Meet the Artists

Your Partners in Education

Wolf Trap Teaching Artists are professional performing artists who are central to the Institute's services. They are selected through a rigorous process both for their arts expertise and for their experience in working with young children and knowledge of early childhood education. Each one uses the skills of their artistic discipline to support developmental learning and bring curricular concepts to life.

Our artists never stop learning and growing. Through peer sharing and review, continual professional development, and post-service reflection with Institute staff, they are constantly refining their own skills and staying up-to-date on the most important issues and best practices in early education.

Dance and Movement Artists

Drama and Storytelling Artists

Music Artists

Puppetry Artists

Artist Bios

An asterisk (*) indicates a Master Teaching Artist

Dance and Movement Teaching Artists

Valerie Branch joined Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts as a Teaching Artist in 2014. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Maryland College Park with a bachelor’s degree in dance. Valerie is the founder and artistic director of VB Dance Ensemble, a professional contemporary company focused on bringing social and cultural awareness and change through the power of dance. 

Hannah Goldberg is a dancer, choreographer, and educator from the Washington, D.C. area, and has been a Wolf Trap artist since 2016. She is a principal dancer and Vice President on the Board of Directors for Word Dance Theater, a cross-disciplinary performing arts company dedicated to continuing the legacy of Isadora Duncan's technique and revolutionary spirit. Hannah holds a Bachelor of Arts from The College of William and Mary in English and dance.

Rachel Knudson* is a Master Teaching Artist for Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts. She holds a master’s degree in dance education from George Washington University as well as a Maryland Educator certificate. Rachel danced professionally with the Pacific Northwest Ballet and studied modern dance at Jacob’s Pillow and the American Dance Festival.

Tiffany Quinn became a Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts Teaching Artist in 2014. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Howard University in dance, where she is currently the Co-Coordinator and Artist-In-Residence for the Department of Theatre and Dance Arts area. Tiffany toured and performed nationally and abroad as a member of Ronald K. Brown’s Evidence; A Dance Company, and continues to serve as a master teacher for the company.

Laura Schandelmeier*, a Master Teaching Artist for Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, has been with the organization since 2001. Laura received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University, and studied choreography with Bessie Schönberg in New York City. She received her certification as an arts integration specialist from the Teaching Artist Institute, administered by Maryland State Arts Council and Young Audiences of Maryland, in 2008 and certification as a teaching artist in Washington, DC in 2009. She is a choreographer, performer, teacher, and Co-Artistic Director of Dance Box Theater, Inc. with her husband and collaborator, Stephen Clapp.

Jaleesa Sharp became a Wolf Trap artist in 2016. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance arts from Howard University and has studied with many renowned guest choreographers/artists. Jaleesa is a new found member of Katherine Smith Contemporary Dance Ensemble Adult Company, where she continues her training as a performing artist. She had the privilege of performing “Truth Don’ Die,” choreographed by Ronald K. Brown, in the Africa Inaugural Ball for President Barack Obama in 2013 at The Marriott Crystal Gateway, Washington, DC.

Anne Sidney is a Teaching Artist for Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts. Anne has taught creative movement, ballet, and modern techniques in the DC area for fifteen years. She received a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Georgetown University and worked as a registered nurse at Georgetown University Hospital for 10 years. She received a certificate in Laban movement analysis from the Laban Institute for Movement Studies in 2001.

Internationally-acclaimed creative movement specialist John "Kinderman" Taylor* is well known as the "Pied Piper of Dance" because of his ability to inspire participants of all ages to teach and learn through the performing arts.  The "Kinderman" has been a Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts Master Artist since 1981. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Morgan State University and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art. After teaching in the Maryland public schools for eighteen years, John took a leave of absence to study dance therapy at Goucher College and special education at Coppin State University.

