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933 Hopmeadow Street
Simsbury, CT 06070
Phone: (860) 651-3361

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Meet Your Teachers

Shannon M. Gagne

I am inspired by transformations in nature. The ritualistic process of creating helps me to be conscious of internal and external changes. My sculptures are meant to capture the cyclical essence of growth and the decomposition of life.

My work represents a fusion of things found in nature, such as a growing fetus, a spinal column, a rib cage, fingers, teeth, insects, tree roots, an unraveling fern, or a budding flower. The body of work thematically reflects a family unit and the relationships within. The unpredictability of smoke firing allows the sculpture to take on a life of its own. The forms are children of the mind inspired by the children created by my body.

B.F.A. Maryland Institute College of Art M.A.L.S. Wesleyan University Visual Arts Educator: Simsbury, CT.

Vicente Garcia

Vicente Garcia currently serves as Professor of Art at Central CT State University. His primary functions involve many professional responsibilities. As a teacher, he provides students with a thorough knowledge base in ceramics, from basic clay construction to wheel-throwing to advanced students working with glaze calculations and firing techniques. He finds promoting students’ creativity as well as the development of their technical skills important.

As a practicing artist, he creates and exhibits a body of work that shows the unity between clay and steel. He enjoys sharing his artistic accomplishments with others through Visiting Artist presentations and Artist-in-Residence programs that he does with various school districts.

Vicente Garcia
Studio Garcia
10 Crescent Way
Simsbury, CT 06070
(860) 651-7148

Matt Ryan (Cartooning)

Matt C. Ryan is a talented cartoonist and comic book artist whose work spans from the comics industry to package design and advertising. Matt has been a member of the Farmington Valley Arts Center faculty and was named Master Teaching Artist by the Greater Hartford Arts Council. He is part of the Hartford Performs Programs and has won best workshop from the Comic Book Artists Guild. Matt's company, Free Lunch Comics has published many books including the popular Food Fight and  King of the Monster Mountain, a comic and strategy game where you create and battle monsters.

Eric Dahlin (Cello)

Eric Dahlin, assistant principal cellist of the Hartford Symphony, began his musical training in Minneapolis with Cynthia Eddie Britt, former assistant principal cellist of the Minnesota Orchestra. He continued his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Derek Simpson, acclaimed cellist of the Aeolian String Quartet. He received his B.M. from the Hartt School where he studied with David Wells and received an M.M. from the Yale University School of Music where he studied with Aldo Parisot and was recipient of George Houpt Knight Award for Excellence in String Playing.

Eric won a position in the HSO during his second year of undergraduate studies and later won the position of assistant principal. For the season opener in 2006, he played the solo cello part of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with guest soloist Sarah Chang. The Hartford Courant praised the continuo playing as “extraordinary” and noted that “Chang frequently turned to fix upon principal cellist Eric Dahlin creating high intensity exchanges and precise rhythmic co-ordinations.” Eric has served as principal cellist of the Cape Cod Symphony and Summer Music at Harkness. He performs with Orchestra New England and the New Haven Symphony.

An avid chamber musician, Eric has performed extensively in the US and Europe. Locally, he can be heard playing with Hop River Chamber Players, Wall Street Chamber Players in New Haven and Loomis Chaffee’s Island Chamber Players. In addition to playing with Sunday Serenades, he performs frequently on the Trinity College Summer Series and Sundays at the Parlor on Park with Gary Chapman, pianist and long-time chamber music partner. Eric spent five summers at the Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival in Vermont.

Teaching is an important part of Eric’s life and he maintains a studio at the Hartt School and at his home. His students have won numerous competitions including top prizes at HSO Concerto Competition and CT MTNA Solo Competition, and gone on to receive performance degrees from top conservatories including Manhattan School of Music and Oberlin College Conservatory. Eric is founder and co-director of Music Adventure, a summer chamber music program which, during its 13 year history, has convened in Croatia, Austria and Italy. Currently, Music Adventure hosts programs for high school string players and adult cellists at Tenuta di Spannocchia, a historic agricultural estate in Italy, near Siena.

