found wrapped around the human body: often of brides whose gowns she designed and created, or of embroidery designs hand-stitched onto bags, as well as the myriad of alterations she’s done to enhance the look of clothing on the bodies of her clients. Off-season, she’s found helping teachers and high schoolers in a local high school’s special education department. One fun fact is that, despite years in London, the only convincing phrase she can say in a British accent is “What do you want me to say?”

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Garrett Weinstein

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art

Art

Garrett Weinstein

I've been with USDAN since 2019. I love all things comics and have a BFA in Cartooning from SVA. When I'm not teaching Art Classes or working for the Brentwood District as a teachers aide, you can find me at my drawing desk cooking up something fun and colorful! I love comics history, so if you see me name a character and see if I can tell you who drew them! I probably can!

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John T Harris

Camp Faculty & Staff

Lead Teacher, Discovery Art

Art

John T Harris

J.T. Harris started his Usdan career in 2018 as an assistant ceramics teacher. In 2019, he was promoted to a lead teacher position as the Discovery Program’s art teacher. He is now returning for his fourth summer at Usdan as the Discovery Art lead teacher. Outside of Usdan, J.T. is a NYS Certified Teacher in art, general education, and special education. He is currently working as an elementary art teacher in the Central Islip School District on Long Island, where he has been for the last three years. J.T. is also a frequently commissioned illustrator based on the south shore of Long Island.

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Krista Biedenbach

Camp Faculty & Staff

Lead Teacher, Art (Painting & Drawing)

Art

Krista Biedenbach Headshot

This will be Krista's seventh year with Usdan, first serving as an assistant in the Art department in 2012, then returning as a lead teacher in 2016. Krista's current work involves large scale, mixed media paintings of abstracted, figurative imagery. In addition to spending summers at USDAN and creating work in her personal studio, Krista is currently a high school art teacher. Krista holds a MA in Art and Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and BA Degrees in Art History and Studio Art from Stony Brook University. Along with teaching, Krista is currently pursuing an Ed.D. degree in Art and Art Education back at Teachers College. Besides everything art, Krista enjoys relaxing with her two small dogs, Patrick and Lily.

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Alexandra Gaudioso

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art

Art

Alexandra Gaudioso

Alexandra Gaudioso joins the USDAN community as a first year Painting and Drawing teacher! With a B.A. in Art from the University of Rhode Island, on her spare time she is completing her Masters in Art Education (prek-12) at CUNY Queens College and working as a high school substitute on Long Island. Her personal practice includes a range of mediums, with a strength in acrylic painting and oil pastels. One fun fact is that I am a local artist! I love collaborating, creating custom pieces, and showcasing my artwork around L.I.!

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Caryn Ronis

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art, Metalsmithing

Art

Caryn Ronis headshot

Caryn is returning for her third year as a lead teacher in Jewelry Design and Metalsmithing. She is an assistant teacher at an Early Childhood Center during the year and fun fact: she has appeared in People Magazine.

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Amalia Drewes

Lead Teacher, Art

Art

Amalia Drewes

Amalia Drewes is an artist, a lover of nature, and a spiritual explorer. Amalia graduated from Parsons School of Design, The New School with a BFA in Illustration. Amalia is a presenter and storyteller for Journeys Into American Indian Territory, a moving museum of Native American culture. She has started her own business called Visual Remedies, providing healing art for those who are grieving from loss. Additionally, Amalia operates as a freelance graphic designer, but one of her biggest joys was becoming a teacher of Reggio, a nature-based learning, at Spark Elementary. Amalia started online teaching at Usdan in 2020 as a Mixed Media Instructor and for the 3rd year in a row will attend as a Painting and Drawing teacher. Amalia had the pleasure of attending camp as a young girl, starting when she was in 3rd grade. Her summers at Usdan were some of the best memories of her life. She is very excited to be on the campgrounds again this year to share in the celebration of art, music, and nature coming together. 

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Cheryl Frey

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art

Art

Cheryl Frey

This is my third summer at Usdan and I am excited to share my love of painting and drawing. During the year I have the privilege of teaching Art to High School students in Brooklyn. I enjoy researching and trying out new artistic techniques.

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Amie Laino-Vine

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art

Art

Amie Laino-Vine

I am NYS certified k-12 in art education and 5-12 in literacy education. Formerly a NYC high school teacher in the South Bronx, where I taught ceramics and studio art; now a substitute teacher in a district close to my home. Ceramics is my primary art discipline of choice, though I am well versed in a wide range of art media and techniques. When I’m not teaching out in the world, you can often find me in my home ceramics studio, where I create work and teach private lessons and small classes to students of all ages. I also love gardening, taking care of my houseplants, surfing, riding my bike, and reading. Last summer, I joined Caryn in teaching students metal smithing and mixed media jewelry arts at USDAN and I’m looking forward to another great summer!

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Cristalina DeNicola

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art

Art

Cristina DeNicola Headshot

Christina started teaching in the Usdan Art Department in 2012. She recieved her BFA from Pratt Institute and MSED from Queens College. Christina's personal art form is mix media sculptures and ceramics. During the school year, Christina teaches high school Studio Art for BUFSD and Farmingdale Smart Scholars Intro to Graphic Design. 

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Benjamin Noah Packard

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art

Art

Benjamin Noah Packard

Noah Packard is a long Island based videographer and teaching artist & musician. He loves to tell stories and help others tell their stories with art. He began working at Usdan in 2021 as lead a comic art teacher helping students improve as artists and writers in a fun educational environment. Growing up Noah cultivated his love of the arts as teen at Usdan, taking animation and classical guitar. He loves having the opportunity to be part of that learning process for the new campers. During the year he shoots and edits commercials and music videos for local artists and teaches art, and music classes for all ages at libraries all over long Island.

