KHAHTEE V. TURNER: Founder and Director
Khahtee V. Turner is a community leader, an educational visionary, and a humanitarian and advocate for the propagation of the arts, creative enrichment, and compassionate awareness practices and offerings in early childhood. As the founder and director of the Brooklyn, NY non-profit Studio Creative Play, for 14 years—alongside artists, musicians, and educators—Khahtee has lead a unique, comprehensive, and transcendent community experience. Through its mission, Studio Creative Play holistically nurtures the awakening and bloom of each individual’s voice and expressive capacity in the most sacred and salient time of formative development: early childhood.
Key to the rhythms and intentional extensions of Studio’s programming is the inclusion and embracing of the family, the parent, and the community in co-learning. For then, alongside our children and neighbors, we have so much more to offer to the peaceful evolution of our own world as we reach out to lead, exchange, and give of ourselves. For over 14 years, daily the Studio community has rejoiced and evolved through this philosophical approach predicated on the regular exposure to and immersion in learning through nature discovery, science, arts and design, and music. As a relationship-based program, the centerpiece of Studio’s whole and artful learning process is also rooted in the guidance of meditation that includes an open practice of joy, loving-kindness, and gratitude filled play.
As Khahtee has grown as a professional and leader she has also taken her program worldwide to share these foundations of nurturing creative consciousness and interconnectivity with our global neighbors. She has taken educational experiences and resources to remote and underdeveloped areas of Mexico and Nepal, and has shared resources and global community workshops during her visits to Icelandic schools. In alignment with the philosophical practices she’s developed over the last decade she’s also produced videos, online educational resources, and enrichment games and activities for families with young children.
Alongside the ongoing growth of Studio, in 2015 Khahtee founded The Roberts Field School, a kindergarten through 5th grade program, which she also directs. In building Roberts Field, she continues to maintain a fierce devotion to offer the community the tenets and practices of Studio, now through an interdisciplinary approach to elementary education.
In June of 2017, Khahtee will launch a new online program, How To Play, which offers weekly inspiration for finding simple, yet ubiquitous beauty and playful practice in all areas of our lives and environment, especially as it relates to and includes our children.
And in any morsel of her free time, Khahtee can be found running, surfing, playing cello, meditating, and jumping in wholeheartedly with her beloved nine-year-old son and three-year-old daughter in all that the world has to offer. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
ROBIN PICKERING: Program Manager
Robin is genuinely ecstatic to be joining The Roberts Field School and Studio Creative Play in fall 2016 as Program Manager. She has been working with Studio Creative Play in various capacities for ten years, from editing content for the Studio Creative Play website, to helping produce videos and other SCP related projects.
Robin traveled to Iceland with SCP to visit preschools and see firsthand their curriculum and art projects, and to Holbox, Mexico with SCP families for a film shoot. More recently, she has been behind the scenes with The Roberts Field School: editing documents and the website and helping to create an RFS social media presence. She is so excited to land at Studio Creative Play and The Roberts Field School full time this fall and become a steady part of the community.
Robin has been teaching yoga in Park Slope and NYC since 1999. She comes from an educational publishing background (English Language Arts for grades K-8, with a specialization in primary grade reading), and in publishing has edited and project managed everything from NYC test prep materials to phonics practice books to reading basals for grades K-12. The past ten years working with SCP have immersed her in the vision and the missions of SCP and RFS, and she is looking forward to being a part of the environment firsthand. She loves the kinesthetic nature of the SCP and RFS approach to learning and the multi-faceted ways that creative expression can be part of academic learning. She believes that creativity and academics can exist not only side by side, but they can also inform one another in an engaging and lasting way.
In her free time, Robin plays guitar and is very active in the Brooklyn music scene, but also loves nothing better than a three-hour stroll through the Botanic Gardens and a quiet coffee on a bench.
WARD WILLIAMS: Assistant Director/Music Ambassador
Ward is very excited to deepen his relationships with all of the children and parents, as well as with the incredible staff of teachers, in his new role this fall as Assistant Director/Music Ambassador at The Roberts Field School and Studio Creative Play. He looks forward to bringing his organizational and leadership skills to the team, and is especially thrilled to build on his current and previous musical instruction at SCP and RFS, and expand the students’ knowledge, repertoire, performance skills, and enjoyment of music.
