2019 CONFERENCE PRESENTERS

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Eric Baylin

Eric Baylin has taught art to students of all ages over a span of fifty years. He is currently in his 36th year of teaching at Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn. He is also a long time meditator and a teacher of meditation, as well as a Courage and Renewal facilitator, a role that draws on the work of Parker Palmer. He created and has taught a course at Packer for the last five years entitled “Life’s Big Questions,” designed as a seminar for high school seniors. He attended Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill and the San Francisco Art Institute.


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Chris DeRoller & Mike Clark

Chris DeRoller and Mike Clark are the youth program directors at Powell House, a Quaker conference and retreat center in upstate New York. For the past two decades, they have designed and facilitated retreats for 4th to 12th graders that emphasize creating spaces where each person can be themselves and allow/encourage others to do the same. The retreats work on developing emotional literacy, situational awareness, and fostering a joyful creative environment. As part of the program, Chris and Mike provide training to teen volunteers and young adult co-facilitators in group process and community building. Drawing from their experience with the youth program, they facilitate workshops for adults on creating authentic community with multigenerational groups.


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Hayley Ferber

Hayley Ferber is a visual art administrator, educator, and practicing artist from Brooklyn, NY. Her mission is to initiate and support creative opportunities for artists and the community through collaborative partnerships by providing the tools and techniques to guide artistic exploration. Hayley graduated from New York University with a BS in Studio Art and went on to the Rhode Island School of Design for her MAT in Visual Art & Design Education. Since graduating, she has been in educational leadership, administrator and arts educator roles at prominent schools and private institutions across New York City. www.hayleyferber.com


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Emma Hatton & Julian Wright

Emma Hatton has been in the field of early childhood education for over ten years, working with children ages 2.0 to 5. She has a BA in Childhood Education from Pace University and an M Ed. in Early Childhood Education. She currently works at Washington Market School in Tribeca with young twos.

Julian is an associate teacher at the Washington Market school practicing a Montessori and Reggio-Emilia inspired philosophy of education. Originally from Louisville, KY, he now calls New York City his home. Julian recieved his B.A. from Colombia University where he was a 2016/2017 Uihlein Undergraduate Teaching Fellow for “Freedom and Citizenship”. He is also the founder and publisher of an independent publishing company Literary Public Corp.


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Alexander Kopelman

Alex is the Co-founder, President & CEO of Children's Arts Guild. Alex is a writer and advocate who has devoted twenty-five years to advancing social justice and personal empowerment. He has a special passion for supporting young people in overcoming the limiting effects of outmoded societal stereotypes on individual development. Alex brings a wealth of experience in gender-specific youth development, having served as the Director of Marketing of Girls Inc., the premier girls’ empowerment organization in the US and Canada, for over twelve years.


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Karen Levenberg & Annabelle Baylin

Karen Levenberg has been an early childhood educator for the past 15 years. Prior to teaching she helped establish early literacy and school-based health programs in administrative capacities. A particular interest is introducing young children to science and art and observing their discoveries as they construct knowledge through play and exploration within an emergent curriculum. Karen holds a master's degree in early childhood education from Brooklyn College, a master's in public health from Hunter College and a BA in studio art/art history from Oberlin College.

Annabelle Baylin has taught PreK, Kindergarten, and 1st grade at both the Packer Collegiate Institute and Blue School. A born-and-raised Brooklynite, Annabelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mindfulness in Education from NYU and is completing her master’s in Early Childhood General and Special Education at Brooklyn College. Some of her passions as a teacher include: bringing mindfulness into the daily routines of the classroom, facilitating an emergent curriculum, early literacy, having conversations about social justice with children, and making music.


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Mark LaRiviere

Mark has been training teachers in the art of authenticity for over twenty years. In 1997 he developed the Creative Classrooms program to train and place working artists in inner-city parochial schools around New York City. Mark co-founded the Children’s Arts Guild in 2010 to help children develop their authentic selves through creativity education. As Chief Program Officer, Mark has built the Guild’s Boys’ Arts Express and Girls' Arts Express after-school programs, expanded Creative Classrooms to include both public and private schools, and created a variety of authenticity-based creativity workshops for teachers, administrators, and parents. Currently, these programs reach over 9,000 children annually. When Mark isn’t in the classroom, he produces his own art and regularly shows his work in galleries and museums.