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Elizabeth (Eli) Rus

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art

Art

Eli Russ

I first began at Usdan as an Art Assistant teacher in 2013 and have worked every year since. Then, in 2021, I became a Lead Teacher. I attended Usdan for 7 years as a student. As a kid, I moved homes every year and Usdan was the one place that really felt like home to me.

My personal art form is primarily digital illustrations. 

I hold a B.A in Education from SUNY Geneseo.

 

 

 

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Jacklyn Breitfeller

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art

Art

Jacklyn Breitfeller Headshot

Jacklyn started at USDAN in 2011 and this will be her 11th summer. Her personal art form is Mixed Media arts. She does have a passion for painting, photography, ceramics, drawing, and jewelry making. During the rest of the year, she is an art teacher here on Long Island. She has a BFA in Studio Art, a MFA, and a MS in Art Education. A fun fact about Jacklyn is that she have a cat named Jasper, who acts like a dog.

 

 

 

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Jodie Embleton

Year-Round Faculty & Staff, Camp Faculty & Staff

Department Chair, Art

Art

Headshot Jodie Embleton.

Jodie joined us at Usdan in 2008. Her role has evolved from assistant, to teacher, to art chair representing her dedication to Arts Education and her love of Usdan.  She holds a BFA in Painting and Drawing from SUNY Purchase College and a MSEd in Art Education from CUNY Queens College.  Jodie’s personal work consists of paintings depicting abstract architectural designs with sculptural elements. On the off-season, Jodie is a visual arts teacher in a public school on Long Island. Her favorite experiences at Usdan include working with teachers and children as they reconnect with nature and funnel their creative energy into building a better community. A fun fact about Jodie is that she used to foster hurt wild animals. 

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Mel Jackson

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art (Comic Art)

Art

Mel Jackson

Joining the Usdan community in the summer of 2014, this year marks my 10th year of teaching and 13th year as a proud returning alumni, having first stepped into this vibrant world between 2001 and 2003. My personal art form and practice delve into the dynamic and expressive realm of comic art, where stories and characters come to life through intricate visuals and narratives.

Outside of Usdan's enriching environment, I dedicate my time as a Special Education Teacher in the Brentwood School District, where I strive to make a difference in the lives of my students. My passion for education extends into my doctoral research at St. John's University, where I am exploring the impact of gamification, social emotional learning, and literacy scores through various quantitative studies.

In addition to my educational pursuits, I am an avid Abbott World Majors Marathon runner, having completed marathons in cities around the globe, including Tel Aviv, London, Chicago, and New York. This unique journey not only fuels my love for running but also connects me with diverse cultures and communities.

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Eric Fox

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art

Art

Eric Fox

Eric Fox is a local Long Beach artist who takes inspiration from the ocean. He has always found himself inspired by nature and objects found in nature. He mainly creates works of art with acrylic paint, watercolors and ink that reflect ocean and sea life. Some of his works are created on found wood and or driftwood. Eric uses the comic book style of inking to help enhance his works of art and is intrigued by the use of dark inked lines juxtaposed with his use of color. When he is not creating artworks Eric is a visual arts teacher in the diverse district of Long Beach. He has been an art educator for over 25 years and currently teaches in the high school. Some of the classes that he teaches are the International Baccalaureate visual arts program along with Drawing and Painting classes.

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Jodi Abrams

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art

Art

Jodi Abrams

Jodi is excited to return to Usdan for her second summer as the Discovery Music Teacher. She spent five unforgettable summers of her adolescence majoring in theater, and she can attest that Usdan is still as magical as she remembers! Jodi earned a B.M. in Music Education from NYU Steinhardt and a M.Ed. in Kodály Music Education from the American Kodály Institute at Loyola University Maryland. During the school year, Jodi is the General Music Teacher and Choral Director at West End Elementary School in Lynbrook. She previously taught music and chorus at P.S. 20 in Flushing, Queens.

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Chris Vivas

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Art, Sculpture

Art

Chris Vivas

Chris Vivas joined Usdan’s Art Department in 2010. Lead Art Teacher, he brings his interest in art, culture, travel, literature, and ceramics to his teaching philosophies. His artwork, influenced by existential writers such as Nietzsche, Sartre, and Camus, explores the duality of strength and fragility found within human existence. Exploring how strength synthesizes to weakness and vice versa has led him to working in ceramic during his initial studies at Stony Brook University followed by receiving his MFA from SUNY New Paltz. Art residencies have also been an important aspect of his artistic development and growth as an educator. Residencies include; Shigaraki Ceramic Culture Park in Shigaraki, Japan, Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York, NY, AIR Vallauris in Vallauris, France, Babayan Culture House, Ibrahimpaşa, Cappadocia, Turkey. He currently teaches at Suffolk County Community College and St. Joseph’s College along with various workshops and lectures throughout Long Island.

Chess

Brian Karen

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Chess

Chess

Headshot Brian

Brian Karen is ranked within the top 3% of tournament chess players by the United States Chess Federation (USCF) and Federation Internationale Des Échecs (FIDE). Brian has been awarded the FIDE Candidate Master Title. Brian has been the co-director of the acclaimed USDAN Chess program since 1997. He founded and conducts chess programs in Classes across Long Island. Brian was elected by chess instructors from across the United States to the United States Chess Federation Scholastic Council. This is a five person body that manages National Scholastic events and regulations involving thousands of children across the United States. Brian was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Internet’s most established chess club (www.chessclub.com) and was hired by IBM to give web commentary during the famous Deeper Blue – Kasparov match. Brian received a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University and an undergraduate degree from Syracuse University.