Since 2006, Ward has been an active musical and teaching participant in hundreds of SCP classes, programs and events. From the first day he entered Studio Creative Play, he has been amazed by the warmth, encouragement and positivity demonstrated by Khahtee and the other teachers towards the students. What really resonates with him is the perfect balance of a carefully orchestrated, curated program and an environment where children feel free to explore and express themselves fully. He has been the SCP’s “Resident Cellist,” sharing music accompanying the reading of books, leading movement and yoga, performing to celebrate Martin Luther King on his holiday, and teaching the students about the cello—how it’s made and how it’s played. In 2013, he developed a music class called “Vibrato” for SCP, teaching musical concepts, theory and appreciation. In 2015, Ward was a teacher for the baby Villagio class. During the Spring of 2016, he led music classes to develop the Studio Creative Play and Roberts Field song circle.
Ward is a graduate of UNCSA Conservatory of Music (Bachelors of Music: Cello Performance), has over 2 decades of music performance and teaching experience throughout the United States and abroad.
Ward is a private music instructor specializing in Cello, Guitar, Music Theory, Songwriting and Beginning Piano to students of all ages.
When not playing music or working with SCP and RFS, Ward practices Insight Meditation, cooks, and spends time with his wife, Annelise, his son, Rhys, and his Boston Terrier, Mouse.
ANGUS DAVIDSON is pleased to return to Studio Creative Play as a Venni Fours teacher. As a musician and educator, Angus strives to integrate creative expression into everything in the classroom.
Angus graduated from Hampshire College in 2014 with a BA in music and a concentration in piano performance and conducting. After graduating from Hampshire, Angus taught kindergarten for a year in Gwangju, South Korea, before relocating to New York in the fall of 2015. He has been making music with children and students as a choral director, private lesson teacher, and music teacher. He has also worked in musical theater as well as in music ensembles, and has headed summer nature and outdoor exploration programs in Vermont. Angus was accepted to the Conductors Institute at Bard Conservatory in 2016 and is pursuing studies in orchestral conducting and classical piano performance.
Angus is excited to bring elements of drama, music, and the outdoors to his work at Studio Creative Play. He believes that creative thinkers (whether young or old) are at their best when they are connecting their art-making to the world around them, and, in the process, exploring global cultures, new ideas, and inspirations. He brings his experiences in education, music, drama, and nature to his teaching at Studio. He is inspired by the joy and wonder that Studio’s community finds in objects that others might overlook: the magic of a trip to the park, the sounds around the Studio, and the potential of a mural yet to be painted.
When he’s not teaching, Angus is often playing music, spending time outdoors, reading, or running.
ALICIA HEDGECOTH began her adventures at Studio Creative Play as the Studio Terra teacher in its inaugural year, traveling and exploring the great world of our imaginations with this delightful learning community. After three years of teaching full-time at Studio, Alicia stepped outside of the classroom (literally) to start her own business hosting seasonal nature explorations for children in Prospect Park called Naturally Curious Nature Walks. Each nature adventure with Naturally Curious aims to connect children to their natural landscape while also building independence, confidence, communication skills, and empathy. Alicia is excited to bring this sense of curiosity and awe for the natural world back into the classroom as a substitute teacher at Studio Creative Play this year and as the Wednesday Venni Threes co-teacher.
Alicia began her teaching “career” in her mother’s pre-school classroom when she was 8, helping prep art materials, set up learning centers, and singing songs with the class. After earning her BA in Anthropology from the University of Florida, Alicia decided she was ready to enter the wonderful world of education again as she embarked on her journey towards a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education at the University of Florida. This journey has guided her into a wide variety of teaching and learning opportunities, including curriculum development, docent training, and supervising programming at the Children’s Adventure Garden at The New York Botanical Garden.
When she isn’t building forts or digging for worms with 5 year olds, Alicia can be found cooking up a delicious meal, reading a book, or birdwatching in the park.
CAROLINE GUZMAN is delighted to be part of Studio Creative Play and The Roberts Field community as a Studio Terra kindergarten teacher. For the past five years, she has been immersed in the joyful exploration and merry art-making of Studio Creative Play’s early childhood classrooms. Across that time, she acted as a Staff Supervisor, taught children from ages two up through five, and worked with her co-teachers to craft both half day and full day programs that would meet the diverse needs of their students. Most recently, she anchored a four-year-old class who spent one day each week in the company of their kindergarten mentors. Caroline greatly valued this opportunity to team-teach, to facilitate a larger group of children, and to blend a pre-school sense of play with the academic learning of a slightly older child. She is a firm believer in the power of imagination, and gets energized every day by a kindergartner’s ability to manifest “the pretend.”
