Summer Academy Instructors
Position: Graphic Novel Writing / Fashion Illustration / Stop Motion Animation
Shawn Banner has been with the Summer Academy for three years and is a graduate of Oberlin College, Fashion Institute of Technology, and the Sage College of Education. He has been a freelance illustrator for over 20 years, serving a wide range of clients in the fields of fashion, book and magazine publishing, advertising, and more. In addition, he has worked as an arts educator for more than a decade, teaching budding artists from Kindergarten to College. You can find samples of his work at www.shawnbanner.com.
Position: Web Page Design / Computer Animation
Meredith has a MFA in Painting from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and an MFA in video art from Syracuse University. Her teaching certificate was earned at the College of St. Rose. She has been teaching art: including classes in Animation, advertising and design, AP art, film, and studio art for the last 10 years. She continues to make her own art work (video and painting) and exhibit locally and on line. This is her sixth year with The Summer Academy.
Position: Speech & Debate / Short Story Writing
Susan Brophy is happy to be back for her third year with the Summer Academy. Brophy received her Bachelors Degree in English from SUNY Brockport and her graduate degree in Secondary Education from The College of St. Rose. She has been teaching 8th grade English in the Waterford-Halfmoon school district for nine years. Because of her love for language and emphasis on the creative, (she was also a Theatre Minor in college) Brophy likes to encourage all her students to be eloquent, unique, and have fun.
Position: Graphic Novel Writing
Anthony Camarota graduated from the College of Saint Rose with his BS in Art Education with a concentration in painting and drawing. As a cartoonist, Camarota has been a member of the Times Union Comic Panel, quarterly working with the Times and other panel members to identify and discuss comic strip issues within the paper. He has also been published in the College of Saint Rose newspaper, the Chronicle, with a weekly comic that ran for two years. He is currently working on his Masters of Fine Art at the University of Albany and this is his second summer with the Summer Academy.
Susan L. Davis
Susan L. Davis is a licensed architect and the principal of SD Atelier Architecture, a firm that specializes in historic renovations, municipal projects, and custom residential projects. Some of the projects that SD Atelier has been involved with include: the Saratoga Springs Indoor Recreation Facility, the Seagle Colony Theater Building in Schroon Lake, Burnt Hills Veterinarian Hospital renovation, McDonald's and several residential renovations and custom new homes. Prior to establishing SD Atelier Architecture, Susan worked as a project Architect for FROST Architecture. Susan completed her internship in Connecticut and Westchester County NY where she worked on custom high-end residential projects. She worked abroad in Switzerland at an Architecture Atelier and studied French at the University of Lausanne. Susan completed her Architecture studies at Renesselaer Polytechnic Institute and this is her second year with the Summer Academy.
Position: Musical Theater Workshop (Co-Instructor with Melissa Firlit)
Ryan Dietz is an actor living in New York City and has taught for Applause New York, the T.A.G. Musical Theatre Clinic at Baldwin-Wallace University, Lake Performing Arts Youth Theatre and for the Hangar Theatre Lab Company. Ryan is a graduate of the prestigious Music Theatre program of Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory and is a member of Actors Equity Association.
As a performer Ryan has appeared in New York in 'A Wonderful Life' with Brian Stokes Mitchell and Judy Kuhn, 'Chess' with Josh Groban, Illyria & 'Rites of Passage' with Prospect Theater Company, with the The Talking Band, at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, Fringe Festival, as well as numerous readings and workshops for Theatreworks, The York, Second Stage, Abingdon Theatre Company, etc. Ryan also wrote and performed his own solo show, 'The Box Turtle Incident,' about being bullied in middle school,which premiered at The People's Improv Theatre this past fall. Ryan has toured both nationally and internationally in '1776,' 'All the Great Books' (Abridged) and as an original cast member of 'Disney's Villains Tonight' for Disney Creative Entertainment. Regionally Ryan has appeared at the Paper Mill Playhouse, Great Lakes Theater, Cleveland Play House, Riverside Theatre, Northern Stage Company, Hangar Theatre, Clarence Brown Theatre, etc. Film/TV: Celebrity Ghost Stories (Bio Channel), Target Audience (Showtime), The Joke, Office Jam and commercials for Twinings Tea and Virginia Lottery. For more visit: www.RyanDietz.net.