 

 

 

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Daemond Arrindell

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Creative Writing

Creative Writing

Daemond Arrindell

Daemond Arrindell is a multi-genre writer, performer and educator. He has taught at Seattle University, for TAT Lab, the Washington State Teaching Artist Training Lab, and Freehold Theatre, leading poetry & theatre residencies at Washington State’s Monroe Correctional Complex. His work has appeared in City Arts, Specter, Crosscut, Poetry NorthWest, Seattle Review of Books and The Pitkin Review.

In 2019, he performed his one-man show, “Frozen Borders,” an exploration in imagery, poetry and emotion regarding the United States’ southern border. In 2022, Daemond earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. The rest of the year, he teaches poetry and theater throughout the New York area.

This is Daemond's first year at Usdan. In a previous life, many years ago, he was a lifeguard at Jones Beach.

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Lauren Bobrow

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Dance

Dance

Lauren Bobrow

Lauren is a New York-based actor, singer, and dancer thrilled to be returning to USDAN for her third summer since starting in 2022! National Tours: How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (Boo Who). Film: How To Make People Like You. Dance: Pacific Festival Ballet Company. Choreography: My True Love: A Perfect Musical Fairytale (Off-Broadway), Elsewhere (World Premiere). She graduated with her BFA in Musical Theatre from LIU Post in 2023. She is also proudly certified in stage combat through the SAFD. Lauren takes pride in creating joy-filled safe spaces for embracing passion and creating magic!

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Jacqueline Selesky

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Dance

Dance

Jacqueline Selesky Headshot

A proud native of Long Island, New York, Jacqueline was introduced to dance at the tender age of seven. She became well versed in all styles including but not limited to ballet, modern, jazz, latin, tap, and hip hop. She graduated from Montclair State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Education. Jacqueline has performed elite choreographed pieces by Bill T. Jones, Martha Graham, Jose Limon, David Parsons, Larry Keigwin, and Frederick Earl Mosley. She was the lead soloist in Martha Graham's Daughters of the Night, performed at The Joyce Theatre, NYC and she performed in the musical Prime Time in Keywest, FL. Jacqueline spent three seasons with Asha Dance Company, and is currently on her fifth season with Dance Key West, and was the lead actress in The Truth Urban Theatre Group’s production of Viva Africa in Long Island, NY. Jacqueline appeared on Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It Netflix series as well as a dancer on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, and Live with Kelly and Ryan. Some of her commercial credits include performing with Cardi B, Demi Lovato, Rita Ora, and G-Eazy. She walked in Brooklyn Fashion Week and performed in New York Fashion Week. Being represented by Bloc Agency,  has afforded her the opportunity to be casted in commercials such as Ultimate Ears Headphones and a Nutrafol Hair commercial. Jacqueline is grateful to be able to travel the world and share her expertise at dance competitions as an adjudicator. This is Jacqueline's fifth year teaching Hip Hop Dance at USDAN and is excited to have a fun-filled summer of dancing in the sun! 

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Pamela Tirrito

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Dance

Dance

Hi! This will be my third year teaching yoga at USDAN! I love both teaching and practicing yoga as often as I can! During the school year I am a literacy teacher for 1st and 2nd grade. I love watching my students grow into readers and writers. One fun fact about me is that I love being outdoors!

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Douglas Shankman

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Dance

Dance

Douglas Shankman

Doug Shankman has been teaching the art of dance and tap dancing since 2000 and is excited to return to USDAN. Currently, Doug teaches at Broadway Dance Center in New York City and many other performing arts schools, conservatories and colleges throughout the Tri-State area. Additionally, Doug is the Artistic Director for Contemporary Dance Arts and has several upcoming new and exciting projects in workshops and seeking "angels". As an award winning Choreographer and Director, Doug has reimagined, rediscovered and reinvented some of Contemporary musical theater's most epic and exciting shows including: West Side Story, Mary Poppins, Beauty and The Beast, Music Man, Hairspray, Kiss me Kate, Joseph, Camelot, The Full Monty, My Fair Lady, Singin' in the Rain, Legally Blonde, Big River, You're a good man Charlie Brown, Honky Tonk Angels, Peter Pan, My one and Only, On Your Toes and many original new plays and musicals that are currently being workshopped for contemporary audiences.

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Theresa Ruggles

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Dance

Dance

Theresa Ruggles

Theresa Ruggles is a Yoga Alliance Registered RYT 500 Yoga Teacher and Children’s Yoga Teacher who has been teaching yoga classes for 13 years. She completed her adult yoga teacher training in Refined Flow Yoga under the tutelage of Leslie Luft and Elyce Neuhauser at Absolute Yoga and Rosanne Ferraiuolo at Simplicity Yoga. Her children’s yoga, teen’s yoga, and trauma-informed yoga certifications are through Yoga Ed. She is also certified in restorative yoga through Muriel Pellizzi and mat Pilates through Balanced Body. Theresa started teaching yoga at USDAN in the summer of 2019. Outside of teaching yoga, Theresa is a public school orchestra teacher. Being a music teacher has positively informed her role as a yoga teacher and vice versa, as she’s seen the true value of mindfulness and self-care in both children and adults.

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Johanna Taylor

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Dance (Broadway Jazz/Musical Theater)

Dance

Johanna Taylor

Johanna is a performing and teaching artist. She taught at Usdan in 2021 and 2022 and is happy to return this summer. She holds a BFA in Dance from the University at Buffalo and completed her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training with Awakened Spirit Yoga. She enjoys helping her students discover joy, connection, and self-expression through yoga, dance, and theatre. During the year she teaches dance to children of all ages. Johanna is also a member of Actors’ Equity Association and is a Long Island native! Favorite performing credit: Broadway National Tour of A BRONX TALE.

