Meet the people who help your kids shine.
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Meet the people who help your kids shine.
Founder & Director
Aaron received his BFA in acting from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Experimental Theater Wing with a minor in child psychology. While maintaining a successful writing and performing career, he worked promotions for a major record label, coordinated special events for a bustling NYC hot spot, and even appeared on CBS’ The Amazing Race.
True fulfillment, however, was discovered in working with children and families and he dedicated himself to teaching full-time. After a year in San Francisco apprenticing at the prominent California Street Preschool, Aaron took his newfound appreciation of the Reggio Emilia teaching philosophies and moved back to NYC. He then spent 6.5 years as the head teacher at The Educational Alliance’s Parenting and Family Center of the 14th Street/Sol Goldman Y in Manhattan’s East Village, where he developed and taught classes for children ages 1-5 and their families, as well as helped to run the department. Most notable was his popular 2×2 program, a year-long bridge class for 2 year olds, the success of which helped to solidify his reputation.
Since then, Aaron has consulted and taught for a variety of businesses including the JCC of Manhattan and Citibabes, where he held the position of creative director and head teacher. Among other responsibilities, he created, implemented and ran CitiSchool, a renowned preschool program. Aaron’s multidisciplinary background directly affects his approach to early-childhood education and is evident in the classroom. His energy and passion, combined with his arts-based curriculum, have inspired both children and adults for years creating an outstanding reputation and large client following. Both his popularity and visibility in the community have lent themselves to securing him a local “celebrity status” with children, parents, and caregivers. Aaron’s stature as a respected and savvy educator has also been recognized by the global children’s publisher, Scholastic. He sits on the Teacher Advisory Board to the school Book Clubs, is an invited educator to the Scholastic Early Childhood Summit, and continues to help the company keep their finger on the pulse of what is happening in the urban early-childhood classroom. Aaron lives in Sag Harbor and Manhattan with his dog Sevi.
Emily holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Long Island University and an MA in Communication Arts from New York Institute of Technology. Originally hailing from Colombia, Emily loves to bring her globalized and multi-cultural background and native Spanish tongue into everything she does! She has worked in theatre, multimedia production, content creating, podcasting, and as a Spanish interpreter and teacher. She has a passion for education and loves creating for and sharing with children. Emily has been with Shine since 2016 and helped create Shine’s Listillos program – Shine’s original literacy and creative-based Spanish classes. She especially loves designing custom scavenger hunts for Shine’s unparalleled parties and events.
Curriculum & Operations Consultant
Sarah received her BFA in Art/Education from Manhattanville College and her MFA from College of New Rochelle, where she studied under artists who work in a variety of mediums such as printmaking, sculpture, and watercolor. Having experienced and learned about different techniques, Sarah focused on how to apply this knowledge in age appropriate lessons for all children with a focus on early-childhood education.
As an undergrad, Sarah interned in the education department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. She later worked as the Children’s Programming Director for 8 years at Citibabes, a private facility in SoHo, NYC. During this time Sarah created and implemented a variety of classes specializing in the arts. Sarah then spent three years working as the Director of Strong Start, a reggio emilia program in Connecticut, where she developed an authentic art curriculum that focused on fine artists and techniques.
Sarah consults on curriculum development for a variety of programs and continues to work on her own art inspired by nature, working mainly in watercolor and printmaking. Sarah lives in CT with her husband, son and daughter.
Social Media Consultant
Laura is a professional dancer turned social media extraordinaire! Laura graduated from Tulane University in 2015 with a degree in Communications. After working for a boutique marketing firm for two years and moving across the country to pursue her passion for musical theatre, Laura created her own social media business to combine her creative mind with her learned marketing and business skills. Whether it’s in the dance studio or out on the playground, Laura is forever inspired by kids and their fearless enthusiasm for fun and play.