Terlene D. Terry-Todd* is a Master Teaching Artist for Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, the founding artistic director for the Reston Institute for the Arts, a retired certified dance and adapted physical education specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools, national presenter on dance education, and a freelance performing arts consultant and choreographer and CEO of Ms. T Productions. Mrs. Terry-Todd holds an undergraduate degree in physical education from Hampton University, a Master of Science in curriculum and instruction from the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, and a Master of Arts in dance history and choreography from American University. She has received numerous awards and accolades for her choreography, contributions to the arts and her work with special needs children.

Maria Tripodi has been a Teaching Artist with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts since 2004. She is a graduate from the Teaching Artist Institute, a program established by the Maryland Arts Counsel, Arts Education in MD Schools (AEMS), and Young Audiences of MD. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in performance and language arts and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Bennington College. Having grown up both in Washington, DC and Argentina, Maria conducts classes in both English and Spanish. Because she began dancing as an adult, Maria pays close attention to creating an enriching movement experience for both the experienced and novice dancer.

Master Teaching Artist Amanda Layton Whiteman* joined Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts in 2006. Along with her work at Wolf Trap, she teaches in after-school programs, and is the artistic director of The GroundWorks Dance Ensemble. Amanda holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and a Bachelor of Arts in integrated studies with a specialization in dance therapy from George Mason University (GMU).

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Drama and Storytelling Teaching Artists

Jennifer Brawer joined Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts in the fall of 2010 as a Teaching Artist. She has spent the past thirty years working in children’s theater and drama education. Over the past fifteen years, she also had the opportunity to create, develop and teach a tri-lingual (French/Spanish/English) elementary drama program which focused on self expression, work with legends and tales from around the world, and the creative interaction of the voice, body and the imagination.

Jordan Campbell is an actor, teaching artist, and entrepreneur who became a Wolf Trap Teaching Artist in 2016. He graduated from Western Kentucky University with degrees in musical theatre and political science, and also studied African Theatre & Dance at the University of Ghana. As a teaching artist, Jordan has conducted a wide variety of musical theatre workshops for students and adults, and has presented multiple professional development programs in schools and arts centers. He coaches private vocal and acting lessons, teaches, directs, and performs in Washington, DC. 

Valerie Bayne Carroll* has been with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts since 1983.  As a Master Teaching Artist, Valerie leads teacher professional development workshops in music and drama around the country. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater from Boston University, School for the Arts. Valerie has also presented workshops for the Kennedy Center and InterAct Story Theatre and taught classes for Imagination Stage, Round House Theatre, The Sitar Center and the arts-based Lucy School.  

Elena Day is a theater director, teacher and performer who became a Wolf Trap Teaching Artist in 2016. She created a signature character with Cirque du Soleil, and performs with the company worldwide. Elena earned a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and dance from Oberlin College, and completed her advanced studies at The École Internationale du Théâtre Jacques Lecoq.

Master Teaching Artist Paige Hernandez* joined Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts in 2005. A native of Baltimore, Paige attended the Baltimore School for the Arts and went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in theater and broadcast journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. Paige is a multifaceted artist, known for her innovative fusion of poetry, hip hop, dance, and education. She has written and performed several original works including Liner Notes and Havana Hop, a children’s show.

Master Teaching Artist Katherine Lyons* has worked for Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts since 1989 in Baltimore City Public Schools, Head Start, and Early Head Start with infants and toddlers. She tours regionally with her interactive story dramas, performs a one-woman show on immigration for the Jewish Museum of Maryland and Young Audiences. Katherine has a Bachelor of Arts in creative arts from the University of Virginia and studied creative arts education at San Francisco State University.

Ali Oliver-Krueger is the Artistic Director of InterAct Story Theatre, an educational theatre company based in Maryland. As a Teaching Artist for Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, Ali draws from theatre, storytelling, music, creative movement, puppetry and paper arts to create arts-based learning experiences for all ages.

Kristala Pouncy Smart joined Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts as a Teaching Artist in 2014. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from Eastern Michigan University in the Drama and Theatre for the Young program, a Master of Arts in theatre from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor of Arts in theatre from Kalamazoo College. Kristala moved to D.C. area a few years ago after living, performing, and teaching throughout Michigan, Chicago, Los Angeles, Alabama, and Maine.  