Caroline holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dance from Connecticut College, where she also completed her Elementary Teacher Certification. In 2006, she graduated among the first teachers in her state with a unique cross endorsement in the field of dance for students in grades K through 6. She continued her training at the American Dance Festival, where she studied under a Young Artist Scholarship and had the privilege of performing in its International Choreographers Commissioning Program.
As an educator, Caroline believes that children’s young minds are most active when their bodies are free to be. In January 2012, she helped SCP to launch its Live Earth curriculum as a weekly lab in physical expression, spatial awareness, and creative dance. She is passionate about sparking a child’s kinesthetic understanding of new ideas and fostering movement as an integrated tool for comprehension when teaching. Additionally, she feels deeply connected to the emphasis that The Roberts Field School places on outdoor investigation and a child’s access to nature. Few things capture a kindergartner’s imagination more immediately or more fully than a couple of sticks, some rocks, and the park as a stage.
Outside of her school day, Caroline performs and makes work with the dance group KitchenSink Collective. You’re also likely to find her sewing a soft sculpture, tinkering with a costume, or knee-deep in papier-mâché. Her theatrical designs have made their way to stages in Long Island City, and her annual contributions to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade have been covered in the online editions of many news sources, including The New York Times.
She is so eager to start making art, making discoveries, and stirring up plenty of fun with Studio Terra this fall!
CHLOE SIRENE is excited to be returning to Studio Creative Play this year as a Venni Fours teacher in Vega.
Chloe was awarded an MA in English Literature from Cambridge University and went on to train in Acting (PGDip), Fine Art (HNC), and Teaching (PGCE, Institute of Education). Chloe has worked with children since she was young, starting out at her parents’ holistic holiday center in Greece, Skyros Holidays. She is originally from London and worked as an Early Childhood teacher in the UK, teaching Pre-K for two years in a London public school.
Chloe is endlessly inspired by children’s imagination, enthusiasm, creativity, and wonder. She strongly believes in the importance of nurturing the whole child in a positive, supportive, and stimulating environment. She was charmed instantly by the creativity, happiness, kindness, and connection with nature at Studio Creative Play and was delighted to find such a warm emphasis on allowing children’s interests to shape their learning. She truly loved every moment of Vega last year and is looking forward to the year ahead.
Chloe loves acting and considers it a great privilege and joy to enter a world of make-believe with children. She is an award winning actor, working mainly in films, and has had the honor of working with Academy, BAFTA, and BIFA award winners. Chloe also loves creating artworks, telling stories through found footage, found objects, and any messy materials she can get her hands on. Chloe enjoys taking art classes in unusual crafts—such as tufting and willow lantern making—and can’t wait to start making art with the children! She has studied a wide range of other creative disciplines like creative writing (with Hanif Kureishi, for example) and African dance and drumming. She is really looking forward to playing with and incorporating all these different forms into the Studio classroom.
Chloe is looking forward to meeting everyone and to enjoying a really wonderful year ahead together!
GIGI CHEW joined Studio Creative Play in 2011. Gigi completed her BA in Psychology in 2002 at NYU, and her Masters in Social Work at NYU in 2005. She is a licensed Social Worker with over eight years of experience working with a wide range of high-risk adults and children in a variety of settings including hospitals, shelters, schools, soup kitchens, and supportive housing facilities. When she joined Studio Creative Play, she was working as a Creative Arts Counselor with public school children and their families.
As a child, Gigi grew up in Switzerland, Singapore, and New York, and has also spent a significant amount of time in Tokyo. Travel and exploring the globe are profoundly important to her. Gigi uses her global awareness to support a classroom environment that cultivates curiosity about the world and a respect for culture and diversity. Gigi is an illustrator as well as a crafter who enjoys working with her hands. She recognizes the importance of tactile play on child development and is drawn to artistic processes that enhance the sensory experience. As a nature lover, she often integrates natural elements into her work with children in ways that develop consciousness and appreciation of our earth. Gigi is deeply committed to providing children with a joyful, warm, and enriching learning environment where their strengths and imaginations are supported and nurtured.
Gigi is also the mother of a 5-year-old daughter, Isa, who has been through the Fours and Terra program at Studio Creative Play. She is thrilled for Isa to continue on to 1st grade at The Roberts Field School!