Position: Circus Arts
Sean Fagan wears many hats as the Artistic Director of Circus Theatricks, introducing young people of all ages to circus, theatre, and the visual arts in school programs, summer camps, after-school enrichment settings, and private coaching. When not teaching, he keeps a full schedule as a variety arts performer, working on stage, television, and the occasional feature film. A former Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus clown, Sean’s “theatricks” include a wide range of ground skills proficiency, including juggling, slapstick, pratfalls, stilt-walking, unicycle, rolling globe, rola-bola, tumbling, partner acrobatics, magic and more!
Seano worked for many years in South Florida where he had the opportunity to study with Jose Quintero, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Burt Reynolds. Their guidance and encouragement led him to relocate to New York City where he spent ten years working in the business. Since 2001, Seano has called the Capital Region of New York State home. He continues to work at many of the professional and community theatres in the area.
Early in his career he discovered his niche: “family entertainment and education through the arts.” He’s honored to have worked with the Walt Disney Organization, Nickelodeon JR. Television, and the national and international theatrical tours of Scholastic’s Magic School Bus Live. He has performed at the International Children’s Arts Festival in Singapore, on the streets in Holland, and at the Golden Week Family Festival in Liuzhou, China.
Abe has taught Sculpture for the Summer Academy for six years. Ferraro is a graduate of SUNY Fredonia (BFA) and SUNY Albany (MA & MFA). He has exhibited internationally and extensively in New York State, including solo performance / exhibitions at Artists Space in New York City, Fulton Street Gallery in Troy, Time & Space in Hudson, and Mercer Gallery in Rochester. He is in Art collections at the Albany Institute of History & Art, the University Art Museum, Monroe Community College, and the private collection of Paul Hobart. Ferraro has been the recipient of grants from NYFA and the Graduate Student Organization at SUNY Albany for research and travel. He was a resident Artist at Sculpture Space in 2006 and was their Endowed Chair Artist in 2010. Ferraro has received numerous awards for his Art, including Best in Show at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center’s Made In NY exhibition in 2010. He has been featured several times on YouTube.com and received the Departmental Award for Excellence in Sculpture from SUNY Fredonia. Articles about Abraham’s Art have appeared in numerous newspapers and international magazines including Climbing and UK’s Climb Magazine. He will be included in an upcoming book, Hyperdrawing, published by UK University Loughborough School of Art and Design. Ferraro’s Art has been featured on WNYT-TV Channel 13 News, Utica’s TV show Explore!, and WXXI TV Channel 21. Ferraro has taught at Cairo Durham High School, Columbia Green Community College, and currently is at St. Rose College where he teaches Sculpture 2 and is the Sculpture Technician, but has also taught Advanced Sculpture (Grad and Undergrad) and 3D Concepts at St. Rose.
Position: Improvisation Acting / Musical Theater (Co-instructor with Michael Walker) / Theater Dance Skills
Melissa Firlit is a director living in New York City. She has her MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. Her undergrad is from the University of Hartford. She also studied at The O’Neill National Theater Institute. She has taught various theater classes at The School at Columbia University, McCarter Theatre Center, Rutgers University, and The O’Neill National Theater Institute. She has recently directed Fries With That?, Bubba, Fabulation, Machinal, Solitary, Boom, Any Place But Here, Lone Star, Lost Persons, NJ One Minute Play Festival, Thanksgiving, That Stays There, Big League Chew, The Death of Evie Avery, A Nasty Story, By The Light Of The Silvery Moon, The Rise and Fall of Miles and Milo, Genius Andronicus, and 5 Women Wearing the Same Dress. She collaborates with the dance company Bodyart on the art of storytelling. This is her second summer with the Summer Academy.
