Meet the people who help your kids shine.

Aaron Goldschmidt

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 Tafur

Operations Coordinator

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.

Allison Kavanagh

Parties & Events Manager

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

Alissa Dabrowski

Studio and Events Coordinator, Educator

Alissa recently earned her BFA in Theatre Performance with a minor in psychology from the University at Buffalo. Having a passion for learning has driven her to gain knowledge of various interests such as: gymnastics, cheerleading, dance, yoga, tennis, piano, ukulele, sewing, knitting, cooking/baking, and more. Alissa’s love for educating children has come from growing up with younger cousins for whom she would often help care. The opportunity to work at Shine is the perfect setting for her to use and expand her creativity. She’s always found with a smile on her face, after talking with Alissa you too will be smiling.

Jayme Taylor

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 children’s companies and schools like Shine and Dental Associates for Kids Only. 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 Bock


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.

Aidan Crowley


Aidan is a year-round Sag Harbor resident with a few different hats to wear. Growing up out east and attending Pierson until graduating in 2017, he continued to Suffolk Community College for an associates in Visual Arts. While trying to be consistent with building his own portfolio of paintings as an independent artist, he’s found many job outlets for himself such as working as production in the film industry, ocean lifeguarding the beaches of bridgehampton in the summers, or co-running private sports and swimming programs for all ages of kids. You’re likely to find him most active in his free time when out skateboarding, with or without his group of friends.

Carolina Fuentes

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.

Will Leet

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.

Shine Educator

Anastasia Lew


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.

Jess Nacinovich

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!

Alley Peters


Alley is from Mattituck, NY and earned a BA in Psychology with a minor in Health, Medicine and Society from Stony Brook University. She plans on applying for nursing schools to eventually become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.  Alley’s love for children started at a young age when her mom used to nanny. She has been around kids her whole life, from babysitting for 12 years to nannying for 4 years. She enjoys being active and pushing her boundaries by trying new activities and hobbies. In addition to a new found passion for painting as a way to relax, she also loves traveling, hanging with her friends, baking, and trying out different recipes,  A dancer for over 11 years, Alley still has a love of movement and dance and enjoys helping children get out of their heads and into their bodies. Her energy and positivity make her and everyone around her shine!

Christina Sahr


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 Stoll


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 Torakis


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 Wright


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 Sedita

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.

Arianne Udell

Advisory Board

Arianne Udell is co-Founder and Vice-President of Razor Rank™, a digital marketing company currently serving national and local law firms, doctors of all practice areas, startups, franchises, niche businesses, and some of the largest eCommerce brands in the country. Arianne is also a member of The Florida Bar and maintains a solo practice in the state.

 Arianne began her legal career at the height of Florida’s housing crisis in 2007. As an associate attorney of a Personal Injury firm, Arianne soon received a real-life crash course in Real Estate Finance law when Florida became known as the Foreclosure Capital of the country. For the next two years, she appeared in court daily on behalf of the banking institutions who could barely keep up with the high volume of pending motion arguments set before judges and an unprecedented backlog of cases yet to be filed. It was a grim time for Arianne, who eventually left the practice and relocated to New York in search of a more fulfilling career. She found that opportunity when she partnered with a Westchester entrepreneur and SEO visionary. Together they started their first company, Legal Marketing Innovations. LMI served large mass tort law firms involved in plaintiff litigation against Big Pharma. As co-Founder and Chief Editor of LMI, Arianne researched, developed, commissioned, edited, and optimized all articles that appeared on these sites. These articles helped form the basis of lawsuits that led to multimillion-dollar verdicts in favor of the victims of dangerous drugs and defective medical devices. Over ten years and two companies later- Arianne is an expert SEO analyst, writer, and editor with a consistent record of earning Page One rankings and conversions for Razor Rank’s diverse clientele.

At her core, Arianne’s passion lies in the arts. A life-long interest in acting and performance led to an undergraduate degree in Theatre from Northwestern University’s prestigious School of Communication (f.k.a. School of Speech). Arianne is proud to join Shine’s exciting Advisory Board and witness more of the unexpected journeys, challenges, and successes that lie in store for the next generation and beyond.

Mike Rupp

Advisory Board

Mike Rupp is the founding principal of Rupp Studio, a New York-based interior design firm.  The studio is engaged in residential, commercial and product design.  Drawing from a diversified background in the design, fashion and service industries, Mike Rupp brings a unique perspective to his projects.  Each project is tailored to the individual client and aims to create an environment that reflects personality and enhances lifestyle.

Before opening Rupp Studio in 2019, Mike spent twelve years refining his skills at the helm of other multidisciplinary design firms.  One of his proudest achievements was realizing an award-winning boutique resort in Placencia, Belize.  He was critically engaged in all aspects of the project – brand identity; architectural development, overseeing construction, and furniture design. 

The continued momentum behind Rupp Studio is attracting projects in the Hamptons, Hudson Valley, New Orleans and Park City, Utah.  Mike’s work has been featured in various publications, including House Beautiful, Wall Street Journal, and Introspective Magazine.

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