Eric lives in Tariffville with his girlfriend Katie, also a cellist, two sons Martin and Elias, and dog Max.

Charlotte Whitman-Logan (Cello)

Charlotte Whitman-Logan has been active as a performer and teacher in the greater Hartford area for over 10 years. She holds a bachelor of music education degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where she studied cello with Peter Rejto, and a Master of Cello performance and Suzuki cello pedagogy, where she studied cello with Terry King and Suzuki cello pedagogy with Pamela Devenport. As a chamber musician, Charlotte participated in the performance 20/20 honors chamber music program while a student at Hartt, and has studied with members of the St. Petersburg, Colorado, and Miami String Quartets. As a cellist she has performed in many different venues, including an appearance on the 2013 season of “America’s Got Talent” in which she performed with the Connecticut based group “the Three Penny Orchestra and Chorus.”

As an educator, Charlotte has had varied experiences, from private cello instruction to arts administration. She has taught students age four through adult in cello, orchestra, and general music settings, and for two years headed the arts department at an arts-focused charter school in Hartford. Currently Charlotte is the orchestra director at King Philip Middle School in West Hartford, where she conducts the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade orchestras, as well as the select ensemble, Beaux Strings.

Michael Hunter (Artistic Director, Theater)

Michael Hunter is the artistic director of the SAA Summer Theater Academy. He brings 20 years of experience and a great sense of humor to the job of working with young students. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Arts from Plymouth State University, N.H. He has a passion for teaching acting techniques, script analysis, and stage combat to students of all ages. Michael has directed, designed, and technical directed hundreds of productions all over New England.

Jessica Ludorf (Fashion Merchandising)

Jessica Ludorf is the assistant general manager merchandiser at Gap in Avon Marketplace. She received her associates degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, and then continued her education at Central Connecticut State University and earned her bachelor's in Marketing. Throughout her eighteen years, she has held many visual merchandising positions in Connecticut and was a stylist at the flagship Gap store on 54th and 5th ave in NYC, while attending F.I.T. She has been a lead merchant during many new store openings throughout the nation, and in Canada. Jessica is a graduate of Simsbury High School, and resides in Simsbury.

Dan Rosenthal-Baxter (Ceramics)

Dan Rosenthal-Baxter grew up in West Hartford and still has the clay bear he made in his third grade art class.  The bear’s name is Jerry. Since third grade, Mr. Rosenthal-Baxter has exhibited nationally as a potter and painter. In addition to making art, his favorite things include trips to Disney World, reading, learning new things, science, algebra, writing children’s books, Smurfs, talking about his own three children, and, of course, teaching art!

Kathryn-Ann O’Brien (Master Teaching Artist)

Kathryn-Ann O’Brien coordinates Global Arts for the SEED program here in Simsbury and is excited to be teaching for SAA. She was a graphic designer at The Hartford for 13 years, and recently realized her dream of becoming certified to teach art through the Alternate Route to Certification. She spent this summer teaching for the SPHERE program in Hartford and is teaching at Avon High School this year.

KA paints portraits in watercolor, pastel and oil. She is fascinated by the way a portrait can express the essence of a subject’s personality in a manner that virtually no other format can. She holds a BA in fine arts from Regis College in MA.

Katarina Szekelyova-McKinney (Fashion Design)

Katarina Szekelyova-McKinney possesses a BFA in drawing from Arizona State University. She studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New   York City, and the Rhode Island School of Design. She has worked in the fashion industry as an art director and textile designer. Katarina is currently completing her art teaching certification coursework at Central Connecticut State University. She is very excited to be leading the fashion design program at the Simsbury Arts Academy this summer.