JILLIAN ROSSITTO is delighted to be joining Studio Creative Play and The Roberts Field School as a co-teacher in the kindergarten class. With over ten years of experience in education, she is firm believer in the significant power of early childhood education. Jillian holds an early childhood teaching certificate in both Connecticut and New York, a B.A. in Psychology from Salve Regina University, and an M.A. in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Special Education from Southern Connecticut State University. She has a diverse teaching background and has had the distinct pleasure of teaching in both the non-profit world and public and private schools. She is well versed in social and emotional learning and understands the importance of rich, thoughtful, and creative experiences, especially during a child’s most formative years. In fact, she loves early childhood so much she is also a certified pediatric sleep consultant and founded a pediatric sleep consulting business in 2012. When she is not in the classroom or helping sleepy babies, you can find her entertaining and putting serious love into her cooking, traveling the world with her husband, or swimming and reading at the beach. She also loves art and music and takes full advantage of all the diverse cultural experiences that New York has to offer.
There are so many things about The Roberts Field School that are in alignment with Jillian’s educational philosophy. However, what specifically appeals to her is the principle philosophy that children are happiest when lovingly nurtured and engaged in a stimulating environment where they can freely create, learn, and explore. It brings Jillian great joy to be able to meet children where they are as individual and diverse learners. One of her favorite things about teaching is that she is always learning and growing alongside her class. She is excited about all of the creative adventures she will have both inside and outside of the classroom with her students!
Jillian is thrilled to have the pleasure of being a co-teacher in the kindergarten class for the 2016–2017 school year. She is looking forward to growing within the community of The Roberts Field School, connecting with the families of her students, and nurturing her students’ young minds and spirits. As a nature lover, she is overjoyed to have the iconic Prospect Park right outside the door. She understands the power of communing with nature and also loves to incorporate natural materials in the classroom. She is particularly excited to present ideas that spark her students’ imagination and creativity so that each child can feel connected, understood, creative, and confident.
JOANNA GURIN is so thrilled to be joining the Venni Threes Altair classroom this fall at Studio Creative Play. Joanna is inspired by the peaceful, creative, and community focused aspects of SCP. She is honored to join the Studio Creative Play team, and knows there is a great year ahead for the students, parents, and staff.
Joanna is an award-winning writer and teaching artist with over a decade’s experience designing and facilitating workshops in New York, Alaska, London, and South Africa. These workshops focus on community building, self-care, artistic expression, and creative exploration. Most recently, Joanna worked in a 2-3s classroom in Morningside Heights exploring self and peer development through the utilization of artistic tools. While Joanna has loved working with all ages throughout her career, she finds the 2-3 age range to be a fascinating time for exploring self-expression, peer relationships, identity, and the world at large.
Joanna received a double BA in Human Rights and Theatre from Bard College, and went on to complete her MA in Applied Theatre: Drama in Educational, Community and Social Contexts (Distinction) at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her thesis, “Dragons at the Snack Table,” about the creating live, artistic, magical-realist spaces, will be published in the upcoming issue of The Teaching Artist Journal.
In 2014, Joanna founded BewilderArts, an NYC-based workshop collective that hosts free and open workshops for artists and educators throughout the year. Providing spaces for skill-sharing and self-care, BewilderArts has partnered with Stella Adler Studio of Acting, New York Theatre Workshop, The Forum Project, Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, and the People’s Climate March (among others).
Joanna enjoys facilitating comprehensive, inclusive, and individual-minded creative experiences (including working with children with developmental difference), incorporating global perspective, student imagination, and empathic engagement with the environment. She looks forward to growing her work with the wonderful staff and community of Studio Creative Play this coming year.
It is with great excitement that MARTHA SKOU joins Studio Creative Play as a teacher in Venni Studio Twos and Venni Studio Threes programs this year. She holds a master’s degree in visual communication and fine art from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design. She was born and raised in Scandinavia, and the Nordic model of living—as well as the White Nights (long, light-filled summer nights in Denmark)—are a continuing inspiration in her work as a multimedia artist.
Her education brought her to New York in 2013, where she‘s been exploring her art through several exhibitions and art residencies, most recently at Pioneer Works in Red Hook and at the HoloCenter at Governors Island.
As a visual artist and a self-taught musician, Martha has always found art and music to be the ultimate way to connect, reflect, and share with others. She calls it “the language without barrier.” Martha works to create new experiences in the meeting between image and sound and finds it challenging and important to combine old craft and analogue techniques with digital tools and new technology.
