Meet Our Teaching Artists

Our Teaching Artists practice within a range of disciplines, but they all share a love for inspiring  young people to cultivate their strengths.

Teaching artists at a Community Event
Teaching artist wearing a fun, fuzzy wig

Why Teach Arts?

From Broadway veterans to seasoned faculty to up-and-coming artists, our teaching artists share their gifts to help young people develop theirs

Teaching artistry is an exciting career for professional artists and educators interested in developing life-changing experiences for young people. Through workshops and residencies, Arts Ignite teaching artists use the arts to build creative capacity in youth around the world, building lasting community bonds at the same time.

Inspire young artists to discover their gifts

Arts Ignite Teaching Artists create indelible memories—both for themselves and the young people they serve. As they guide youth through incredible transformation, Teaching Artists experience the joy of seeing students’ perspectives and opportunities expand. 

Build transferable skills for professional success

Learning proven techniques to bridge the studio and the classroom, Arts Ignite Teaching Artists make use of the skills they develop with Arts Ignite in diverse professional careers.

Promote equitable access to arts experiences for young people everywhere

Arts Ignite programs allow artists and educators to put their principles into practice—and give them a platform to pursue the goal of true equity in education.

Teaching Artists Stories

Our teaching artists are at the heart of what we do

During my most recent trip to Shanti Bhavan in India, I was asked to help out with the 11th grade multimedia piece for graduation. It was a source of great pressure for the students. There was so much anxiety surrounding the creation of a ‘good product’ that it became difficult to engage the group’s minds creatively.

Austen Bohmer, Arts Ignite Teaching Artist

We prioritize process over product

One student finally expressed the main source of her stress to Austen. The student wanted to be able to tell her story and the stories of her participating peers. As soon as she established the true purpose of the project alongside a teaching artist, the creative juices flowed freely and the piece came together in a matter of a few rehearsals!

Our teaching artists create a safe space for imaginations to flourish

The brave student who advocated for some ownership over the piece turned out to be an incredible physical storyteller! Together they were able to use poetry, shadow-work, music, and movement to craft a piece that each young person felt represented their experience. This just one example of collaboration and of the magic that can occur when a spark of creativity is given the space to truly catch fire.

Teaching artist high fives a student

Arts Ignite Teaching Artists

Austen Danielle Bohmer

Austen Danielle Bohmer

(she/her/hers)

Austen Danielle Bohmer is an actor, songwriter, and proud Arts Ignite teaching artist since 2012. She loves inciting moments of communal dance, inspiring silliness amongst students, and cultivating spaces that feel safe to follow the impulses of imagination. Broadway: Diana. Off-Broadway: Days of Rage. TV: FBI: Most Wanted. Barrington, Goodspeed, St. Louis Rep, Sacramento Music Circus. BFA: Webster Conservatory. RADA, London. You can listen to her original music on all streaming platforms under the name Plain Austen. @plainausten

The student who had been so brave as to advocate for some ownership over the piece turned out to be a breathtakingly beautiful physical storyteller! And we were able to use poetry, shadow-work, music, and movement to craft a piece that each student felt represented their experience. It was such a stunning example of collaboration, and of the magic that can occur when a spark of passion is given the space to truly catch fire.

Zahra Budhwani

Zahra Budhwani

(she/her/hers)

Zahra Budhwani is a queer Desi-American director, choreographer, and teaching artist based in NYC. She has taught theatre and dance with Arts Ignite, CO/LAB Theatre Group, Broadway Bound Kids, Child’s Play, and more. She holds a BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch- Playwrights Horizons Theatre School with a minor in Global and Urban Education. Zahra is passionate about creating community spaces for people of all ages to imagine new worlds and cultivate joy together!

Marcus Crawford Guy

Marcus Crawford Guy

(he/him; they/them)

Marcus is an actor and screenwriter hailing from Glasgow, Scotland. A proud member of SAG/AFTRA, Marcus’ work has been seen on AMC, AdultSwim, the BBC and at major LGBTQIA+ Film Festivals around the world including New York’s own, NewFest. As a teaching artist, Marcus has worked with the National Queer Theater, stART Osceola – a Central Florida Performinmg Arts Initiative and has been active member of the Arts Ignite Community since 2016. He is currently a candidate for the MFA in Writing For Screen and Television at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.