Saturday Morning Art Exploration Interns

"Saturday Morning Art Exploration" is an exciting class for students in grades Pre-K through Grade 3 to explore a variety of art media. All activities focus on stimulating creative, physical and social growth. SAA interns are a contributing factor to the popularity of the class! (L to r) Top row: So-Hyeon Park, Hayley Maher, Alexa Moon, Tim Gaffey. Bottom row: Dyedra Gillespie, Toby Black. Not Pictured, Samantha Brown and SAA Director Cindy Rehm.

Arielle Solomon (Choreography)

Arielle Solomon graduated magna cum laude from The Hartt School, where she earned her B.F.A. with a Major in Dance Performance and a Minor in Entrepreneurship. In addition to the reputable faculty at The Hartt School, Arielle also enjoyed working with choreographers including Charlotte Griffin, Loni Landon, Takehiro Ueyama, Doug Varone and Adam Barruch. She has performed in Jose Limon and Doris Humphrey repertoire, renditions of Petrushka and Carmen and works by Stephen Pier and Katie Stevinson-Nollet. She also performed at the American College Dance Festival in a piece by Chris Lafleche. She made her professional debut as a featured dancer in Hartford Stage’s production of Twelfth Night. Having traveled to Europe to work with diverse artists such as Ultima Vez from Belgium and other artists from Paris, Norway, India, and San Francisco, Arielle could not be more ready to share her knowledge with others. This summer, she will join a choreographic residency at The Dirt Salon in Hartford for the Now Unboxing Project, envisioned and directed by dancer/choreographer Spencer Pond. She’s very excited to be choreographing for Simsbury High School’s production of The Wizard of Oz as well as to be teaching ballet to the dancers at the Evjen Academy of Performing Arts this summer.

Anne Berry (Strings)

Cellist Anne Berry is active both as a performer and teacher. In May of 2012, Anne graduated with her Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Hartt School of Music. Anne is currently a faculty member at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, and Three Rivers Community College where she teaches chamber music, music theory and music history. This season, she has performed concerts with the West End String Quartet. She is also co-founder of the Hartford-based chamber music ensemble, the Living Room Players, that performs throughout the greater Hartford region. In Winter of 2009, Anne performed with the Ganesh String Quartet tour in France. In 2007, she served as cellist of the piano trio in residence at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She was also the grand prize recipient of the Duquesne University Women’s Advisory Board competition in 2003. Anne holds degrees from the Hartt School of Music, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Duquesne University, and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Jessica Meyer (Strings)

Currently an active performer and teacher in the Hartford area, Jessica Meyer, violinist, is a founding member of the West End String Quartet, a group that strives to bring new and uncommon repertoire to their concerts pairing them with traditional works. Ms. Meyer also performs with the Springfield, Hartford, and New Haven symphony orchestras as well as with Infinitango, a Hartford based tango band. Ms. Meyer is a registered Suzuki violin teacher, teaching at the Hartt School of Music, and is also a chamber music coach at the University of Hartford and Wesleyan University. She coached the Pernambuco trio, who was awarded first prize in the 2011 Rayburn Chamber Music Competition. Ms. Meyer received her MM at the University of Hartford in violin performance with an emphasis on Suzuki pedagogy and her BM from Texas Christian University. In addition to playing the violin, Ms. Meyer enjoys gourmet cooking, playing soccer and spending time at the beach.

Kaela Crystal (Strings)

An accomplished Violist, Kaela Crystal possesses a Bachelors Degree in Music Education and is currently completing her Masters in Education from the University of Connecticut. Ms. Crystal is a former student of JoAnna Ferrari, an Alumni of Simsbury High School and served as a Simsbury Arts Academy Intern in String Education for three consecutive years. Ms. Crystal has provided private lessons for many students within the Greater Hartford Area. The Simsbury Arts Academy is thrilled to announce that Ms. Crystal will serve as our Strings Academy Coordinator this summer as well as provide Viola lessons.