Martha has a wide background working with children and creativity in various settings. For years she worked as a teacher in Christiania, a freetown in Copenhagen, where socialist ethics and creativity were key. She has taught workshops at public schools, as well as at numerous creative after school clubs both here in New York and in Denmark.
Martha feels privileged to have been exposed to art at a young age and finds it valuable to be able to share the same experience with others.
NASHUDA AUGUSTINE is incredibly ecstatic to begin her first year as a Venni Studio Co-Teacher at Studio Creative Play. She is originally from Brooklyn New York, but has lived in Belize, Central America for over 11 years. After making her way back to the big city that she loves, she moved to Olympia Washington where she began volunteering as a preschool lead teacher. At the preschool, she realized she loves how children analyze and interpret information in their own way, and also how they interact with one another in a group setting. She became drawn to the way each individual child learned and how excited they became when experiencing something for the first time. She loves everything about self-expression through art and understands that when children are given the outlet and tools to create, that’s when their inner artist truly shines!
Nashuda has four years of teaching experience and working with children and young adults (18 months to 21 years). Her ability to see the potential in every child allows her to nurture even the tiniest glimmer of imagination. Her approach to learning is being in the moment to experience “the magic” that happens when a child is in tuned with his or her authentic self. The world is a great canvas in which children can derive knowledge, cultural experience, and scientific findings in order to reach the great unknown, and what better way to provide that experience than thinking and coloring outside the lines and creating a learning environment where a child can do just that!
Nashuda graduated with her MA degree in Organizational Leadership from Brandman University in 2013, where she learned how to incorporate various leadership styles into any organizational setting. Her leadership style is authentic and transformational, which can be seen by the way expresses her genuineness to those she meets, the children that she teaches, and those whom she works with. Her goal as a teacher is to continue to motivate, inspire, and create a great learning experience where children can thrive and implement what they have learned in their everyday lives.
Nashuda has an Identical twin sister who is also a teacher, and she often gains her greatest inspiration from the stories that her sister tells. Nashuda has a unique knack for drawing kids and can always evoke a laugh or a smile from them. She looking forward to meeting all of you at Studio Creative Play this year!
RICKY WATTS has been a teacher at Studio Creative Play since March 2014 and will be teaching Venni Fours this fall. He was drawn towards Studio’s holistic philosophies and the passion of the Studio community. The detailed approach provided by Studio Creative Play, through music, art, and mindfulness, is very important to Ricky in his own life.
Ricky is a musician when he is not at Studio Creative Play. He spent this summer traveling the world with different artists, and working on two new studio albums to be released in the fall. As a drummer and percussionist, he loves the feel of community that comes with music. It brings him such joy to see how quickly everyone begins to sing and dance along to music. That’s why he loves to bring music to studio.
Ricky is eager for this new year at Studio Creative Play. He is excited for a year of growth, imagination, and inspiration with the entire Studio community.
STEFAN FINK is so deeply grateful and excited to enter his third year teaching with Studio Creative Play! He has had the privilege to see so many children come to a fuller knowledge of their own wisdom, sense of community, and love of exploring the greater world around them throughout his time as a Vega teacher. Both as an educator and as an artist, Stefan tries to create a space to discover the world around us and in ourselves. He loves to co-create experiences with children where we see the interplay between our own thoughts and feelings and connect on a heart level to those around us. He especially enjoys utilizing music and storytelling to bridge paths across time and space and to create a platform to experience how others celebrate and share.
Stefan can often be found leading song circles with his banjo or guitar to the sounds of dancing, singing and clapping. He also loves leading long adventures through the deep woods and fields of Prospect Park, observing birds, flowers, and the changing of the seasons. Holding a space for magic and wonder is a value that Stefan shares with every child he has had the honor to know and one he loves to constantly rebuild.
This summer, Stefan had the honor of teaching around the themes of nature and culture to young migrant children in DownEast Maine while their families worked the blueberry harvest. The school was an amazing space to share and learn with First Nations and Mesoamerican students and teachers in a place where pine trees far outnumber people.
In addition to teaching, Stefan is also a folk musician, ravenous gardener, novice chef, and avid cyclist. He challenges himself to see the world up close and make a friend of new experiences. Last summer Stefan even rode his bike all the way from Brooklyn to Montreal!
He is deeply humbled to continue his teaching relationship with Studio Creative Play and all the magic it brings and will see you all in the fall!