The Board of Directors meets throughout the year to plan and oversee the events and services that NYSTEA provides to its members. Our Board is an active board, chairing and participating in our many committees. Our bylaws are available for our members’ review, and we welcome your questions and comments.
Mark Solkoff is an Assistant Principal at Academy of American Studies in Long Island City, Queens where he sponsors the Academy Players, International Thespian Society Troupe #5824. Since 1997, Mark has led an Improvisational Theatre Club at the Academy which has participated in nineteen NYSTEA student conferences and has hosted the NYC Region’s Share Your Drama Power in 2000, 2003, 2005, and 2006. Mark and the Academy played host to the state-wide NYSTEA Educators’ Conference in Fall, 2013.
Mark has worked to enhance the theatre program at the Academy, teaching an acting class that works in tandem with a playwriting class taught by his colleague. The program produces a monologue showcase in the fall and a dialogue showcase in the spring with students performing works written by their peers. Additionally, Mark has co-directed the school’s first musical–You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in 2008, followed by Working in 2009 and Celebration 2011.
Before teaching social studies and theatre in high school, Mark taught middle school for seven years where he designed and implemented I.S. 77’s theatre program. 2016 marks the beginning of Mark’s 20th year as a NYSTEA member. He has been on the Board of Trustees since 2002, chairs the Constitution Committee, was Secretary for six years and proudly serves as NYSTEA’s president. He truly believes in the power of theatre to perform and transform!
Jessica Mazo has her BFA in Acting from Syracuse University and her M.A. in Educational Theatre K – 12 from New York University. She also has studied at The Globe Theater in London, England, and at The Stella Adler Studios in New York City. Currently, she is Performing Arts Content Lead at a middle school in Brooklyn.
Jessica loves teaching where she lives, and connecting with her community. Past directorial experiences include: “Once On This Island”, “Guys and Dolls”, “Cindy and Julie”, “A Lonely Impulse of Delight”, “Clue”, and “Grease”.
Jessica has been a presenter at the NYSTEA Student Conference, as well as a member of that committee for the past five years, and is on the NYSTEA Student Playwriting Committee, Nominating Committee and Student Scholarship Committee. She attended the NYSTEA Student Conference, as a student, in the early 2000’s. Jessica is beyond excited to be a part of the Board of NYSTEA.
Kristie is the Theatre Teacher at Indian River High School where she has developed a sequenced program in Theatre, directs 3 productions per year and coordinates the Thespian Honor Society. Some of her favorite directing credits include: Shrek, The Yellow Boat, Bocón, Once on this Island, Seussical, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Miracle Worker, And a Child Shall Lead, Doors, You Can’t Take it with You, The Women of Lockerbie, Almost Maine, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Laramie Project and The Diary of Anne Frank. Several of her productions have received Awards of Excellence in Directing from the Theatre Association of New York State and Awards of Excellence for Outstanding Production at the Michael J. Harms Theatre Festival. She has enjoyed teaming with Third Eye Theatre to provide a variety of ASL interpreted productions for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in her community.
For over 20 years, Kristie has been the New York State Theatre Education Association (NYSTEA) State Education Liaison/Curriculum Chair working with Theatre curriculum development, assessment and certification. She was the chair of the committee that developed the Theatre Resource Guide in collaboration with NYSTEA and the State Education Department. In addition, she has worked with the State Education Department on the Arts Assessment project and the development of the Theatre Certification Exam. Most recently, she was selected as Chair for the Theatre Standards Revision Team as well part of the Blue Ribbon Commission for the Arts at SED. Most recently, she was named the Chair for the newly formed Arts Content Advisory Panel for the NYS Education Department.
Her Theatre program was recognized as the Educational Theatre Association’s Outstanding School in 2007. In 2012 she was awarded the National Reba R. Robertson Award for Outstanding Theatre Teacher. She was thrilled to have been a part of the American High School Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2013 and looks forward to returning again.
While assisting with a play at Westport Central School, Jim Carroll rediscovered a love of technical theatre that started when he was in Middle School. Challenging a severe case of stage fright, he made his acting debut as Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors for Essex Theatre Company in 2005.
Still more comfortable behind the scenes, Jim has been Technical Director or provided support for over 150 shows since 1998 with the Boquet River Theatre Festival, Essex Theatre Company, Westport Drama Club, Depot Theatre, and the Community Theatre Players in Lake Placid, as well as some independent projects.
Jim and his family run Westport Marina. In addition, he runs OvertimePhotoBooth.com. Jim is a member of the Board of Trustees for The Depot Theatre, an Equity house in Westport, NY. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Boquet River Theatre Festival, the Strand Center for the Arts, as well a long-time member of the Westport Central School Board of Education.
Holly Adams has been an actress and Teaching Artist for many years, and believes art is how we connect to, process and understand our world, each other, our communities, our living, our dying; art makes us think and invest emotionally, art is the medium by which we can re-imagine our world and make change.