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Kelly Milone

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Dance

Dance

Kelly Milone

Kelly (BFA Dance, Montclair State University) is thrilled to be joining USDAN for a third summer after joining in 2022. She teaches dance at studios across Queens and Long Island. She is Choreographer of the Long Island Cabaret Theatre and a dance competition judge for Dance Champs Elite. Favorite performance credits include a Bollywood tour, an entertainment contract in Greece, and a circus production at Six Flags Great Adventure. Her dog, a chow chow named Zucca Maria, looks like a lion.

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Justin Shah

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Discovery

Discovery

Justin Shah

I am happy to be a part of the Usdan Community as one of Discovery's Lead Teachers! I will be teaching Nature to the young ones. My first year at Usdan was 2017 and I've loved it ever since. Outside of Usdan, I am a K-5 Music Teacher in the Connetquot Central School District. I also coach our Middle School Baseball team.

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Sadie Friedman

Year-Round Faculty & Staff, Camp Faculty & Staff

Discovery, Department Chair

Discovery

Sadie Friedman headshot

Sadie started working at Usdan in 2008 as a Discovery Counselor and has loved the Discovery program ever since! She currently teachers Elementary School General Music in the Three Village School District. She also teaches Early Childhood family music classes. Her main instruments are voice and piano.

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Eliza Ostrofsky

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Discovery

Discovery

Eliza Ostrofsky

Hello there! I'm Eliza Ostrofsky, and I've been part of USDAN since 2019. Over the years, my favorite type of art has evolved continuously. While ceramics and sculpture have held a special place in my heart, lately, I've been immersing myself in painting, which presents an exciting new challenge for me.

In the past year, I've taken on various roles in education. During the first half of the year, I served as a substitute teacher in a high school. Transitioning into the second half of the year, I stepped into the shoes of a leave replacement for a high school art teacher, furthering my passion for arts education. Outside of the classroom, I'm pursuing my graduate studies at Adelphi University, focusing on special education.

A fun fact about me is my love for new adventures and challenges. Recently, I've been diving into the world of skiing! It's been an exciting endeavor, that I am excited to continue working on as the years go on.

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Tatiana Birenbaum

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Discovery

Discovery

Tatiana Birenbaum

Tatiana Birenbaum is thrilled to be returning to USDAN for another magical summer! This will be Taty's third season at USDAN! She is half Brazilian half Argentinian multidisciplinary artists graduated from the American Musical and Dramatics Academy. Besides being a teaching artists, she is a performer and the producer and singer of a monthly showcase series called "Let's Broadway". Most recently she was the choreographer for a production of the musical "Working" and the Israeli Folk Dance Festival that happend in NYC this past April. She has also performed with big names of the Brazilian music like Toquinho, Jair Rodrigues and Alceu Valenca. When not performing or teaching, you can find Taty trying new ice cream shops, doing Acro Pilates and enjoying picnics.

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Matthew Pellegrino

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Music

Music

Matthew Pellegrino

I’m Matt Pellegrino, the Lead Composition and Songwriting teacher at Usdan. I started Usdan in 2011 playing oboe in the band with Mr. Schecher as a Music Staff Intern, after which I continued to work at Usdan as a Band Assistant until 2017. I studied music composition first at SUNY Fredonia, and then at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore for both my Master’s and Doctorate. Throughout the year, I’m either teaching music or writing new music for bands, orchestras, and traditional Korean ensembles. These days much of my work is about Korean music, so I often get to travel to Korea for concerts, which is one of my favorite parts of my job as a composer. A fun fact about me is that I have 3 cats named Gnocchi, Meera, and Wally.

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Kageki Nagao

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Music (Instrumental Ensemble)

Music

Kageki Nagao

Dr. Kageki Nagao started working at Usdan as a double bass lead teacher and a chamber music coach in 2008. He has been a director of orchestras since 2014. During the school year, Kageki directs the string department of Long Island Lutheran Middle & High School.

Graduated from Juilliard School and Stony Brook University, Kageki is active as a soloist, orchestra and chamber musician. Kageki was chosen by Leonard Bernstein to serve as principal bass for the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra. Recently, Kageki appeared as a member of the Strauss Symphony of America, which played in venues such as the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia and David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center, NYC. As a conductor, Kageki lead the SCMEA Division III East Festival Orchestra in March 2018.

Kageki lives with his wife Jeanine (also a Usdan teacher) and a rabbit named Juliet.

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William Charles Brown

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Music

Music

William Charles Brown Headshot

This is William's first year teaching Brass at USDAN, though he has many fond memories being a former Usdanite! Although from Long Island, he regularly resides in London and enjoys a busy and varied career performing on trombone with orchestras, opera and ballet companies and also examines for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. He has degrees from the Manhattan School of Music (BMUS) and Royal College of Music(MMUS), and most often works with The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, Oxford & Brighton Philharmonics, Orpheus Sinfonia and the London Mozart Players amongst many others. Lately, Will has been obsessed with all things Italian this year, and when not working is often planning his next trip in Italy and learning the language.

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Dennis Creighton

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Music

Music

Dennis Creighton

Dennis Creighton (Sr. Vocal Ensemble)- Dennis has taught choral music at the high school level for the last 25 years. He is a frequent guest conductor and is very active in NYSSMA. He can often be found on local Long Island stages acting in musicals and plays.

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Michelle LaPorte

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Music (Instrumental Ensemble)

Music

Michelle LaPorte

Michelle LaPorte happily joined Usdan as the Flute Lead Teacher in 2019 – her love of nature, animals, and the arts, makes Usdan her perfect artistic home! She enjoys a global career as a performer, educator, and chamber music advocate. Michelle is a Miyazawa Flutes Performing Artist, Centaur Records Artist, and flutist of the international award-winning flute and guitar ensemble, Serenade Duo. She is passionate about sharing the beauty and diversity of flute and guitar music by composers from around the world.