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Maya Projansky

Maya has taught fourth and fifth grade for fifteen years in a dual-age classroom at the Earth School/PS 364 in the East Village. She emphasizes social-emotional learning to develop a strong classroom community. Maya uses mindfulness, classroom discussions, writing, and shared texts to create a space where students feel safe taking risks and bringing their whole selves to learning. She structures her classroom to maximize student choice and independence in learning. Maya is a Teacher Consultant with the Hudson Valley Writing Project @ SUNY New Paltz, where she co-facilitates Leadership in the Teaching of Writing, an advanced invitational institute for educators of all ages and disciplines who want to develop expertise in writing instruction and serve as leaders in their school communities. Maya was a 2015 Finalist for the Big Apple Award: Recognizing Teacher Excellence in NYC. She received her Masters in the Science of Education at Bank Street College of Education. Her undergraduate degree is from SUNY Empire.


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Donna Socha M.Ed, MA, LMHC

Donna M. Socha, is a Clinical Instructor and faculty member in the Expressive Arts Therapy specialization at Lesley University. Her area of academic focus is the professional development of expressive arts graduate students through clinical supervision. Ms. Socha’s work has focused on adolescent and adult development, use of metaphor, sand tray therapy, and using creative expression to encourage expression and heal trauma. Ms. Socha has provided expressive therapy counseling in a variety of settings including residential schools for teens, a college counseling center, a partial-hospitalization treatment program, and an intensive out-patient program for substance abuse (IOP).


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Corazon Tierra, MA, RSME

Corazon Tierra is a dance educator, Somatic Movement Educator, interdisciplinary dance artist, poet and writer. She has spent the past two decades creating experiences that blur the boundaries between art and life, and between personal transformation, education and community healing. Her main emphasis is to provide a joyful and non-judgmental atmosphere where children and adults feel safe and confident to express their authenticity through dance. In her role as Master Teaching Artist with Leap, Corazon teaches creativity, collaboration, communication, literacy and critical thinking skills through dance and somatic movement.


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Sandra E. Timmons

Sandra became President of A Better Chance in 2003. A Better Chance’s mission is to increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color who are capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society.  Since 1963, this guiding principle has driven A Better Chance to place talented young people of color into the leadership pipeline through increased access to academically rigorous secondary schools. 

 Its signature College Preparatory Schools Program annually recruits and places more than 500 new Scholars and supports 2,200 Scholars enrolled in leading college preparatory schools across the country.  Over the course of the last 58 years, A Better Chance has been a driving force in the effort to increase educational attainment among youth of color.  Its record of success is evident in the more than 16,000 Alumni who have become great innovators, thinkers and leaders in their respective fields.  Their success is a direct result of the educational access that they received through A Better Chance.

Since taking the helm, Sandra has significantly strengthened A Better Chance to increase the number of students it serves and enrich the overall student experience.  She has reaffirmed and invigorated relationships with program partners, accelerated fund development efforts and heightened A Better Chance’s visibility in many communities.


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Mike Wesolowski and Taylor Marie Frey

Taylor and Mike are writers and educators. Their debut book, Two Trains Leave Paris: Number Problems For Word People, is a book of word problems with an abundance of comedy. Taylor has worked as a mentor and instructor for children and adolescents with learning differences. She has struggled with math her whole life. Mike has worked as a math teacher and tutor, with a focus on SAT & ACT prep. He was mostly an A student in math. They have performed sketch comedy in NYC for several years.


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Cara Zelas

Cara Zelas is the Founder of The Kindness Learning Company. Cara is an educator and author of Big World of Little Dude, an educational platform teaching children social and emotional skills, as seen at the New York Public Library and The Little Wing.  Cara Zelas is an educator from Sydney, Australia residing in New York. Cara received her Bachelor of Media Communications and Bachelor of Elementary Education Degrees as well as an Early Childhood Montessori Certification and is an active volunteer with The Good Dog Foundation. www.worldoflittledude.com @worldoflittledude cara@worldoflittledude.com