As a performer and SAG-AFTRA member, Holly divides her time between stage, screen, circus, and audiobook narration. Performances include creating and performing work with physical theatre company Kakeru (known for it’s productions of Museum Trip and Raven Brings the Light and Other Tales), such films as “Here Alone”, “In the Bag” and “Anomie”, and lots of Shakespeare! Holly has been nominated for an Audie award for one of her audiobooks, and her clowning takes her lots of places on Earth, including Afghanistan, Italy, Australia, Russia and Canada.
Holly is also a passionate teaching artist; recent projects include working with girls in Kabul for the Afghan Children’s Circus and with a fledgling Theatre Company in Balan, Haiti. Holly’s work as an artist-in-residence for schools and universities links academic and arts curricula while addressing socio-cultural challenges. Holly is a graduate of Dell’Arte School of Physical Theatre, and holds a master’s in Theatre, Education, and Social Change. She is also a recipient of the Association of Teaching Artist’s Teaching Artist Service to the Field Award and the Hangar Theatre’s Tom Niederkorn Award. Holly is the Artistic Director of Shearwater Productions and is on IMDb as Holly Adams III.
Jim Brannigan is an English and Drama teacher at Smithtown High School West (located on Long Island). In addition to directing and writing, he is a member of AEA (Actors’ Equity Association) since 1996 he has performed in theatres around the country. Before turning to education, he worked as a Director of Entertainment for a theme restaurant corporation, as well as handling multi-million dollar accounts in marketing and public relations.
Frank Danko has been working with NYSTEA since 2006. He has served the NYSTEA membership as a board member since 2009 and the Treasurer from 2012-2016.
While studying and pursuing an acting career, Frank worked as the Assistant Administrator and Technical Director for a private Musical Theatre and Acting Academy on Long Island, NY.
Frank later went to work for an IATSE Union Production Rental company. During this time, he was instrumental in developing a Technical Theatre Training Program, sending professional IATSE Stage Hands into schools to work with students on Lighting Design, Audio and Rigging.
Currently, Frank works as a manufacturer’s rep and design consultant throughout New York and New Jersey.
Flori Doyle has been a member of NYSTEA since 1997 and served as the Hudson Valley Regional Rep prior to coming on the board in 2010. Flori earned her BFA in Acting-Directing from Ithaca College and holds a MAT, with a concentration in English, from Manhattanville College.
Flori completed coursework in theatre history and criticism at New York University and in film production at the School of Visual Arts. She acquired NYS certification in Theatre Arts in 2006 and is part of the education program with Manhattan Theatre Club. Flori has also participated in The Hagen Teacher Training at HB Studio in NYC.
Part of the Educator’s Conference Committee in 2005, Flori served as the Educator’s Conference chairperson in 2009. Presently, she chairs the Student Playwriting Committee and works on the Student Conference, Student Membership, and Adjudication Committees. Flori also regularly sponsors students for NYSTEA’s Annual Student Conference and has taught a variety of workshops from acting styles to yoga.
After a 30 year hiatus from acting, Flori has joyously returned to the stage, recently performing as Clara’s Grandmother in The Nutcracker and Violet Weston in August: Osage County. A certified Spin instructor, Flori is an avid cyclist and a triathlete.
Jim Goodenbery is a music and theatre teacher at Carthage Central Schools where he directs three productions per year. Recent directing credits include The Cherry Orchard, Mary Poppins, Almost, Maine, and The Music Man. He has performed as an actor and musician, regionally and professionally, across the state. Some favorite roles include Dick Deadeye (HMS Pinafore), Gaston (Beauty and the Beast), Smudge (Forever Plaid) and Robert (Company). He has served as clinician for New York State School Music Association festivals as well as fight choreographer and guest conductor for county festivals. He also serves on the board of directors for Watertown Lyric Theatre.
Diana Gruninger is currently working at Kenmore West High School as a Theatre Instructor. She is continuing to build upon the program which includes a four year sequence as well as International Baccalaureate Theatre. She participates in the University of Buffalo’s Band Against Bullying with her Advanced Theatre students and is working in conjunction with the local police department to bring student troupes to school assemblies to address matters of bullying.
Diana has been directing plays at the high school level for 16 years. She also works on the regional level to provide students with the opportunity to participate in the ESU Shakespeare Competition. She had the wonderful opportunity to work on the Educator’s Conference with the Western NYSTEA committee. She is currently working on the NYSTEA Student Conference Committee and is looking forward to continuing her work in providing a safe, creative space where students can truly appreciate that Theatre does, in fact, transform lives.
Paige Hardison has been teaching theatre at the high school level in the Levittown Public School district since 2002. She has been teaching music for the past 26 years, the first 5 of which were in Tonawanda and Wilson (in NYSTEA’s western region) before coming to Long Island where she has taught for the past 21 years at both General Douglas MacArthur High School and Division Avenue High School.
