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

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!

Riley Burke

(she/her/hers)

Art Forms: Creative Writing, Music, Storytelling, Theater

Riley Burke is a Queens-based multidisciplinary artist and educator who is passionate about equity, sustainability and justice. As a writer, producer and performer, she bridges light and dark spaces and her work explores bound and untethered states, female power and liberation. As an educator, she brings her enthusiasm, experience, compassion and humor when working alongside students. Her approach incorporates technique and repetition with structured improvisation, and her focus is empowering emerging artists to tell their stories individually and in collaboration with classmates.

Favorite Arts Ignite Memory: Working alongside the kids at Covenant House as they explored concepts like rhythm, tempo, time, harmony and melody, which culminated in collaboratively creating and performing a song each week…such a rewarding, challenging and fun experience!

Liz Chidester

(she/her/hers)

Art Forms: Music, Theater

LIZ CHIDESTER is an award winning and critically acclaimed singer/songwriter, actor, and teaching artist originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She was a long time teaching artist at the historic Old Town School of Folk Music, and has collaborated as an actor and a composer with PigPen Theatre Co., Chicago Children’s Theatre, and Cabinet of Curiosity. She is an Ensemble Member of American Blues Theatre and Firebrand Theatre. She continues to play live shows and release albums, EPs and singles with her band, LIZ AND THE LOVELIES, and is now collaborating on the “Latin Americana” duo project LIZ & NILKO with her partner, Colombian classical guitarist Nilko Andreas. She is a member of the Recording Academy and the Folk Alliance International. www.lizandthelovelies.com

Favorite Arts Ignite Memory: Last year in Richmond, VA, the final performance was incredibly well attended and vibrant. I was so proud of what we did in such a short week. Going back to my home state was also very special for me.

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.

Chavon Hampton

(she/her/hers)

Art Forms: Dance

Chavon Hampton is a quadruple threat out of New Haven, CT. She has toured the world with Broadway shows & can also be seen in multiple films, commercials and tv shows as well. Chavon was also a professional model for 3 years and continues to grow in her crafts. She enjoys guiding the youth in their journey of finding their passion for the arts.

Favorite Arts Ignite Memory: My favorite Arts Ignite moment is every time I return to a camp and reoccurring kids run up to me to let me that they still remember everything we learned. They share it with their friends outside of the program and even use the warm-up to prepare for sports events.

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.

Tiffany Mellard

(she/her/hers)

Art Forms: Dance, Musical Theater

Tiffany Mellard is a performing artist, dance educator, and arts advocate born and raised in Bronx, NY. Education: Florida State University (BFA Dance), and the Harvard Graduate School of Education (Ed.M. in Arts in Education). Some performance credits include: Hamilton: An American Musical (National Tour), Memphis (Gateway Playhouse), Chicago The Musical (National Tour), and West Side Story (International Tour). She has also freelanced with many NYC based artists. In addition to her work with Arts Ignite, she is also a teaching artist with New York City Center, the Misty Copeland Foundation, and Brooklyn Ballet. In addition, Tiffany serves on the Board of Directors at the NYC-based dance education non-profit, Dancewave, and is the Initiatives Coordinator for the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable. www.tiffanymellard.com

Favorite Arts Ignite Memory: My favorite Arts Ignite memory was the 2024 Teaching Artist Meet and Greet when we had the opportunity to connect with the incredibly kind, creative, and passionate individuals that this organization is composed of.

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.

Saúl Nache

(he/they)

Art Form: Music

Saúl is a Latinx music director, singer, pianist, voice teacher, arranger, choral teaching artist, and is full of positive energy for all musical projects that range from music theater, concert, and opera. He has enjoyed working on over 23 shows in full productions, workshops, readings, and cabarets. When they aren’t in rehearsal, Saúl enjoys running, outdoor activities, and knitting.

Favorite Arts Ignite Memory: NYSA will be my first time working with Arts Ignite,  but I am excited to get to meet and work with the students!

Patricia Noonan

(she/her/hers)

Art Forms: Acting, Creative Writing

Patricia Noonan is a writer, actor, and educator. Her work includes book & lyrics for the musicals Sweetwater, Learning How to Drown, The Adventures of Ara, and the upcoming game/RPG Defenders of the Wild for Outlandish Games. As an actor, she has appeared at the Roundabout, Lincoln Center, City Center, Arden, and theaters and screens across the country. She loves helping others to unlock the power of their voice and working with writers of all ages to create new pieces. She is a proud advocate of access to arts education for all and teaching artist with Arts Ignite, People’s Light & Theatre, and at schools throughout the northeast. www.patricianoonan.com

Favorite Arts Ignite Memory: Any time I’ve been given the opportunity to create the space for students to devise their own play together. I love watching the stories dreamed up by students come to life from idea inception to final sharing. Each time, I see students embrace a little more confidence in their abilities and in who they could be — and I am reminded of the immense creativity, resourcefulness, imagination, and power within our students if we allow the space for them to exercise and step into it.

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. 