In addition to maintaining an active private teaching studio, she is also an Assistant Adjunct Music Professor at Suffolk County Community College. Michelle earned a Master of Arts Degree in Music from Long Island University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Performance from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. www.serenadeduo.com

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Sam Dillon

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Music (Jazz Ensemble)

Music

Native New Yorker, saxophonist, recording artist, composer and educator Sam Dillon has established himself as one of the most in demand musicians of his generation. Sam’s prolific soloist and sideman work includes over 40 studio recordings, performances on a global level and international recognition as one of the defining tenor saxophone voices today.

Sam’s latest album, co-lead with Andrew Gould entitled “It Takes One To Know One”, was released on Cellar Live Records in 2022 and is streaming on all platforms. Sam’s most recent sideman recording’s include Mark Sherman’s “With Freedom” on Miles High Records (2023) and Chris Hajian’s “A Portrait in Melancholy” (2023). Sam’s previous leader albums include “Two Part Solution” with Frank Basile on Cellar Live in (2020); “Force Field” on PosiTone (2019) and “Out In The Open” on Cellar Live (2018). Please refer to Sam’s website for his full discography.

In addition to Sam’s work as a leader, his long history with big bands include extensive touring, recording and preforming with The Vanguard Orchestra, The Jimmy Heath Big Band, Mingus Big Band, Slide Hampton Octet, The 8BitBigBand, The Steven Feifke Big Band, The Birdland Big Big and several others.

In 2022 Sam was awarded a Grammy Certificate for his participation in The 8-Bit Big Band’s Meta Knight’s Revenge (From “Kirby Superstar”). In 2016 Sam was awarded an Artist Diploma from The Juilliard School granting him his third degree in music performance including a masters degree and bachelor’s degree from SUNY Purchase College in 2009. In 2013, Sam was selected as one of 13 semi-finalists in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition.

Sam is also the director of the jazz program at USDAN Summer Camp For The Arts where he has acted as both a teacher and administrator for the past 6 years.

Sam is an endorsing artist for Yamaha Saxophones and D’Addario Reeds.

For more information please visit www.samdillonmusic.com.

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Susan Lehr

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Music (Instrumental Ensemble)

Music

Sue Lehr Headshot

Sue Lehr joined Usdan as the cello instructor in 2000. Cello ensemble is her passion and she loves working with her Usdan students. Sue retired as the orchestra teacher at the Waldorf School of Garden City in 2009. She continues to freelance, teach in her private studio and perform and teach in school residencies with the Classical Strings Ensemble and Orchestra Long Island during the school year. Sue has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in performance from the New England Conservatory. She is an enthusiastic participant in the Covid Cello Project. Check it out on YouTube for some wonderful cello ensemble performances!

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Alicia Pilgrim

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Music

Music

Alicia Pilgrim

Alicia Pilgrim is a multi disciplinary artist from Washington, DC but is currently based in New York City. Some of Alicia’s selected credits are as follows: the Drama Desk nominated play CULLUD WATTAH at The Public where she was also nominated for an Antonyo & Audelco Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play, and can be seen as NAJJA in the second season RANDOM ACTS OF FLYNESS on HBO Max as well as the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning film A THOUSAND AND ONE.) Currently giving ourselves the permission to explore all of our creative impulses. In the last year, Alicia has been teaching herself how to dj & has been exploring sound curation. Selected credits include: co-sound design & dj for Ghetto Alchemy: LRSG at the Tank, Dream Machine @ the Lincoln Center) Fun fact: This is my first year @ USDAN!!!

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Gerry Saulter

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Music, Guitar

Music

Gerry Saulter

Gerry Saulter joined Usdan’s Music Department in 2020. He is a distinguished Alhambra Guitars and RC Strings Performing Artist, Centaur Recording Artist, and guitarist of the award-winning flute and guitar ensemble, Serenade Duo. As a performer, educator, and chamber music advocate, Gerry has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. In addition to maintaining an active private teaching studio, he is also an Applied Instructor of Classical Guitar at Suffolk County Community College. When not playing guitar, Gerry enjoys playing tennis, cooking, and spending time with his family and his dog! Gerry earned a Master of Music Degree from Five Towns College and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Performance from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. serenadeduo.com

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David Schecher

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Music, Senior Bands, Conductor

Music

My time at Usdan started in 1986.I have been a member of the music department and the dean of students. I am currently teaching trombone privately, and performing with the Long Island Brass Guild. All of my children attended and worked at Usdan.

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Patrick Armann

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Music (Instrumental Ensemble)

Music

Patrick Armann

Dr. Patrick Armann has been a member of the Usdan music faculty since 2003. He is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory and Stony Brook University, where he completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Percussion Performance. An active performer, Dr. Armann has worked as a percussionist with many performing ensembles and organizations on Long Island. Dr. Armann is an active educator year-round. Although his primary passion is all things percussive, his journey as a teacher has included working with bands, orchestras, chamber ensembles, and jazz bands. When not enjoying summers at Usdan, he teaches orchestra in the Sachem Central School District and serves as a co-chairperson of the SCMEA Day of Percussion.

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Jeanine Marie Nagao

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Music

Music

Jeanine Marie Nagao

Horn player Jeanine Nagao is returning for a second summer as lead teacher at Usdan. Over the past 15 years she served in the capacity of assistant or substitute in the horn department. She is so happy to be back at Usdan this summer to work with all the wonderful campers!

A graduate of both the Juilliard School (BM, MM) and Stony Brook University (BA, DMA), she brings many years of experience as an orchestral player (Filarmonica de Santiago, Korean Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Long Island), Broadway (Phantom of the Opera, Kiss of the Spiderwoman and Cats) and chamber player as well as many years as a soloist.