Position: Medical Technology
This is Liz’s third year with the Summer Academy. She received her BS in Special Education and Childhood Education with an extension through 9th grade and is finishing her MSED in Professional Special Education, all at The College of Saint Rose. Currently, Liz is a Special Education Teacher at Ryder Elementary in the Cobleskill – Richmondville Central School District. Previously, Liz was a substitute teacher in several school districts in the capital region. In the past Liz has also served as Student President at both the local and state level for Council for Exceptional Children, a special education organization that works as an advocate for individuals with disabilities. Liz has just recently been elected for the 2011 - 2014 Albany Regional Representative for the New York State Chapter of Council for Exceptional Children.
Position: Digital Photography
Vincent has taught Digital Photography for the Summer Academy for four years. Giordano is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz (BFA) and SUNY Brockport (MFA). He exhibits his photography extensively in New York State. Vincent has taught at Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York, and at St. Rose College where he taught Intermediate Photo and is the Darkroom/Digital Photography Technician. Vincent owns his own Photography company (Trinacria Photo) based in Schenectady and has worked as a professional photographer for over 18 years. This is his fourth summer with the Summer Academy.
Position: Science Lab Assistant
Allison is originally from Queens, NY and she will be junior at The College of Saint Rose in the fall as a chemistry major with a forensics minor.
Position: Song Architecture & Construction
Joe Hetko worked as a freelance musician and private music teacher for more than 25 years. He has played a wide variety of music ranging from rock to chamber music, and has played in many musical theater pit orchestras. He is currently playing the guitar with Duo Dolce, and bass guitar with the Jim Sande Ensemble. He has written music for various bands and composed music for John Koethen’s Heldeberg Marionettes. Joe has been teaching music at The Doane Stuart School for the past nine years.
Brian Jensen Ph.D.
Position: Aquatic Ecology
Brian Jensen has a life long love of fish and all things aquatic. As an undergraduate student he studied the Trinidad jumping guabine, a little killifish that likes to be out of the water. As a Ph.D. student at the University of Delaware, he studied the mummichog, a durable little marsh killifish. Currently he works as an associate professor of biology at the College of Saint Rose where he teaches course like Marine Ecology, and studies the effects of pesticides on freshwater fish like the zebrafish.
Position: Automotive Design / Blog Writing
Deborah Killips has been an art teacher for more than 25 years teaching students ages 4 to 104. She is presently at the Shenendehowa School District where she is teaching grades 1 – 5. She has also taught animation, graphic design and video game design at the high school and college levels. Her freelance career is airbrushing motorcycles and helmets. Deborah has a bachelor’s degree from The College St. Rose and a master’s degree from Sage College of Education. She is excited to be returning to the summer academy for a second summer.
Position: Science Fiction Writing / Screenplay Writing
Josh Kohan graduated from the College of Saint Rose with his MS in English Education. He got his BA in Film and Media Studies from the University at Buffalo where he wrote and directed many short films. Josh continues to write screenplays and short fiction. A New York State certified English teacher for over seven years, Josh has taught English for two years at a Preparatory School in Pohang, South Korea, a higher needs charter school in New Orleans through the Teach Greater New Orleans program prior to Hurricane Katrina, and various public schools throughout the Capital Region. He is currently working as an English Composition Instructor at Hudson Valley Community College and SUNY Adirondack Community College. This is his first summer with the Summer Academy and he is very much looking forward to it.
(John) Fraser Lea
Position: Urban Planning
Fraser is an Architecture student entering his junior year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. With the Boy Scouts he has had four years experience as a wilderness survival and outdoor skills instructor for the Boy Scout Camp Wakpominee, as well as having earned the Eagle Scout honor in 2011. Fraser has had numerous other teaching opportunities as an NHS tutor, as a paid tutor for the Academic Resource Center, and as a religious education teacher assistant.