As a creator, I find it’s essential to keep one arm outstretched in search of opportunity for your own growth, and the other outstretched to provide opportunity to others.

Ana Holschuh

Ana Holschuh

(she/her/hers)

Designer, researcher, and illustrator deeply passionate about using community-based design, media, and art to create a positive social impact, especially as it relates to children’s development. Ana has a wide range of experiences working with nonprofits and community-based organizations. In the past years, she has brought free arts programming to homeless shelters and social service centers in NYC, co-created resources to help teachers implement participatory budgeting in their schools, and supported a youth media collective formed of residents living in informal settlements in Cape Town. In her free time, you can find her sketching all over Barcelona, her hometown.

Emily Hart Lopez

Emily Hart Lopez

(she/her/hers)

Emily Hart Lopez is a professional dancer, actor, and teacher based in NYC. She is a graduate of UNCSA with a B.F.A in Dance. Her work ranges from company work, choreographing, latin dance, immersive theater, commercial work, etc. Some credits: Gotham Dance Theater, Alterra Productions, Rumbamena, NYLA, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Grace Kelly, Flint Rep, DPA Tour, and ABC’s Dirty Dancing. Emily started with Arts Ignite in 2018 in India and has taught with Notes in Motion, The School at Columbia, SassClass, Brooklyn Dance Lessons, and beyond. She has worked with little ones to adults domestically and internationally and is a passionate arts advocate.

Morgan McGhee

Morgan McGhee

(she/her/hers)

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Morgan McGhee is a New York City based professional dancer/singer/actress. She has performed in numerous regional theatre, Broadway, and Off- Broadway productions, as well as TV and film. Morgan received her training in Dance Theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) of New York, where she studied multiple genres of dance, in addition to acting and vocal performance. Morgan believes it is important for everyone to be exposed to the power of the arts, for art can be medicine for the soul. She has dedicated her time to teaching at youth summer camps, intensives, and workshops at various schools and dance studios across the US and internationally. 

A child’s creativity is our most precious resource.

Catherine Melendez

Catherine Melendez

(she/her/hers)

Catherine Melendez is an artist and art educator based in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a B.A. in Visual and Public Art from California State University Monterey Bay, and an M.A. in Art Education from the City College of New York. Catherine has worked as a Teaching Artist with Arts Ignite since the summer of 2016. During the school year, she teaches art at an elementary school in Brooklyn. Catherine is a practicing artist whose most recent work involves a scope of mixed media approaches; encompassing painting, embroidery, collage and paper craft. Thematically, her work navigates concepts of feminism, sexuality, and identity, and the ways in which those concepts are celebrated and endured.

To me, being an artist is a special way of thinking and seeing the world. I wanted to become an art teacher because I wanted to give others the abilities to share their vision. But it turns out nothing has inspired me more as an artist than teaching it to young minds.

Leila Mire

Leila Mire

(she/her/hers)

Leila is a multi hyphenated artist teaching with Arts Ignite (formerly ASTEP) since 2017. A BFA Dance Performance graduate of George Mason University (‘18) and the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble (‘14), Leila is driven by a desire to work from a politically informed, liberatory place. In addition to teaching, she performs throughout the city with a variety of dance companies, writes for thINKingDance, acts as a community organizer, and choreographs. Her work has been featured in publications like the New York Times and Washington Post. She is a current MA candidate at NYU Tisch where she focuses on Middle Eastern performance and diasporic studies.

Juanita Castro Ochoa

Juanita Castro Ochoa

(she/her/hers)

Juanita Castro-Ochoa is a Colombian NYC based actress and teaching artist with an MFA in acting from the Actor Studio Drama School. She specializes in teaching  and coaching in the non-profit sector with students in the New York City area. She has been teaching with Arts Ignite for 5 years in different programs including IRC NYSA, Shanti Bahavan in India and Lutheran Children service. She has also acted in various plays, short films and commercials. In her free time she is training to become an amateur boxer. 