Paige is a native of Ransomville, NY in Western New York. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance and Music Theory from the Fredonia School of Music (SUNY College) in 1984, and completed her Music Education certification there in 1985. She earned her Master of Music degree in Music Theatre Performance from Arizona State University in 1989, and received her Kodaly Certification from the Hartt School of Music in 2003. She became certified in Theatre Education in 2008.
Paige has taught Theatre I and Performance Theatre classes for the past 14 years, and has directed and/or vocally directed musicals and plays, both extracurricular and class-based, every year of her teaching career, including having directed the first high school production of “Flight of the Lawnchair Man” and the first high school and New York production of “The Perfect 36”. She has also been advisor to the Thespian Chapters at MacArthur and Division Avenue High Schools for 5 years.
Paige has been a member of NYSTEA since 2005, and has attended the Educators conferences most years since that time, has brought students to the Student Conference, and served in the following capacities: Educator’s conference committee in 2006; reader for the Student Dialogue/ Playwriting contest several times; and Curriculum Committee since 2014. Several of her students have been winners in the playwriting contest. Paige is currently serving as a member of the Arts Standards Revision Theatre team, which has met throughout the summer of 2016 at the State Education Department in Albany, and which will continue its work throughout this year.
In addition to her activity in NYSTEA, Paige has also been active in other arts education organizations, including NYSSMA and Nassau Music Educators association, for which she has served as all-county chorus chair, vocal jazz chair, and Vice-President of the Jazz Division.
Augustus Jacobson has a BS in Educational Theatre K-12 from New York University. He has also studied at the Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center, focusing on long-form improvisation and sketch comedy. Currently, he works as a freelance teaching artist and is the Teaching Artist in Residence at the Lighthouse Youth Theatre in Westchester County.
A physical actor and ‘harlequin’ by trade, past stage performance credits include: “Hamlet,” “Henry IV Part 1,” “MacBeth,” “School for Scandal,” Durang’s “Beyond Therapy,” and “Cyrano de Bergerac.” Screen credits include appearances with “Saturday Night Live” (NBCUniversal) and “Master of None” (Netflix).
Augustus has been a presenter at the NYSTEA Student Conference, as well as a member of that committee for the past four years, and serves as the coordinator for the Third Year Ambassador Program. He attended the NYSTEA Student Conference as a student at Byram Hills High School in the early 2000’s. Augustus is beyond honored to serve on this Board with such passionate and generous theatre-makers.
Jay Pecora is Associate Professor of Theatre at SUNY Potsdam and director of the Theatre Education Teacher Certification program.
A former President of NYSTEA, Jay received his BFA from the Theatre School at DePaul, his teacher certification in social studies from Hunter College and an MA in Urban Education from the Graduate Center CUNY. His PhD is from New York University in Theatre Education.
As a professional actor and director, Jay worked in LA, Chicago and NYC. While at SUNY Potsdam Jay has directed Funnyhouse of a Negro, The Good Woman of Szechwan, Anon(ymous), The Wrestling Season, Romeo and Juliet, and Topdog/Underdog, as well as devised several plays in collaboration with students. One such production, Project Homecoming, represented the United States at the International Drama in Education Association conference in Hong Kong.
Tony Ravinsky is the chorus teacher at Cornwall Central High School. He received his Masters of Music at the University of Connecticut and his Bachelors of Music from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.
Tony is currently the Cornwall Central School District’s Music Department Chair while directing a Women’s Choir, Male & Female A Cappella Groups, Mixed Choir, and Select Chorus at Cornwall Central High School.
He is the Director and Technical Director for the school’s Drama Club, where he has been honored several times for his outstanding set designs. Tony is currently the Past President of the Orange County Music Educators Association and was honored to conduct the Suffolk, Dutchess, Ulster, Rockland, and Sullivan County All-County Choruses along with conducting throughout Europe.
Outside of his teaching position he participates in several area community theater companies both on- and off-stage. He also had a small stint as a carpenter for New York Stage and Film at Vassar College. Tony is an active member in the New York State School Music Association, and the American Choral Director Association. Tony has been a sponsor of NYSTEA since 2004, and participated in NYSTEA conferences as a student in the late 90’s.
Adam Shatraw is currently the Choir and Theatre Director at East Syracuse Minoa High School where he conducts three choirs and produces two productions each year. Previously he worked at Byram Hills High School in Armonk, NY where he directed over 30 productions and taught classes in Theatre and Theatre Tech. In 2010, he received the Teacher Recognition Award for Byram Hills HS.
Adam holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, a Master of Arts from Teachers College at Columbia University and is pursuing his CAS in Educational Leadership at Syracuse University. He served as the NYSSMA Zone 11 Representative for five years and is a Co-Chair for the annual NYSTEA Student Conference.
Adam strongly believes in the power that theatre has to reach students, create community and affect the lives of all who share in the group experience. It is central to his teaching philosophy that theatre, and all of the fine arts, must be included in the education of all students in order to produce strong 21st Century thinkers.