Angela Ledtke (Ryan)
Position: Theatrical Make-up Design
Angela has taught Summer Academy classes for seven years. She has received a BA in Theatre with an acting concentration from SUNY Brockport, an MA in Theatre focusing on history, criticism, and literature, and has 10 years of Classical Voice Training from Jane Gunter-McCoy at Eastman School of Music with Betsy Riley and Anne Agresta Dugan. She is currently a lecturer at The College of Saint Rose as part of their English Department, and at SUNY Albany as part of their Theatre Department. She is the Owner of Artique, an arts and craft co-operative located in Clifton Park. She received the Irene Ryan Award for acting and the Arts for Children Service Award from SUNY Brockport. Angela has 15 years baking and decorating experience, 6 years at Wegman’s bakery/patisserie, and was a former baker/pastry chef for The Century House.
Position: Musical Theater Workshop Accompanist
Daisy is pleased to be joining Summer Academy’s Musical Theater Workshop this summer. She is a Masters student at The College of Saint Rose in Music Education. Her undergraduate degree is from Shih Chien University in Taipei, Taiwan. She also holds arts, music, and teaching certificates in Taiwan where she taught public school art, chorus, and music. Recently she has worked on the Musical “Frankenstein, A New Musical” at RPI Playhouse in Troy, NY and serves as a woodwind teacher and Mandarin Chinese Instructor for HVCC. Daisy is also the recipient of various awards in Folk Vocal Songs and Piano in Taiwan.
Adrienne grew up in Greenfield Center and Saratoga Springs, New York. As an adult, she worked in San Francisco, California in high-end picture frame shops. She developed a passion for geology starting with her Introduction to Geology class at City College of San Francisco. Over the next three years she mentored Geology, Geography, Oceanography and Math at CCSF. She was also afforded the unique opportunity to work with talented professors at San Francisco State University and brilliant local high school instructors for SF ROCKS* (San Francisco Reaching Out to Communities and Kids with Science), a National Science Foundation supported program that works to improve the quality of science education for underrepresented middle school students.
Adrienne transferred from CCSF to University of California Santa Cruz where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology. After UCSC, it was on to Cornell University for a Masters Degree in Geochemistry with a focus on geophysical modeling under Jason Phipps-Morgan.
Since graduating from Cornell, Adrienne has worked in civil engineering analyzing soil samples for construction projects. She currently works at Great Hollow Wilderness School in New Fairfield, Connecticut where she teaches outdoor education which involves high and low ropes courses, team-building exercises and some days even outdoor rock climbing. Adrienne is also currently enrolled in a Masters program at State University of New York New Paltz to become a certified Earth Science high school instructor and this is her second summer with the Summer Academy.
Position: Digital Video Production
Ron has been teaching Summer Academy Video Production for twelve years. He obtained his Bachelors from The College of Saint Rose. He is currently working as an Educational Television Specialist for Albany City School District, a freelance videographer, and will be an adjunct teacher this upcoming fall at The College of Saint Rose. Ron has worked on a wide variety of video projects locally from Instructional Videos for Sterling Pharmaceutical to advertising for several local businesses. He also did principal camera work and the editing for a local sketch comedy show, 40 Whacks, that starred current Late Nigh host, Jimmy Fallon.
Position: Environmental Science
Susan has a B.S. in Environmental Biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry and an M.S. from Syracuse University in Science Education. In addition, she is a Nationally Board Certified teacher. She has taught science for over 20 years and currently teaches Living Environment, Honors Biology and Forensics at South Glens Falls High School. She has developed full year curricula for Forensics and Environmental Technology courses, with an emphasis on inquiry learning. She has also been an adjunct professor at SUNY Albany and Syracuse University. She is excited to have student hone their critical thinking skills through inquiry science! This is Susan's second summer with the Summer Academy.