Jeanine also traveled as a touring musician with musical theater productions such as Phantom of the Opera (Hong Kong/Singapore/Honolulu as well as within the United States; and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Music of the Night). As a member of the Strauss Symphony of America, she appeared played in venues such as the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia and David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center, NYC.

Jeanine lives with her husband Kageki (Usdan orchestra director) and their rabbit Juliette.

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Justin Mark

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Music

Music

Justin Marks is a band director in the Long Beach Public School system and has worked with ensembles at every age level. He has brought his middle school and high school bands and jazz bands to NYSSMA Majors; receiving awards of gold and gold with distinction. Justin is a certified NYSSMA judge and has given lectures and taught workshops in woodwind performance throughout New York. He spends the Summer as the instructor of woodwinds at the USDAN Summer Camp for the Arts where he teaches groups lessons and coaches chamber music ensembles. As an in-demand private saxophone teacher, Justin has helped numerous students with their acceptances into prestigious colleges and universities for music, as well as into SCMEA All County and NYSSMA All-State ensembles. A versatile performer through multiple genres of music, he performs classically with the Long Island Wind Ensemble, and is in demand as a jazz and commercial saxophonist for weddings, production events, and various projects throughout the tri-state area. He holds a Master’s degree in saxophone performance from the Herberger Institute of the Arts at Arizona State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.

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Kalliope Mamais Stathopoulos

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Music

Music

Kalliope Mamais Stathopoulos

Kalliope Mamais earned her B.A. in Literature and Communications from Pace University, and her M.A. in English Education from New York University. She is bilingual in Greek and English, and has over twenty years experience teaching literature, composition, rhetoric, creative writing, gardening, and nature. She strives to foster curious, independent, open-minded learners who think critically, act ethically, and work collaboratively. She is committed to working with students through communication, imagination, and a creative, supportive and nurturing student-centered environment. Kalliope successfully encourages learners to use their skills through understanding their interests, and encouraging them to go where they thought they could not reach. Her passion for education and children, has led her to take multiple trainings in self-directed education, applying alternative methods of teaching and learning. Motivation, drive, and enthusiasm give her the ability to work as a passionate and quality educator, with the belief that the quality of caring will in turn inspire children to change the world.

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Cindy Rosin

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Nature, Ecology & Design

Nature & Sustainability

Cindy Rosin

Cindy is returning for her fourth year in the Nature department. Cindy is an artist and environmental activist based in Rockaway, Queens, where she lives on a houseboat made from converted shipping containers. She has a BFA and a Certificate in Art Therapy from School of Visual Arts. A painter and printmaker, Cindy is seven years into a daily drawing practice that has made her a firm believer in the power of making art every day. When she’s not teaching, Cindy spends portions of her year volunteering in the field for environmental organizations – from monitoring buffalo migrations to working on ocean-going conservation ships, Cindy believes that life is best lived outdoors.

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Abigail Hesselton

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Recreational Camp

Recreational Camp

Abigail Hesselton

Abby started working at Usdan in 2019. Abby is a music teacher in the Farmingdale school district, teaching elementary general music and third grade chorus. She is a vocalist who graduated from Hofstra University with her Bachelor's Degree in Music Education, and from Stony Brook University in 2023 with her Master's Degree in Liberal Studies. During the school year, she teaches both in school and private music lessons, but loves to spend her summer teaching archery, something she has loved since her own experiences in summer camp as a camper!

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David Lake

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Chair, Recreation

Recreational Camp

Dave began teaching at Usdan in 2005 as the Tennis Instructor and is pleased to begin a new role in 2022 as the Chair of Recreation. During the school year Dave is a 5th Grade Teacher in the East Islip School District. Fun fact: Dave juggled a soccer ball 12,600 times when he was 17.

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Dan Friedman

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Recreational Camp, Archery

Recreational Camp

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Cheryl Dobres-Fisk

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Recreational Camp

Recreational Camp

Cheryl Dobres-Fisk

This is my 5th summer at USDAN! I have worked as an assistant in LEGO design, Fashion, and the Main Range of Archery. In 2022 I was referred to lead Archery for our Recreational Campers. During the year I am an elementary school teacher, with my certification in Elementary and Special Education. Archery is a fun activity to participate in during the summer! One fun fact about me is that I can say the alphabet backwards from any letter!

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Sara Miyamoto

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater

Theater

Sara Miyamoto

Sara Miyamoto (she/they) is so excited to be returning to USDAN for her second summer! Her personal art form is musical theatre but she also loves costuming and is so excited to be costuming these kiddos this summer! They are a recent grad of LIU Post, getting her BFA in Musical Theatre, and is looking forward to moving to the city and starting her career.

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Gene Rossi

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater, Tech

Theater

Gene Rossi

Gene Rossi started at USDAN as an assistant in 1999-Painting/2000/sculpture 2001 ceramics. Personal art form: metal and wood sculpture. Joined Theater department 2008. Full time middle school art teacher/photography. Avid surfer/distance paddleboarder.

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James Crichton

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater (The Actor Sings, Children's Theater)

Theater

James Crichton

James Crichton is an actor, singer, pianist, & educator. As an actor he most recently appeared in the New York premiere of Unknown Soldier at Playwrights Horizons. Other credits include Jasper in Deadland with Prospect Theater Company, the national tour of Peter and the Starcatcher, Botticelli in the Fire at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, The Taming of the Shrew at Shakespeare Theatre Company, The Last Ship at Pioneer Theatre Company, and Sweeney Todd at The Rev Theater Company. Additionally, he is the host and creator of the podcast Actors: On Process, serves as an adjunct (associate professor) for the musical theatre program at LIU Post, he holds a BFA in Acting from Hofstra University, and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association. As both a student and faculty member, this will be his 19th summer at Usdan. His favorite musical is Fiddler on the Roof and his favorite color is purple.