Leslie Putnam is a native of North Carolina and a graduate of the Western Carolina University Bachelor of Fine Arts musical theatre program. She has had the privilege to perform at many wonderful regional theatres and summer stocks all over the U.S. Leslie is a current Teaching Artist at Adventure Theatre-MTC, and she joined Wolf Trap Institute as a Teaching Artist in 2016.

Master Teaching Artist Melissa Richardson*, a director and stage manager, joined Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts in 2005. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing from Carnegie Mellon University. She is passionate about telling stories, whether they are published children’s literature, folktales from around the world, or stories created with children on the spot!

Wolf Trap Teaching Artist Khaleshia Thorpe-Price has worked as an arts manager and educator in the DC Metro area since 2006. She has partnered with many organizations including the United States Department of State, the National Portrait Gallery, and ZERO to THREE to provide unique arts learning experiences for all ages. Khaleshia earned a Master of Arts in arts management from the University of Central Florida and a Bachelor of Arts in theater arts from Morgan State University.

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Music Teaching Artists

Kim Bowers-Rheay Baran* received her Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of Oklahoma and her Montessori certification from the National Center for Montessori Education in Atlanta. As a Master Teaching Artist, Kim develops teacher professional learning workshops for Wolf Trap Institute and has presented at numerous locations including Alliance Theatre Institute, American Association of Theatre Educators (AATE), Woodruff Arts Center Teacher Conference, Utah Theater Association, and Georgia State University. 

Iyona Blake joined Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts in 2016. She is a Soprano, Actor, Recitalist, Professor in the Musical Theater Program at Howard University, sought-after private voice instructor and coach, and voice clinician at vocal music seminars, workshops, and conferences throughout the east coast. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Performance from Shenendoah Conservatory and her Master of Vocal Pedagody from Westminster Choir College.

Julio Cuellar joined Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts in 2016. An accomplished national singer, music composer and teacher, and renowned Latin American musician, he earned a Certificate of Education in Music from the Department of Education and Culture of the Republic of Bolivia in January 1990. He also graduated from Escuela Normal Integrada Enrique Finot in musical education as an honor student, and was conferred as specialized teacher of musical education by the University of Chile and Inter-American Institute of Musical Education.

Kofi Dennis* has been a Master Teaching Artist with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts since 1998. He is a graduate of the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, and studied early childhood and adolescent education at Komenda College, University of Cape Coast. Since 2004, Kofi has teamed up with the faculty of the World Children’s Choir to present African drumming for concepts and for peace.  He performs as half of the duo Anansegromma, presenting music, dance, drums, games, and stories. 

Christina Farrell’s* experience as a Master Teaching Artist includes classroom residencies and professional development for Gateway to the Arts Aesthetic Education Institute and Western Pennsylvania Wolf Trap. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in vocal performance from Carnegie Mellon University and Master of Arts in Educational Theatre from New York University. Christina is the Founding Director of Opera Ignite, a company dedicated to creative education through music, drama, and movement. She is also the Educational Director for Prime Stage Theatre which promotes literacy skills to reluctant adolescent readers through theater-based experiences.

Lizabeth Flood began working as a Teaching Artist for Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts in 2010. Lizabeth is a critically acclaimed jazz vocalist, songwriter, and pianist. A native Washingtonian, she has been singing and playing the piano at Washington area venues for over three decades.  Lizabeth has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Maryland.

Mary Gresock*, a Master Teaching Artist, joined Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts in 1999. She received a bachelor’s degree in music from The Catholic University with a concentration in music education, piano, and voice and a master’s degree in voice/opera performance from the University of Maryland, College Park. Mary continues to sing/act professionally throughout the metropolitan area, having sung roles with such companies as Wolf Trap Opera, Annapolis Opera, Washington National Opera, The Studio Theatre, Signature Theatre, and the IN Series of D.C.