Position: Pop Singing Workshop
Matt Olmstead comes to the Saint Rose Summer Academy with an extensive a cappella background. Currently, he is the bassist and co-creator of the professional vocal rock group, The Fault Line. Since the group began in 2006, they have received numerous awards and accolades. These include Cornell University's Lauren Pickard Award for Emerging Artists, First Place and Audience Favorite at the 2007 Harmony Sweepstakes Regional competition in NYC, and a spot in the top 20 finalists on Season 2 of NBC's America's Got Talent.
Matt's B.S. in Music Education from the College of Saint Rose has been an asset while leading a cappella workshops at various schools throughout the country. Workshop topics include vocal technique, a cappella composition, music business, stage presence, vocal improvisation and vocal percussion. Prior to The Fault Line, Matt sang with the professional a cappella group, Sons of Pitches and his alma mater's group, The Other Guys. While at Saint Rose, he also performed in the College's Masterworks Chorale, Chamber Singers, Madrigal Singers and Men's Glee Club. This is Matt's third summer with the Summer Academy.
Cophelia Pertez, VMD
Position: Veterinary Science
Dr. Cophelia Pertz is a graduate of the Veterinary School of the University of Pennsylvania. She interned at the Philadelphia Zoo and after 2 years in general practice restricted her practice to wildlife and exotic species, becoming the first staff veterinarian for the Utica Zoological Society. As well as serving in her clinical role at the zoo she initiated the zoo's veterinary technician summer intern program, served on the Advisory Board of SUNY Delhi's Veterinary Technician Program,and was the consulting veterinarian for the NYS Wildlife Rehabilitators Association. She has also been a sought after speaker for many local groups. In 2005 she left practice to join Teach For America, and taught high school biology and physical sciences. This is her first summer with the program.
Position: Athletic Training / Sports Leadership & Coaching
Korey Rogotzke has taught middle school math and science for 18 years and is presently working at Farnsworth Middle School in Guilderland. As a wrestling coach, Mr. Rogotzke, has taught the physics of human motion as part of strategy. He has a background in the study of human mechanics and enjoys the technical part of breaking down mechanics of specific sport activities. Korey graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead MN with an emphasis on science for his Elementary Education B.A. During his studies there, he enjoyed kinesiology courses which focused on the mechanics of human motion related to athletics. These courses and working with athletic trainers as a coach have allowed Korey to see firsthand how fundamental mechanics make all the difference with athletic performance. This course will stress the importance of learning proper techniques for sports performance with a variety of sports and how to train for peak physical strength and endurance. This is Korey's fourth summer with the Summer Academy.
Brenda Lee Saunders
Position: Small Business Management / Criminal Justic and Law
Brenda Lee Saunders teaches Business & Marketing Education (Business/Personal Law, Small Business Ownership, SUNY Adirondack Word Processing in Windows & Introduction to Business) and Family and Consumer Sciences grade 8 at Greenwich High School and is also the Coordinator for the Internship Program. She has been at Greenwich for ten years. In 2005, Brenda was recognized by the New York State Business Teachers’ Association as the Outstanding New Business Teacher of the Year, has been listed in Who’s Who Among Americas Teachers 2003-2007, and was the May 3, 2010, TCT/100.3 “Teacher of the Week”. Prior to teaching Brenda worked for over 10 years in the Health Insurance field as a Service & Sales Representative for WellCare of New York (an HMO), BC/BS of Northeastern New York and Delta Dental. While working full-time she obtained an AS from Ulster County Community College in Business Administration, a BS in Marketing and Management with Secondary Education certification from Siena, and an MA in Labor and Policy Studies from SUNY Empire State. This is her second summer with the Summer Academy.
Position: Sports Feature Writing / Radio Production
Steve has taught Summer Academy classes for five years. He has both his MA and BA from the College of Saint Rose. Currently he works as a Middle School Director at La Salle Institute in Troy. He was nominated for “Who’s Who Among American High School Teachers.” He was the former host and founder of The Sports Captain, a weekly sports comedy talk show, a former sports columnist for The Saratogian, and he was the former play by play/color commentator for the Saint Rose men’s basketball and Albany Colonie Diamond Dogs.