Dr. Carl Knox (Jazz)

Carl W. Knox received his Bachelor of Arts degree from William Penn College (currently William Penn University), a small Quaker school in Oskaloosa, Iowa, noted for its distinguished jazz studies program. In 1981, while at William Penn, he was awarded the Outstanding Soloist Award at the prestigious Elmhurst Jazz Festival. Following graduation, Dr. Knox accepted a teaching assistantship at Northeast Missouri State University (currently Truman State University) and taught saxophone and clarinet and directed the jazz combos. As a member of the NMSU jazz program he won Outstanding Soloist and Outstanding Musician awards at the 1983 and 1984 Wichita Jazz Festivals and the 1984 Kansas City Jazz Festival. In addition, he appeared as guest soloist with both the NMSU Wind Symphony and Orchestra. After attaining his Master of Arts degree from NMSU in 1984, Dr. Knox moved to St. Louis and began a teaching and performing career that lasted until he began his doctoral studies at Michigan State University in 1993. His career includes numerous appearances with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra on both clarinet and saxophone, and countless jazz concerts and tours with famed jazz artists including Doc Severinsen, Toshiko Akiyoshi and Lew Tabackin, Bobby Shew, Louis Bellson, Clark Terry, Rob McConnell, Jon Faddis, Marshall Royal, and Snooky Young. Carl also performed regularly with the St. Louis Jazz Orchestra, the River City Saxes, and his own group, The Carl Knox Quartet, which was featured at The Riverfront Jazz Festival.

Dr. Knox has played with many major touring shows in Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Detroit and performed or toured with jazz artists and groups including Mel Torme, Jimmy Heath, Milt Hinton, Marcus Belgrave, Benny Carter, Branford Marsalis and The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. In addition, Carl served on the faculty of The Clark Terry Summer Jazz Institute, and performed in Clark Terry’s “BIG BAD BAND.”

Dr. Knox currently serves as Director of Jazz Studies and teaches Applied Saxophone at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU), where he directs the highly acclaimed CCSU Jazz Ensemble and teaches a variety of courses, including jazz history, jazz improvisation, woodwind methods, and jazz history and chronology. Dr. Knox is Director of Simsbury Public Schools’ “Big Band” and program leader of the SAA summer Jazz Academy.

Ed Fast (Jazz)

Since 1995, Ed Fast has been involved in a variety of musical projects throughout CT, NY and around the world. Most recently, Ed was the drummer on the national tour of Chicago, and he recently performed with Chita Rivera on the national tour of A Dancer's Life. In New York, he performed on Broadway as the drummer for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at Radio City Music Hall and as a sub for Chicago. Ed also performed with Broadway touring shows in Moscow, China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan. He was Music Director of the Hartford-based youth group, Latin Flavor, at the Havana International Festival of Jazz (Cuba).

In the Hartford area, Ed has performed with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and at the Mohegan Sun Casino with such stars as Aretha Franklin, Charo, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Paul Anka and Martin Short. Ed has performed at the Bushnell with many national Broadway tours including Wicked, ShowBoat, Music Man and West Side Story. Ed is the leader and founder of Conga-Bop, a Latin jazz ensemble.

Ed studied with Alexander Lepak and holds a B.M. and M.M. from the Hartt School of Music. He is a constant presence in Simsbury’s school district. Ed has been a faculty member of SAA’s Jazz Academy since its inception, and he has served as a resident teaching artist in Jazz. Currently he supports diversity in our schools by performing with his band Conga–Bop at each Simsbury elementary school and by teaching several after-school workshops.

Jason Stammen (Performing Arts, Music Direction)

Jason Stammen is the Music Director of SAA40, Musical Theater Academy. He is excited to return to Simsbury Art Academy for his fourth summer. Previous shows with SAA include, Into the Woods Jr. and Little Shop of Horrors. He had also music directed The Little Mermaid for Henry James Middle School and Bye Bye Birdie for Simsbury Summer Theater. In addition to teaching voice lessons at both Loomis Chaffee and and Westminster Academy, Jason owns and operates his own private voice studio in Tariffville. Jason is a member of the professional choir, CONCORA and has preformed several principal opera roles including Sam in Trouble in Tahiti, Baron Puck in The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, and Collatinus in the Rape of Lucretia. Jason received his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance for Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio and his Master of Music in Vocal Performance for the University of Connecticut where he studied with Dr. Constance Rock.