Social Media Consultant
Jayme’s interest in family and parenting issues took shape in college during her time as project manager on youth-related topics for the K-12 Coordinated Health Department at the Diocese of Tucson. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a MA in Near Eastern Studies, she moved to Manhattan and shortly thereafter found herself immersed in the kid-world of New York City. She worked as the marketing coordinator for a private family membership club in SoHo, where she was the editor-in-chief of their blog and bi-annual magazine prior to becoming a social media consultant for NYC children’s companies and schools like Shine, Dental Associates for Kids Only, and Green Ivy Schools. When she’s taking a break from keeping up with the latest NYC kid trends and events, you can find her at her day job – hanging out with dinosaurs at a prestigious cultural institution on the UWS.
Crystal has taught at Third Street Preschool in NYC’s East Village as a Lead Teacher for the past ten years. She is happy and proud to say she worked for Aaron before that at Citibabes. She is the mother of two children and a dog named Snuggles. Crystal is currently pursuing her Master’s in Early Childhood at Hunter College. She has also dabbled in acting.
Anita found a passion for dance over 25 years ago and has been pursuing it ever since. She started her career as a dance and theatre educator when she moved to the East End 10 years ago. It was there she founded a non-profit theatre education and performance organization, Our Fabulous Variety Show, and has produced over 40 works on stages from the John Drew Theatre at Guild Hall in East Hampton to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, as well as site specific and virtual original pieces.
Anita originally studied dance at Opus Dance studio in Ashland, Ohio and was a founding member of their Tap Company. She has trained at Broadway Dance Center, Steps, and FlamencoVivo in NYC and currently trains with her mentor, Riverdance’s Aaron Tolson. Anita brings technique, history, and stories from these classes to her own work, spreading the joy and importance of tap to her students.
A native of the East End, Holly is finishing her degree in Early Childhood Education here on Long Island. She has worked at Julie’s Storybook, iCamp, as a babysitter, and even crated her own tutoring business during COVID, Billie’s Homeschooling. When not in school or teaching, you can find Holly baking, hiking, and looking for adventure. With a passion for life and love of nature and art, Holly brings an authentic spirit to her work with kids and believes no one or nothing is too small to SHINE!
Musician / Educator
Carolina is a high energy drummer, percussionist, and DJ based in New York. She is the creator of “Drumanity”, a rhythm and movement workshop for adults and children that uses positive affirmations to increase self-confidence. She performs regularly in the Hamptons, New York City and was recently a featured artist at Envision festival in Costa Rica with her project Mila Tina. She also performs regularly with Dan Bailey Tribe, Abracadabra Field Trip, and Outernational.
Allison earned her degree in Early Childhood Education and has been working with children professionally for the past 15 years. She always thought she would be a classroom teacher but quickly fell in love with the advantages of individualized instruction. Allison has been a nanny in Manhattan/Sag Harbor for the same family since 2015. She was an Art Major at The Mary Louis Academy and puts her creativity and artistic touch to anything she can. She played competitive sports in both High School and College. Her free time is spent with her nephew and niece or out on Fire Island
Musician / Educator
Will is a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter, guitarist, and children’s musician. Originally from Connecticut, he graduated from UConn with a degree in business and music. For the past five years he has worked with multiple kids programs including Kidville, Stomp and Shout, Sunny Songsters, and most recently, Shine! Will also has his own original band under his name, and plays guitar in a few different NYC bands, including AOFine, and Imperial Cities. Will is passionate about writing music, performing for kids, and playing his guitar.
Anastasia received her Bachelor’s degree in education from Moscow State Regional University. She then moved to Shanghai and pursued a Master’s degree from Shanghai University in teaching Mandarin as a foreign language. She is very passionate about working with young learners ranging from pre-K to middle school. Anastasia has been working as an educator in Moscow, Shanghai, and New York for over six years and believes in creative and fun ways of educating children. She is passionate about language study and is fluent in English, Mandarin, and Russian. In her free time, Anastasia loves traveling, reading, playing piano, and taking her dog Moby to the park.