Olya Maria Szyika
Position: Graphic Design / Interior Design / Marketing & Branding
Olya has taught Summer Academy’s Graphic Design for five years and Interior Design for three years. She received a BA in Anthropology from SUNY Albany, an AAS in Graphic Design from Sage College of Albany, and a BFA in Graphic Design and concentration in Painting from Sage as well. Olya has operated her own design practice since 2001, specializing in print graphic design and visual communication. In addition to solving design problems for a range of clients, she spends a portion of her time doing pro-bono design work for not-for-profits and arts organizations. She has exhibited design, paintings, photography, collage and sculptures throughout the Capital Region. Olya has studied and continues to study art in various forms, both formally and through and independent research and experience. Her areas of interest include graphic design, painting, interior design, photography, computer art, jewelry design, quilt-making, drawing, collage, assemblage, sculpture, artist books, and papermaking. She enjoys the results of blurring the lines between various media and appreciates the results of experimentation as a form of learning.
Karen has a MS in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology from SUNY Albany, and a BS in Secondary Education Chemistry and a BS in Secondary Education Physics from SUNY Oneonta. She has been teaching Regents Chemistry for 14 years and is currently employed at Greenwich Central School. In the past, she has taught Forensics and Regents Physics. She has also been an instructor at the Summer Education Enrichment Program at Adirondack Community College. This is Karen's third year as in instructor for the Summer Academy.
Position: Stage Design / Scenic Painting
Christina Williams hails from the great state of Texas, where she received her Master of Arts degree in Scenic Painting and Set Design from Texas Woman’s University. Since moving to New York 5 years ago, Christina has kept very busy working as a freelance designer and painter, with works featured in places such as the Disney Aulani Resort of Honolulu (2011) and the International Fringe Festival of Edinburgh (2008). Currently, Christina works regularly for the C-R Productions at the Cohoes Music Hall, where she has painted and designed shows such as Guys and Dolls (2012), Once On This Island (2012), Wonderful Life (2011), Christmas Carole (2010), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2010), Sweeney Todd (2009) and Wizard of Oz (2009). Recently, Christina served as Scenic Charge Artist and Painting Instructor at Siena College for Heda Gabler (2012), Hamlet (2011), and Mouse Trap (2010). She also has taught props design and scenic painting for Long Lake Camp for the Arts during the summers of 2009 and 2010. In addition to her passion for theatre art , Christina absolutely loves teaching and is thrilled to return to the Summer Youth Academy for her second year.
Position: Science of Cooking
Bobbi-Jo Woodbury is currently the Science Department Chair at Notre Dame Bishop Gibbons School where she teaches Anatomy & Physiology, Earth Science and an on-line Nanotechnology course. She earned both her Bachelor of Science in Biology and her Masters Degree in Biology from SUNY Cortland. During her degree programs she led a joint field study with Cornell's Department of Plant Biology on the comparative genetics of forage crops. She has worked cooperatively with both Cornell Plantations and Cornell Cooperative Extension. She is an active member in both STANYS (Science Teachers Association of New York State) and PDK (Phi Delta Kappa). She has earned a Rising Star Internship from Dudley Observatory and she has challenged, educated and empowered girls as a Girl Scout Troop Leader. In closing, she is zealous about both science and cooking and her main goal is to encourage a deeper connection to the dynamic nature of science! This is Bobbi-Jo's third year with the Summer Academy.
Position: Aerospace Engineering
Bill is currently a junior at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy NY where he studies Aeronautical Engineering. He also holds an AA in Engineering Science. Bill also owns four horses at Three Winds Farms and shows on the upper level A circuit. In 2008 he started his own event management business called A.I.R. Show Jumping. He was Show Jumping National Champion in 2001 and 2002, Junior Olympic Gold medal winner in 2002 and Team Silver Medal winner. This is Bill's third summer with the Summer Academy.