Slim Harrison* has been a Master Teaching Artist with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts since 1983. A traditional American folk musician, storyteller and dance caller, he has performed for schools and festivals across the U.S. and Canada. Slim takes pleasure in introducing preschool children to Appalachian and World folk songs, dances, and instruments including the fiddle and fiddlesticks, 5-string banjo (fretted and fretless), Appalachian lap dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, mandolin, autoharp, mouth bow, Jew’s harp and many world instruments. 

Yvette Holt has been a Teaching Artist with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts since 2004. Yvette holds a master’s degree in music education and voice from Howard University. She served as mentor to music teachers in DC Public Schools and as Arts Consultant for the DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative – Arts Education Initiative.

Anna Jackson joined Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts as a Teaching Artist in 2014. Anna is a graduate of University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she received a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance. A Northern VA native, she has continued to perform in plays and musicals with local theater companies and children’s theaters, and recently began teaching classes with Imagination Stage in Bethesda, MD.

Deborah “Spice” Kleinmann has been a Teaching Artist with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts since 2006. She primarily teaches music and is a preschool music teacher at Downtown Baltimore Childcare Center. Spice has been trained by the Teaching Artist Institute in Arts Integration for elementary through high school grades. She has a degree in biology education and natural resource management.

Magpie is the versatile duo of Terry Leonino* and Greg Artzner*. Terry Leonino joined Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts in 1982. At Terry’s urging, Greg joined in 1984. Together, they are Master Teaching Artists with specialties in teaching strategies for children with special needs, emergent literacy, and the environment, all through the magic of music. Terry holds three education degrees, including two in special education.  Greg studied music and theater in college. In 2004 they were the recipients of the prestigious John Denver award for environmental activism through music by the World Folk Music Association. 

Curtis “Blues” Mailloux became a Teaching Artist for Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts in 2014. Curtis earned his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy at Marshal University and also has certifications from the Teaching Artist Institute of Maryland for arts integration.  He has two critically acclaimed CDs and earned the award for Blues Artist of the Year in 2010 for MD, VA, and DC. 

Margaret McLaughlin has been a Teaching Artist for Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts since 2016. With a Bachelor of Arts in theatre from Northwestern University and a Master of Fine Arts in theatre for young audiences from Arizona State University, Margaret is passionate about ensuring all children have access to high quality instruction in music, drama, and dance.

Anna Nurmi became a Wolf Trap Teaching Artist in 2016. She is in her 18th year of sharing the joy of music in private schools and organizations as well as teaching piano lessons and music theory in her private studio in Fairfax County, Virginia. Anna has a piano pedagogy certificate from George Mason University and a communication studies degree and minor in management and economics from Virginia Tech.

Rachel Panay has been a Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts Teaching Artist since 2010. A Duke Ellington High School for the Arts graduate with a concentration in musical theater and Berklee College of Music graduate with a dual degree in vocal performance and arranging, Rachel launched her career as a performing/recording artist in the dance music genre, leading to a string of six consecutive Billboard charting singles from 2004 to present.

Monica Perz-Waddington joined Wolf Trap in 2016, and has shared her passion for music with culturally diverse audiences for over 20 years. She has a Master of Public Health from John’s Hopkins University, and a Bachelor of Philosophy in economics, history, and Latin American studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Additionally, she recently completed training as a Certified Virginia Master Naturalist. Monica currently teaches music at St. Christopher’s Preschool and is the Children’s Music Minister at Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church.

Alden Phelps became a Wolf Trap Teaching Artist in 2016. After receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Alden married a puppeteer and with a few friends created a community arts center that featured theatre productions, puppet shows, and art classes. He has performed for schools, libraries, and festivals across Maryland and Virginia.