Musician / Educator
Jess has been facilitating music and movement with children and their families in NYC as Jesse Jams for over a decade. When she’s not rocking out with her guitar at birthday parties, Jess is a board certified occupational therapist for the NYC Dept of education. She utilizes her diverse background in the performing arts and expertise in childhood development to create a unique and engaging experience for adults and children alike!
Christina has been working with children in a variety of settings for over fifteen years. After graduating from Furman University with a B.A. in Art History/Studio Art and graduate work in Museum Education at George Washington University, she worked in the art departments of Princeton University and The Parsons School of Design and as a Photo Research Editor at Redbook Magazine. It was while her son and daughter were growing up, however, that she found her true passion was working with, nurturing, and being inspired by children in creative environments. She spent countless hours as director, prop mistress, and scenic designer in their school district’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts and eventually became a teacher at a Montessori pre-school and the Long Island instructor for a mobile art studio. Presently she is an Art Specialist for The Central Queens Y where she conceives of, develops, and teaches art classes in an after-school program at various elementary schools throughout NYC. Chris credits growing up in the Hamptons, surrounded by the stunning landscape and beautiful natural light, for instilling in her at a young age an innate connection to the arts and is thrilled to begin her association with Shine as an instructor in the summer Hamptons pop-up camp.
Emilie received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance at Connecticut College in 2017. Though the focus of her studies was in dance, Emilie found interest in Human Development and French, both deepening her passion for people and culture. Emilie took a semester off from school in the Fall of her Junior year to live on her own and dance in Paris, France. She credits those few months as the most rewarding and adventurous experience of her life. Her time away also taught her how the arts bring people together in such welcoming and open-minded ways. More recently, Emilie became a certified children’s yoga instructor, giving her the opportunity to teach and spread her love of movement to the next generation. On her free time, Emilie loves being outdoors, whether walking through scenic Central Park, or the serene beaches in East Hampton, NY.
Brandee is a Pre-K teacher originating from Michigan, with a specialty in the creative arts & science. She is the owner/operator of her own bath bomb & crafting company Smartz&Craftz LLC, and has been a Hamptons local for over 20 years! During the school year, you can find her teaching Pre-K at the Ross school, and specialty music & art classes throughout the Hamptons.
Meredith is a creative play specialist and focuses on movement and music in early childhood programs. For over ten years she has taught, developed curriculum, and served as a consultant for play programs throughout New York City. Meredith received her BA in Theatre Arts at Barnard College/Columbia University. In addition to teaching, Meredith partners with the PJ Library Foundation to promote early literacy through a storytelling program and also writes and performs original music with her family project Sweetbeatz: soulful songs for city kids.
Meredith is a dance enthusiast and studies Caribbean Dance and culture in NYC. She is a featured vocalist with Oyu Oro Experimental Dance Ensemble.
Meet our advisory board.
Francesco is an accomplished publisher at Penguin, running Penguin Workshop, an imprint he developed over his 14 years at the company.
Highlights of Francesco’s publishing career include working with such notable authors as Arthur Laurents, Anne Rice, and Michael Crichton. He developed and oversaw the marketing and creative campaign for the final book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the launch of which broke every sales record in the publishing industry. He’s also worked on bestsellers like Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors picture book, Giada De Laurentiis’ Recipe for Adventure series, Henry Winkler’s Hank Zipzer books, Jessica Hisch’s Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave, and Ann Hood, whom he had the privilege of calling his writing mentor while studying at NYU, on many middle grade novels.
Currently, Francesco is working on the third book in his new graphic novel series, The Pathfinders Society. He’s worked on the board of 826NYC, Dave Eggers’ nonprofit organization, dedicated to supporting children develop their writing skills. He’s involved with Prep4All, a nonprofit group that works to get affordable medication into the hands of those that need it. And he’s written and directed interstitials that appeared on NBC Saturday Morning, Telemundo and Qubo, aimed at helping children discover the joys of reading. In 2019, Francesco Executive Produced the Emmy-Award winning The Who Was? Show on Netflix.