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Jeffrey Hoffman

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater (Musical Director/Accompanist)

Theater

Jeffrey Hoffman

I have been teaching in the Usdan theater department since 2011. I'm a professional musician, a composer, conductor, and keyboardist. I spend most of my year conducting choirs and playing pipe organs. I am an alumnus of Manhattan School of Music, where I studied classical composition. I'm also an alumnus of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, where I worked with Skip Kennon, Richard Engel, and Maury Yeston. I love to garden, hike, and cook gourmet meals.

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Marie Danvers Gallagher

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater

Theater

Marie Danvers Gallagher Headshot

 

Marie is best known for her star turn as Christine in the Broadway and National Touring production of The Phantom of the Opera, having worked with director Hal Prince. She has performed Christine in the Yeston/Kopit Phantom at Paper Mill Playhouse and appeared in the National and International Tour of The Fantasticks with Robert Goulet. She acted Off-Broadway with the Manhattan Theater Club and on Television on As The World Turns. Across the country she has played leading roles in A Chorus Line, Company, The Mikado, Brigadoon, Lend Me a Tenor, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Nunsense, Guys and Dolls and Cyrano de Bergerac to name a few. She holds an AAS in Acting, a BFA in Dance and an MFA in Dramaturgy from Stony Brook University. As a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association for over 30 years, she has performed with the Broadway by the Year Series at Town Hall, Broadway Pops International, and The City Center Encores in Manhattan. Marie is happy to be returning to USDAN this summer. During the school year she has been teaching at Momentum School of Music in West Islip, directing musicals at Suffolk County Community College and teaching private voice.
 

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Robert Gallagher

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater

Theater

Robert Gallager Headshot

Rob Gallagher started at Usdan in 2015 as a lead teacher in the theater department. He had a 20 year career as a professional actor and singer in New York City, starring on Broadway as Javert in Les Miserables, and appearing as Emile DeBecque in the Tony Award winning revival of Roger’s and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. Off-Broadway credits include Fiorello! with City Center Encores!, Forbidden Broadway and Reefer Madness (with Kristen Bell and choreographed by Paula Abdul). He has been teaching singing technique for 15 years, both privately and at the university level. He’s been a member of the voice faculty at LIU Post since 2014, teaching singing lessons to their musical theater majors. Other educational experience includes Adjunct Professor of Applied Music at Five Towns College in Dix Hills NY, Adjunct Professor for beginning acting at Stonybrook University and Suffolk County Community College.

 

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Jordan Hue

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater

Theater

Jordan Hue Headshot

Jordan Hue started as a lead teacher at USDAN in the summer of 2017. He is writer, actor, director, and teacher specializing in youth theatre and educational programs. While not at USDAN, Jordan is the theatre arts teacher at Long Beach High School and the artistic director of the Carriage House Players in Centerport, NY. He remains active and involved in local theatre projects across the island. Fun fact: Jordan also works as a designer for Top Dog Games, a tabletop gaming company. Education: Hofstra University (BA, MS Ed.), Adelphi University (MS).

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Warren Bloom

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater (Musical Theater Performance)

Theater

Warren Bloom

Warren joined the Usdan Theater faculty in 1998 and is returning for his 19th summer teaching as a musical director and piano accompanist. He has also served as co-director of Last Day Cabaret, sound designer and pit orchestra trombonist & keyboardist. He was musical director and bass & beatboxer for the professional vocal group Hyannis Sound, and is an alum of the BMI Musical Theater Workshop. Warren has been the general music teacher at P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights since 2011, contributes to arts education research projects for the NYC DOE, and has been a judge for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (and its related high-school and adult competitions) since 2002. B.A. majoring in musicology from Brandeis Univ; M.M. in media scoring & production from Univ. of Miami’s Frost School of Music; M.A. in music education from Hunter College. Member, NAfME and NYSSMA.

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Jenna Caretsky

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater

Theater

Jenna Caretsky

Hi, my name is Jenna Caretsky and I am super excited to be directing at Usdan this summer! I went to Five Towns College for my BFA in Theater Arts. During college, I spent two summers working in the costume shop here at Usdan. I just graduated from Hofstra University with a dual MSEd in Early Childhood and Childhood Education. In 2017, I participated in the Disney College Program. I can’t wait to start making art with the Usdan community!

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Berkeley Rousseau

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater

Theater

Berkeley Rousseau

This will be my second year at Usdan as a lead teacher in the theatre department. I am a choral musician and theatre director. When I'm not at Usdan, I am a music and theatre teacher in William Floyd School District. I currently hold my bachelors and masters in music, as well as teaching credentials in music and theatre. A fun fact about me is that I got my students on Good Morning America this past school year!

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Carl J Ferrara

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater

Theater

Carl J Ferrara

Carl J Ferrara has been a music educator for over 30 years. He is a member of NYSSMA, SCMEA, and NAfME. Currently, he is teaching in the Amityville School District. He has been Music Director for theatrical productions and cabarets across Long Island and NYC, and is a member of the local rock band Rock Island Sound. Mr. Ferrara has been conductor of the Silver Chords Chorus, a community chorus based in Smithtown, since 2014. He is also the Music Director for Setauket United Methodist Church; and served as Associate Music Director for L.I. Voices. A songwriter and composer in his own right, he has written two musicals as well as several songs and choral works, some of which have been premiered by the Silver Chords. His newest is a collection of Rounds, Canons and Partner Songs.