 

 

Gladys Pasapera

(she/her/hers)

Art Forms: Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, and Collage

Gladys Pasapera is a Peruvian-American artist and high school educator working with New York City teens. She has been working with Arts Ignite since 2009, from Art-in-Action, to Teach For India partnerships, and Newcomer Youth Summer Academy programs (NYSA), as well as many community workshops all over the city.

Favorite Arts Ignite Memory: My first NYSA summer of 2012 – I didn’t know what to expect and had little experience with English Language Learners. Once I gave them sketchbooks, the high school students were so honest and willing to share their truths and feelings about coming to America. The camaraderie was so beautiful!

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!

Max Raymond

(he/him/his)

Art Form: Theater

Max Raymond (he/him) is a trans man, educator, and multidisciplinary theatre artist living in NYC and specializing in new work. He works as the Director of Communications at Theatre of the Oppressed NYC and volunteers as a Mentor with the Sam & Devorah Foundation for Trans Youth and the Trans Empowerment Project. Max has taught vocal performance, piano, music theory, and theatre to students of all ages and is available for hire as a gender consultant and trans literacy trainer. His extensive nonprofit and regional theatre involvement has included work with Chautauqua Theater Company, Triad Stage, 826DC, India’s Sehgal Foundation, the New York Neo-Futurists, and The Drama League. 2024 NY4CA Artist Advocacy Resident.

Favorite Arts Ignite Memory: Drawing a portrait of a fellow teaching artist at a T.A. mixer!

 

Reuben Sack

(he/him/his)

Art Form: Creative Writing

Reuben Sack is a multi-genre writer, teaching artist and ghostwriter. His children’s fiction includes a dozen novels in the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mystery series for Simon and Schuster, and a Batman picture book for Penguin Random House/DC Comics. Reuben teaches creative writing to kids of all ages in public schools across NYC and beyond for a variety of arts education nonprofits. At the college level, he has guest lectured at Full Sail University and Hunter College School of Education. Reuben is also a dedicated gardener who can often be found outside discussing new story ideas with his plants.

Favorite Arts Ignite Memory: It’s too hard to pick just one! There are so many, including the first-grader at Arts Ignite Waterloo! who used our first free write to process the loss of a grandparent. He was so inspired that he snuck back into every creative writing class for the next two weeks, regardless of age group—he was easy to spot trying to blend in with the high schoolers! There’s something so special about seeing a child embrace art as both a source of joy and a tool to help them through life’s challenges.

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.

Morgan Sendek

(she/her/hers)

Art Forms: Music, Theater

Morgan is an actor and multi-disciplinary teaching artist from Arlington, Virginia. Morgan specializes in early education, providing arts strategies to guide social-emotional development and giving students tools to grow and express themselves with confidence. Morgan loves collaborating with writers and has performed in new works at the Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage Festival and the Women’s Voices Theatre Festival. Her first feature film, Dakota, debuted at the DC Independent Film Festival and held its West Coast premiere at Dances with Films. She won Best Actress in a Comedy Award for SHRUG Production’s multi-award winning short film Mean Cuisine. Morgan received a Bachelor of Music from The Catholic University of America and studied classical theatre at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Morgan currently teaches with Arts Ignite, Community-Word Project, Queens Theatre, and Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts. www.morgansendek.com

Alejandro Senior

(he/him/his)

Art Form: Music

Alejandro is a music director and teaching artist from the Dominican Republic residing in NYC. He loves creating theater and working in rooms where collaboration is at the forefront. Teaching the next artists of the world is a true passion of his. Alejandro’s favorite credits include SOME LIKE IT HOT, QUEEN OF VERSAILLES, DEATH BECOMES HER, GUN AND POWDER, and LIKE FATHER.

Favorite Arts Ignite Memory: Teaching at NYSA was the most fulfilling experience I’ve had in a long time. Writing the music class song with the students was so amazing. I loved working there.

Hilarie Rose Spangler

(she/her/hers)

Art Forms: Movement, Music, Songwriting, Theater

Hilarie Spangler is a multi-instrumentalist, teaching artist and arts producer based in New York City. In her work, she actively uses her background as a musician and storyteller to explore authentic, collaborative, and musical community experiences. From 2018-2022, Hilarie served as the co-founding artistic director of Cardinal Cross Arts Collective: as a, betwixt-and-between team of misfit female-identifying creative artists and teachers. She is an active teaching artist through organizations like Brooklyn Music Factory, The International Storytelling Center, Pratt Institute, Eastern Tennessee State University, and more! As a music director and band leader she has led musicals and plays throughout NYC, Nashville, and Louisville, as well as the monthly show “The Family Liquid Dinner Cabaret.” Hilarie has a deep connection to community-based arts and loves helping young students find their creative voice!

Favorite Arts Ignite Memory: Getting to watch students from different cultures write one song in four languages at Covenant House! It truly shows that music is a universal language.

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.

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

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.



Support our work

Become a vital part of expanding access to arts education.

Young person reaches up to put a paper star on the wall
Two young people leap across the room with their arms up

Keep up with the latest

Sign up to our newsletter and stay up-to-date with Arts Ignite news, events and happenings.

Name
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.