Estella Owoimaha-Church, M.A., is a Theatre Director and English teacher. Estella holds degrees in Secondary Education, Language Arts and Literacy, Africana Studies, and Urban Education. With a background in Theatre Arts and Hip Hop Based Education, she believes art and social justice have the power to transform lives. Dedicated to service, she works to honor students’ full humanity while innovating strategies and tools to increase empowerment, agency and motivation among youth. Her favorite thing about being an educator is building relationships with students that move far beyond the classroom and last a lifetime. She believes students are capable of exceeding expectations when they feel loved and safe, and she enjoys watching students learn how to advocate for themselves and their communities.
Kimberleigh Aarn is an arts education consultant that has served the field for over 20 years. With the LA County Arts Commission: Arts Education Collective she supports school districts with strategic planning and has coached districts like Inglewood, Claremont, Newhall, Antelope Valley, Saugus Union and El Monte City with the development of an arts education plan. She has been a guest lecturer for the UCLA Visual and Performing Arts Education Program (VAPAE) where she delivered lesson plan development practicums under the teaching artist course sequence, consulted with the Center for Research on Creativity (CRoC) to support observations in administering the Next Generation Creativity Survey, and served as an arts discipline specialist with PS Arts and Crossroads Arts & Science. She worked nationally as a Senior Arts Educator at the Galef Institute with its professional development program/model curriculum, and with Different Ways of Knowing where she delivered coaching services throughout California, Arizona and New York. Kimberleigh is also a performing artist, potter and recently started her own creative consultancy called Open Top Creativity. Recently she had the pleasure of co-authoring the California Alliance for Arts Education’s Insider’s Guide to Arts Education Planning: 3rd Edition. She received her MFA from the Yale School of Drama, and her BFA in Dramatic Arts from Emerson College.
Since 2004, the Story Pirates education department has paired experienced teachers with talented artists to collaborate with schools and community organizations in creating exciting, dynamic classes on writing and theater arts. Story Pirates started with one pilot program in Harlem, NYC, and now works in over 250 schools around the country. In 2018, they released their first book, the critically acclaimed Stuck in the Stone Age. The follow up book, Digging Up Danger, will be released early in 2019, and contains a writing guide for how to create your own mystery story.
Santa Monica Repertory Theater
Barbara Urich is delighted to share her passion for theatre and love of language as a teaching artist with The Broad Stage. In fourth grade, her elementary school psychologist recommended her mom put her in drama classes as a creative and emotional outlet. Years later, her relationship with theatre would intertwine with a fascination of language as she read Macbeth in Sophomore English class. Since then, Barbara has acted in numerous productions with companies such as the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Shakespeare by the Sea and Santa Monica Rep. She has toured as a teaching artist with Kingsmen Shakespeare Company and the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Closer to home, she has taught classes in Imagination Theatre and Improvisation as well as directed children's theatre with Santa Monica's Kids on Stage.
Versa-Style Dance Company
Brandon Allen Juezan-Williams a.k.a. “Beast Boy” first showed interest in Hip-Hop dance when he was in middle school. He initially took a liking to Krump, a street dance style, and was eventually exposed to other dance styles upon reaching high school. He later met Jackie Lopez of Versa-Style Dance Company at a local dance competition, who gave him a scholarship to attend the UCLA Dance/Theater Intensive in summer of 2009. By 2010, he was a member of Versa-Style Next Generation and subsequently became a professional dancer with Versa-Style Dance Company in 2014. He currently works as a teaching artist for The Flourish Foundation at Augustus F. Hawkins High School and Jefferson High School, in addition to serving as Project Manager for Versa-Style Dance Company. He graduated from California State Fullerton in Fall 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Entertainment/Tourism Management, and hopes to create a business that gives artists the platform to showcase their talents and provides them with the space to train and grow.
Pacifico Dance Company
Esmeralda Magaña was raised with the belief that education is essential and dance is a form of expressing love for one’s culture. Her parents migrated here for a better future, and their experience of systemic injustice has motivated her to become an educator. Esmeralda has volunteered as a tutor through City Year Los Angeles and currently works at Esperanza College Prep as part of the administrative team. Esmeralda began dancing folklorico at the age of twelve and loves using her feet and body to express her pride in her culture. She began performing with community groups, was Artistic Director of Grupo Folklorico de UCLA and established Ballet Folklorico Son de la Palma. Esmeralda is currently a member of Pacifico Dance Company and plans to continue to merge her passions for education and dance throughout her lifetime.
Santa Monica Repertory Theater
Jen Bloom directs and produces plays, events, short films and other fun and thoughtful things in Los Angeles. She is a Resident Director at Santa Monica Rep, and teaches on the Acting Faculty at American Musical and Dramatic Academy-Los Angeles. She has been fortunate to teach classes and workshops for children and adults, and create cross-disciplinary arts curriculum all over Los Angeles and Rhode Island (her home state), for organizations such as the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, Rhode Island Hospital Department of Psychiatry, Brown University, USC, UCSB, UCLA, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, and American Jewish University.
Pacifico Dance Company
Lorena Meza was born and raised in Santa Ana, California where she began dancing Mexican folklorico. She became the captain of Segerstrom High School’s Championship Song/Pom Dance Team and was the president of the SFHS Ballet Folklorico Club on campus her senior year. She then went on to attend California State University, Fullerton while simultaneously taking her dance career a step further with Pacifico Dance Company. Since then, she has focused on taking master workshops under renowned folklorico maestros from Mexico to further her knowledge in Mexican folklorico and zapateado while continuously exploring other dance styles. Select performance venues include Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, John Anson Ford Amphitheater, Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Valley Performing Arts Center, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Meza was also part of the original cast of Disney’s California Adventure “Viva Navidad Street Parade” and has returned to perform every year since its opening in 2012. Meza hopes to share her beautiful heritage with audiences near and abroad through dance performances that explores Mexico’s beauty.