Jill Paterson (Acting)

Jill Paterson is SAA’s dynamic acting teacher. She teaches theatre arts at Avon's middle and high schools and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Roger Williams University as well as a Master of Education from University St. Joseph. Ms. Paterson is looking forward to working with all of her creative SAA students.

Faria Sultana (Pottery & Clay)

My name is Faria Sultana and I received my Bachelors in Fine Arts, concentrating on Ceramics and a Minor in Business Management and MIS.  I now maintain the ceramic studio at CCSU assisting Professor Vicente Garcia. My passion in in this field has progressed overtime and it gives me pleasure to teach others the knowledge I have possessed in my training.  

Leah Coloske (Pottery & Clay)

My name is Leah Coloske. I am currently a senior studying Art Education at Central Connecticut State University, while also serving at Chili's in Simsbury, CT. My passion for ceramics and art as a whole has grown over the years, and I hope to soon achieve my goal of teaching art at an elementary level while continuing to practice my own ceramic pottery career. 

Dave Holzman (Visual Arts)

To learn more about the artist and his work go to

Melinda Daetsch (Music Skills Specialist)


B.A., Harvard University
M.M., The Juilliard School

Biography: Melinda Daetsch received a Master of Music in viola performance from The Juilliard School, where she was the recipient of numerous honors including The Juilliard School CH Lewin Scholarship, the Irving Rucken Scholarship, the Spear Memorial Scholarship, and the National Endowment Scholarship. She also holds a BA with honors in comparative religion from Harvard University where she was a recipient of the John Harvard Scholarship and the Mary Agassiz Award for academic achievement. During her four years at Harvard, she worked closely with composer and chamber music coach Leon Kirchner. At Juilliard she continued her chamber music studies with Juilliard Quartet member Samuel Rhodes, where her quartet received acclaim from The New York Times for their performance of Arnold Schoenberg's seldom heard work Ode to Napoleon on the FOCUS! Festival of Contemporary Music. Ms. Daetsch has also studied chamber music with Felix Galamir, Paul Docktor, Raphael Hillyer and Glen Dicterow. Her primary viola teachers were Karen Ritscher and Karen Tuttle.

An avid performer, Ms. Daetsch has performed at numerous festivals such as the Yehudi Menuhin International Festival (Switz), The Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada), the Rutger's SummerFest, and the Strawberry Creek Festival (California). She is currently the chamber music coordinator and principal violist for the Music at Penn's Woods Festival at Penn State University, and is a frequent chamber music collaborator with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra at "Music from Gretna" and at the Luzerne Music Center, where she is also on the faculty. She is a guest violist with the Philadelphia Piano Quartet and has been guest artist with the DePasquale and Everest string quartets. In addition, Ms Daetsch has held titled chairs with the Pennsylvania Centre Chamber Orchestra, the Colgate Orchestra and the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra (NY), where she is also on the orchestra's artistic advisory committee, and has performed with the Riverside Symphony (NY), Bern Kammerorchester (Switz), Syracuse Symphony, Charleston Symphony (SC), and the Key West Symphony (FLA).