Elias Schutzman became a Wolf Trap Teaching Artist in 2016. As a musician, Elias is a drummer for the international touring bands The Flying Eyes and Black Lung, releasing 6 original albums since 2010. As an actor, he has worked with respected theatre companies such as Center Stage, Everyman Theatre, and most recently the Baltimore Rock Opera Society. A native of Baltimore, Elias attended the Baltimore School for the Arts and went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in theatre from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Elnathan K. Starnes (AKA “Groovy Nate”) became a Teaching Artist for Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts in 2014. He attended Howard University with a major in jazz studies and a minor in guitar.  Elnathan is a children’s performer who blends music, puppet skits, movement, and comedy into one groovy experience!

Sue Trainor* is a Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts Master Teaching Artist based in the DC/MD/VA Program.  She has been a Wolf Trap Teaching Artist since 2003, bringing professional development residencies into preschool, kindergarten and special needs classrooms, providing professional development workshops for early childhood educators and training for other teaching artists.  Sue was named "Best New Artist for Young Children" in the Children's Music Web Awards in 1999 and won "Best Children's Vocalist" from the Washington Area Music Association twice. Sue received her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from Lawrence University.

Master Teaching Artist Michele Valeri* has been with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts since the program began in 1981. Michele is a graduate of Catholic University with a master’s degree in theatre arts from Penn State University. Her albums Mi Casa Es Su Casa, Dinosaur Rock, and Dreamosaurus won Parent’s Choice magazine awards for the Best Children’s Albums; The Great Dinosaur Mystery garnered two Wammies; and Dreamosaurus was additionally honored with a Grammy nomination in February, 2000. 

Janice Zucker began working as a Teaching Artist with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts in 2004. In the late ‘90s, she went back to school and graduated in 2001 from George Mason University with a degree in musical theater. She has acted at many theaters around the DC metropolitan area in addition to doing voiceover work.

Sylvia Zwi began working with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts in 1994. She arrived in New York from Brazil over two decades ago and has since established herself as a dynamic and innovative educator. She holds a position of music teacher at Oyster-Adams Bilingual School (DCPS - English/Spanish) and has been active with numerous arts organizations including Levine School of Music, Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, Sitar Arts Center, and Choral Arts Society.

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Puppetry Teaching Artists

Ingrid Crepeau* has been a Master Teaching Artist with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts since 1985. She has a Bachelor of Arts in radio and television from the University of Maryland. Since 1984, she has been the co-owner of Dinorock Productions Inc., whose CD “Dreamosaurus” received a Grammy nomination in 2000. Also the co-founder of Patchwork Productions, Ingrid is the winner of two regional Emmy awards for the design of the puppets she constructed for "Sneakers," an award-winning children's television series on WDVM-TV in Washington, D.C. 

Kathleen Lynam* is a national and international Teaching Artist with Nashville Wolf Trap, based at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center since 1991. She has been a Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts Master Teaching Artist since 2001. Learners of all ages and abilities engage with Kathleen’s handcrafted puppets, designed with “puppet-ability” to reach all levels of development.

Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts Master Teaching Artist Joe Pipik* has been entertaining family audiences (starting with his own) his entire life. He began his work with Wolf Trap in 1982. In the past 30 years, Joe has co-created many shows still being performed throughout the area by The Blue Sky Puppet Theatre, DinoRock Productions and his own GoodLife Theater. He has won WAMMY Awards for CD recordings and performances with DinoRock.

Penny Russell* has worked as a Master Teaching Artist with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts since 2010. She is a puppeteer and performed with Good Life Theater for three seasons of the Field Trip Performance at the Center for Education at Wolf Trap as Shelly in "Junkyard Pirates." In addition, Penny has worked as a writer, director, and performer with the Blue Sky Puppet Theatre since 1994.

Wolf Trap Master Teaching Artist Jeanne Wall* received her Bachelor of Arts in drama therapy from the University of Maryland. In addition to her work as a Wolf Trap Master Teaching Artist, she designs puppets and performs in Goodlife Theatre productions, Tanka Tales & Granny’s Appalachian Tales. In 2000, Jeanne was commissioned to design and perform a special shadow puppet show for the National Museum for Women in the Arts in conjunction with the Julie Taymor Exhibit.  

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