Nick Massouh has served as the Director of Impro Theatre School for the past nine years, is a founding member of Impro Theatre and a main stage performer. Over his tenure he has designed the CORE curriculum, a 4 workshop series, as well has established a conservatory program focused on developing the skills of narrative and genre improv. In January of 2016, Nick created Impro’s Studio Theatre, dedicated to the development of narrative improv and creating a space for the main company to devise new genres and for the students to practice their craft. Nick also works in the mental health industry and has over 7 years’ experience with life coaching and using improv as a form of therapy. He is also an actor and director for both stage and screen. Nick graduated from the University of Southern California with a BFA degree in acting and has made Los Angeles his home ever since.
Violinist Reina Inui is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and studied in Los Angeles at the Colburn School with Robert Lipsett and Sheryl Staples. As the Concertmaster of the Colburn Chamber Orchestra, she was featured on KUSC live broadcast playing Vivaldi’s Winter Concerto. Inui toured Los Angeles schools as a soloist on numerous occasions with the Zipper Orchestra conducted by Dr. Herbert Zipper. Inui has previously held positions with the Buffalo and Virginia Symphony Orchestras and has performed with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Philly POPS, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Currently she is on the violin faculty at the Brentwood School and the Sol-La Music Academy in Santa Monica.
Santa Monica Repertory Theater
Tanya White is a published poet and a favorite contributor to storytelling events in Los Angeles. She is a core-member of Santa Monica Repertory Theater. In April she was named a Santa Monica Fellow and awarded funding for production of her play 7 CONVERSATIONS ABOUT SLAVERY.
Santa Monica High School, SMMUSD
A native Angelino, Pete Barraza is a graduate of UCLA and teacher at Santa Monica High School, where he currently teaches AP Literature and California Literature. Pete has also served as a faculty member in the English Department at the Punahou Academy in Honolulu, HI, where he taught an honors American literature course focused on the works of John Steinbeck, as well as a Jazz Era literature course developed to provide students with opportunities to explore the relationship between literature, history, visual arts, and music. Inspired by his continuing faculty position for the NEH Steinbeck Institute for educators, Pete developed and piloted the Steinbeck Youth Institute in the fall of 2016, a scholarly and experiential initiative rooted in academic inquiry and application. In the spring of 2018, the SYI published its first academic creative journal, The Hour of the Pearl. Outside of the classroom, Pete continues to work as an educational consultant, primarily working to support AP English teachers. He has been a member of The College Board’s Academic Committee for the western region, serving as chair of the committee in 2011, where he worked to create both policy and strategies to enhance academic achievement for all students.
Center Street School, ESUSD
Rebecca Wright is an elementary music teacher at Center Street School in El Segundo, CA. She is also the conductor of Cougar Choir whose membership includes 4th and 5th grade students who perform in multiple school and community events. In 2016, she was honored by her peers and named Teacher of the Year at Center Street School. Rebecca has lived and traveled extensively throughout the world and taught on the faculty of international schools in Berlin, Germany and Shanghai, China. She received her B.A. Double Major in Anthropology and Music at George Mason University and her M.M. at UCLA. While the majority of her performing experience has been in classical music, she plays a variety of world instruments as a result of her independent study and travel. Her main objective as a teacher is to develop and deliver curriculum that opens young minds and hearts to a wide spectrum of musical experiences, instilling a lifelong appreciation of music. Rebecca’s personal interest in cultural understanding and social justice issues are woven into her classroom instruction.
University High School, LAUSD
A westside local, Rosaisela Lomeli started her teaching career at Westchester High School before transferring to University High School. During her two decades with LAUSD, she has taught all levels of English, but enjoys teaching freshmen and seniors. Rosaisela’s relationship with The Broad Stage began after a colleague invited her class on a fieldtrip. With cutbacks in the arts, she believes it is essential to expose students to the performing arts. Rosaisela enjoys collaborating with others and working with The Broad Stage’s Education & Community Programs department.
Lincoln Middle School, SMMUSD
Sharon Klein Hart has taught English Language Arts and Social Studies for more than 25 years as a teacher at Lincoln Middle School in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. She is currently the professional development teacher leader for her site and a Los Angeles County teacher leader for the organization, Facing History and Ourselves. Sharon enjoys creating curriculum units that combine ELA, social studies, and social-emotional learning. She has participated in many curriculum development workshops including “Celebrating the 325th Anniversary of Bach’s Birth in Leipzig, Germany: a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute” (What Would Johann Download?); UCLA’s History-Geography Project (When Worlds Collide: African Slavery and the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1492-1789); and UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center (Fostering Social Emotional Growth in Yourself and Your Students). She was also pleased to serve as a teacher consultant for the Broad Stage’s SPEAK: Tap and Kathak Unite lesson plans.
Dena Elementary, LAUSD
Yomy Lopez is an elementary educator and folklorico dancer whose family is originally from Nochistlan, Zacatecas. Yomy attended the University of San Francisco and Cal State University, Los Angeles where she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development. She received her teaching credentials through the LAUSD intern program, graduating as one of its Golden Apples. She has worked at Dena Elementary School, LAUSD since 1994. In 2002, she received National Board Certification. She has served as both a lead teacher and professional development presenter throughout her years as an educator. As a dancer, Yomy started dancing folklorico in seventh grade by watching her teacher rehearse with her performance group. Later, Yomy’s teacher would invite her to be a member of the performance group where she performed folklorico for over ten years. Currently, she introduces folklorico to more than 50 students every year hoping to inspire new dancers.