 

 

Tameishia Peterson

Tameishia Peterson

(she/her/hers)

Tameishia, pronounced Tuh-My-Sha, A native to Dayton but equally raised most of her youth hood in Memphis. Her talent and passion for storytelling guided her towards a career in acting. She attended The Ohio State University, Michael Howard Studios (NYC) & Fiasco Conservatory (NYC) to study Theatre. Prior to Ohio State, she studied Business Management with a focus on Entrepreneurship at Sinclair Community College. She’s passionate about social causes, devised theater/sketch and her family. Connecting with Arts Ignite during the Artist as Citizen Conference was pivotal in her journey to become a teaching artist. Can’t wait for all the good we’re going to do!

Midori Samson

Midori Samson

(she/her/hers)

Midori Samson has been a teaching artist with Arts Ignite since 2012. Currently, she is the bassoon professor at Oklahoma State University and performs with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. Other recent collaborators include Yo-Yo Ma and Youth Music Culture Guangdong (China), Mashirika Theater Company (Rwanda), Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Trade Winds Ensemble, and Project Tumugtog (Philippines). She recently completed her doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where her dissertation research explored how musicians can operationalize social work principles as anti-racist action. She holds additional degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and The Juilliard School. MidoriSamson.com

Working with Arts Ignite has influenced everything I do as a musician and educator! Whether I am teaching college-level bassoon, leading a beginning music class for first-graders, or performing a solo recital, I aim to bring the skills I’ve gained through Arts Ignite to my approach: trust, joy, patience, curiosity, flexibility and warmth.

Will Thomason

Will Thomason

(he/him/his)

Will Thomason joined Arts Ignite in 2018 and has enjoyed working as a Teaching Artist, Program Facilitator, and Guest Performer for Arts Ignite initiatives in NYC and beyond. As a multi-hyphenate artist, he has performed regionally in various musicals and plays, and has had his original songs performed in festivals in Michigan, North Carolina, and New York City. Will has worked internationally with a variety of community organizations, ranging from youth development and education to community organizing and social activism.

Arts Ignite has been a consistent source of joy for me since I joined, and I have grown immensely as a Teaching Artist while working with students and fellow artists. Arts Ignite’s focus on social and emotional development through the arts is one that is employed both in the classrooms, as well as in the community as a whole.

Forest Van Dyke

Forest VanDyke

(he/him/his)

Forest VanDyke is an actor/singer/writer/teaching artist originally from Austin, Texas. He holds a BFA in Theater Performance from Texas State University. Before that he was privileged to join The American Boychoir School in Princeton, NJ where he lived, trained, recorded, and had the opportunity to tour the world. After college, Forest moved to New York City where he has lived for the past 13 years. He has been able to perform in concerts, regional, and Off Broadway shows and he is currently taking over the role as Banzai in Disney’s The Lion King – Rafiki Tour! He is dedicated to helping open up others to the beauty they have within themselves through his art.

Teaching Opportunities

Our programs give teaching artists new pathways for inspiring the next generation of creative thinkers and doers

When you teach with Arts Ignite, we connect you directly with young people who can benefit the most from your work—and we provide comprehensive support and guidance when you need it.

Workshops and Residencies

  • Arts Ignite engages artists of all art forms
  • Teaching Artists lead single or multi-session classes, according to their interests and availability
  • These workshops often serve as a young person’s first exposure to an art form

Arts Camps and Community Events

  • Cultivate art in community through single-session, half-day experiences
  • Broaden the impact of your efforts at fairs, festivals, and special events
  • Work with youth and families across multiple generations

International Experiences

  • Live and work abroad for 1- to 6-week residencies
  • Collaborate  with our fabulous international partners
  • Deepen your cultural competency through training and curriculum development

Teaching Artist Training

Our Teaching Artist Training program supports you in combining your professional artistic experience with effective teaching strategies

Whether you’re a certified teacher with years of classroom experience or a new teaching artist entering the field, our Arts Ignite Teaching Artist Training is for you! We offer the opportunity to deepen your practice, stay current with educational best practices, and develop your personal pedagogy in an arts standards-based curriculum.

Deepen your teaching experience with Arts Ignite

Our teaching artist training program is designed for individual teaching artists or teams preparing to lead arts experiences with young people. Training focuses on lesson development and execution through the lenses of community-based programming, Social Emotional Learning, culturally relevant instruction, the National Arts Standards, and the Universal Design for Learning.

 

Coming Fall 2022!

Child Safeguarding

All Arts Ignite Teaching Artists must complete a successful background check and adhere to the Arts Ignite Child Safeguarding Policy.



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