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Carolyn Popadin

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater

Theater

Carolyn is a NY based teaching artist, director and performer. She brings her love of theater to students throughout Long Island and Brooklyn directing school musicals and incorporating theater arts into class curriculums during the school year. She motivates her students to reach their fullest potential by making brave and interesting theatrical choices and, most important, to believe in themselves. Carolyn began at Usdan in 1997 and returned after some gap years to make summer 2024 her 18th year! She has been drama consultant for Council Center of Brooklyn and is co-director of Infinity Arts LI. Carolyn has studied at Brooklyn College, NYU, and in the professional acting program with the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, UK. Carolyn has toured the US and performed and traveled through 46 states. She has appeared in numerous east coast, regional, and Off-Off Broadway productions. She is the proud mom of two daughters who both enjoyed Usdan's Dance programs.

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Kenneth Gilbert

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater, Tech

Theater

Kenneth Gilbert Headshot

Kenneth has been at USDAN for 23 years as a stage technician in the theater dept and he is a retired teacher and a working musician.

 

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Deborah Lee Walker

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater

Theater

I started at Usdan teaching group beginner and advanced piano, summer of 2022. Last year, Summer 2023 I was part of the Theater Dept as Musical Director for both sessions. This summer 2024, I will be a Musical Director in the Theater Dept during Session 2. Piano is one of my art forms. When I’m not at Usdan I am involved in other musical theater venues as director, musical director and/or accompanist. I am also an accompanist in other situations, and teach voice and piano. My bachelor’s degree was at NYU. My masters at the New England Conservatory and Boston University. Fun Fact, I love to write songs.

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Michael Schwendemann

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater

Theater

Mike Schwendemann

Michael Schwendemann is happy to be back at Usdan this summer. He has a BA in Drama, Theatre, Dance from Queens College/CUNY and an MFA in Acting from the University of Alabama. One day he will complete his ME if he can ever find the time. He has been a member of the Huntington High School English Department for 20 years – where he has directed 30 productions ranging from Beauty and the Beast to The Laramie Project. He has appeared on the stages of the Genesis Repertory Ensemble, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the American Globe Theatre and the NYC Opera. On film & television don’t blink or you might miss him, he’s been spotted lurking in the background of everything from B-movies to Academy Award winning films – most recent TV appearances include Gotham (FOX), A Crime to Remember (ID), Boardwalk Empire (HBO), The Deuce (HBO), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime), and The Gilded Age (HBO).

 

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Freyja Goldstein

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater

Theater

Freyja Goldstein

Freyja Goldstein is an award-winning musical theater director and actor and is so excited to be joining the Usdan team. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has worked extensively in both Chicago and New York. She is currently an actor at the Long Island Children's Museum and the director of after-school for Piper Theater Company in Brooklyn.

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Victoria Garbarino

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater (Musical Theater)

Theater

Victoria Garbarino

Victoria Garbarino is a dedicated and multifaceted music educator entering her third Summer as a Music Director in the Theatre department at USDAN Summer Camp for the Arts. Her connection with USDAN is deep-rooted, having attended the camp as a student every summer from 2002 to 2007 where she was involved with the music, dance, and theatre departments.

Victoria holds both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Music Education and is currently in the process of writing her dissertation for her Doctorate, also in Music Education. Her scholarly work focuses on the impact of music education on students with autism, a subject she is passionately exploring through her doctoral research.

An accomplished vocalist, pianist, and French horn player, Victoria has dedicated the past decade to teaching in the public school system on Long Island as a Choral Director. Her commitment to her students and her passion for music are evident in her work.

At USDAN, Victoria brings her extensive expertise, enthusiasm, and a deep love for the arts, aiming to inspire and nurture the next generation of musicians.

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Jim Incorvaia

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Department Chair, Theater

Theater

Headshot Jim Incorvaia

Jim began teaching at Usdan in the summer of 1991 and after more than thirty summers in the woods, he is still as excited as when he first started. Jim is an actor, director and producer who has overseen more than three hundred shows in Usdan’s three theaters. He began his professional work in the arts at the age of five as a commercial model. He was bitten by the acting bug for good in high school. Jim obtained his B. A. and his M.S. in Education at Hofstra Univeristy and studied for his M.F.A. at Columbia. He is the founder of the OnStage Strategies Group, a theater consulting firm assisting educational and local theater programs as they work to grow and re-imagine their student offerings. Jim believes that art has the power to break down the barriers that divide us.

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Stephanie Martinez

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater

Theater

Stephanie Martinez

Stephanie Martinez (she/her) is a teaching artist, stage manager, and director. She holds a BFA in Stage Management from Hofstra University and an M.S.Ed in Educational Theatre from The City College of New York. Stephanie is the resident director of the Oceanside #9E Drama Club as well as a teaching artist for Arts For All, The Tilles Center, Envision Theater, Queens Theatre, Nassau County Libraries, and the Hofstra University Continuing Education Program. Stephanie is particularly passionate about providing culturally responsive and trauma-informed theatrical education to learners of all ages. This is her third summer at Usdan and she's so excited to be back! A fun fact about Stephanie is that she bakes a killer dutch-ovenless bread!

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Dan Sussman

Seasonal Faculty

Lead Teacher, Theater, Scene Shop

Theater

Dan Sussman Headshot

Dan has been at Usdan since the summer of 2003. During this time he dedicated his time to the Theater department building sets and props, running lighting and sound, working stage crew, and teaching students. Dan has been working as an Actor, Director, and Performer for the past 36 years. His philosophy in performing is based on a combination of Stanislavski and Meisner methods of approaching characters and performance. Dan holds A.A. in Acting from NCC and a B.F.A in Acting, Directing, and Technical theater from Binghamton University. During the school year Dan works as a teacher in the Sachem Central School District. His 3 biggest comic influences are Buster Keaton, Gene Wilder, and Andy Kaufman.