Ms Daetsch was recently on the faculty of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania and served for many years as the string director for the State College Suzuki Program and Central Pennsylvania Youth Chamber Orchestra. Since 1998 she has led two successful European concert tours of young musicians from State College and organized a special concert at Ground Zero for the children of a New York City public school. Ms. Daetsch, who is also on faculty at the Community Division of The Hartt School, is passionate about teaching as well as performing, and has served as a guest artist and clinician at string workshops and festivals both abroad and in the United States

Jared Gardner (Guitar & Bass Teaching Artist)

Jared Gardner began studying piano at the age of 7 and later took up guitar and bass. A versatile musician, Mr. Gardner has played with punk rock bands as well as jazz ensembles and is a former member of Sacramento-based folk group Ain't Betty. Mr. Gardner went on to study jazz and classical bass and holds a BM in bass performance from CSU Sacramento and a GPD from the Hartt School, where he was on scholarship as a member of the Performance 20/20 chamber music program and a student of Robert Black.

As a freelance musician in northern CA, he has frequently performed with Modesto Symphony and Stockton Symphony, and he was a founding member and principal bassist for the Academy at All Hallows. Mr. Gardner has also performed with the Monadnock Music Festival, the Sacramento Philharmonic chamber music series, and The Hartt School faculty chamber music series.

Susan Powell, (Bass)

Susan Powell is a bassist with over 30 years of experience in teaching and performing. Her love for the bass began at the age of 9 in the public schools. She graduated from the Juilliard School with a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Music Performance. She was also awarded the Frederick Zimmermann Memorial Scholarship award while there. Her major teachers included Fred Zimmermann and Homer Mensch. She has also studied the Suzuki teaching method for bass with Virginia Dixon at the University of Wisconsin.

Ms. Powell has performed with many orchestras and chamber ensembles, including the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, as Principal Bassist for many years. Others were the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Bridgeport Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Orchestra New England, and the Lake George Opera Festival. Currently, she plays with the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra, other area groups, and subs with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She joined the Hartt Community Division faculty in 2007 and enjoys teaching students from beginner to college levels. All ages are welcome to learn with the Suzuki or traditional methods of teaching. Susan also teaches at the Loomis Chaffee School and Rosemary Choate Hall. Before moving to Connecticut, she taught at Vassar and Bard Colleges in New York, SUNY in New Paltz, and at the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina during the summers. She is an energetic and committed teacher who also enjoys coaching the Hartt Community Division Bass Ensemble which is open to any bassist wanting to perform with others who love the beautiful sounds of the bass!

Sarah L. Mauro (Vocal Music)

I AM A MUSIC EDUCATOR, COMPOSER, and BLOGGER based in the Hartford, CT area. I earned my B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and my M.M. in composition from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After teaching through various institutions over the past several years, I decided to earn my teaching certificate. I recently completed the Alternate Route to Certification in Hartford, and am now fully eligible for my certification in Music PK-12 (049). My professional career goals include becoming an upper school music teacher, creating opportunities for student composers and conductors, and writing music for schools, the stage, film, and the popular realm.

I recently completed my student teaching assignment, teaching chorus and music technology at Avon Middle School in Connecticut, I'm actively pursuing a career as a middle or high school music teacher (I specialize in chorus and general music) in Connecticut or Massachusetts. I'm looking for a position at a school where I can champion diverse arts opportunities for all students in music, dance, theatre, and art. 

A hard-working, dedicated, and creative professional, I'm excited to tackle challenges surrounding arts education today and help young people build confidence and leadership skills through participation in the arts. It would be exciting to design new multi-disciplinary courses integrating the arts with core subject areas- I believe that education becomes more effective through the synthesizing of different subjects and skill sets. 

In my spare time, I love to read, watch old movies, exercise, blog, craft, and sing. On my list of life goals, I've included learn to speak Italian and German, backpack through Europe, grow my own food, write a Top 10 hit, and write movie scores for Pixar.

Photo by Hilary Mauro

2016-17 SHS Activities Calendar

NEASC completes dicennial evaluation of SHS Read final report | press release

Help our Child Development 2 classes get authentic experiences! Now seeking children ages 3-5 for Little Sparkles Playschool April 20-June 8

SHS Student Art Show
May 30, 31 & June 1

SHS Student Fashion Show
May 30, 6:30-7:30PM

2017 Scholastic Art Award Winners


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