|Khahtee V. Turner|
Founder and Director
Program Supervisor and Coordinator
Studio Terra Teacher
Studio Terra Teacher
Studio Rigel Teacher
(Venni Fours Program)
Studio Rigel Teacher
(Venni Fours Program)
Studio Vega Teacher
(Venni Fours Program)
Studio Vega Teacher
(Venni Fours Program)
Studio Polaris Teacher
(Venni Threes Program)
Studio Polaris Teacher
(Venni Threes Program)
Studio Terra Teacher
(on maternity leave Spring 2018)
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 blooming 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. The Studio community has daily 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, Khahtee founded The Roberts Field School, a kindergarten through 5th grade program, which she also directs. In the establishment of Roberts Field, she maintains her fierce devotion to offer the community the tenets and practices of Studio through an interdisciplinary approach to elementary education.
In autumn 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.
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ROBIN PICKERING: Program Manager
Robin has been an active leader for Studio Creative Play in various capacities for over ten years, from editing content for the Studio Creative Play website, to helping produce educational videos and managing other large development projects. Over this decade plus of time, Robin’s work with SCP has also extended to global ports, such as traveling to Iceland and Mexico to further share Studio’s mission and curriculum with other schools, organizations, and communities, and to build ongoing partnerships with these groups.
Robin very much enjoys being the Program Manager, as it gives her the opportunity to deepen her relationship with all things Studio and Roberts Field and to serve the Studio-RFS community on a daily basis. She feels privileged to work alongside such a strong leadership team, and to be surrounded at the school always by music, color, forms, and shapes of all dimensions, in an environment that is so kind, thoughtful, nurturing, and joyful. She loves the mornings when she has time to be at the door to greet families and children as they come in to see what the day holds.
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.
In her free time, Robin plays electric 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/
Ward brings his organizational and leadership skills to the SCP/RFS team in his role as Assistant Director/Music Ambassador at The Roberts Field School and Studio Creative Play.
Since 2006, Ward has been an active musical and teaching participant in hundreds of SCP classes, programs and events. As Music Ambassador, he builds on his previous musical instruction at SCP and RFS, and expands the students’ knowledge, repertoire, performance skills, and enjoyment of music.
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 two decades of music performance and teaching experience throughout the United States and abroad.
Ward is a professional musician who appears regularly in the orchestras of the Broadway musicals Waitress and The Great Comet. He performs at many venues throughout New York City and has recorded string arrangements for many artists.
When not playing music or working with SCP and RFS, Ward practices Insight Meditation, cooks, and spends time with his wife Annelise, his young son and daughter, and his Boston Terrier.
ANGUS DAVIDSON is the Program Coordinator and Supervisor for Studio-Roberts Fields, and co-teaches in the Studio Polaris Threes classroom with Gigi Chew, and has been involved with Studio Creative Play since 2015. As a musician and educator, Angus strives to integrate creative expression into the classroom. He has taught music in Studio and Roberts Field classrooms, and previously taught in the Venni Fours Program as a Rigel co-teacher.
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. His teaching experience has spanned private lessons, choral direction, and classroom teaching. Angus was a candidate for the Ottorino Respighi Prize in Conducting at the inaugural New York Conducting Workshop, and attended the Yarn/Wire Institute at Stony Brook University in 2017. He and Polaris co-teacher Gigi Chew recently co-founded Spark Arts Studio, a summer program for children drawing on their love of art, music, and nature.
Angus brings elements of drama, music, and the outdoors to his work at Studio Creative Play. When he’s not teaching, Angus is often playing music, spending time outdoors, reading, or writing.
CAROLINE GUZMAN has been immersed in the joyful exploration and merry art-making of Studio Creative Play since 2011. She returns this year to serve the Studio Creative Play/Roberts Field community as a co-teacher in its Studio Terra Kindergarten for the second year. Across Caroline’s time in early childhood with Venni Studio, she acted as a Staff Supervisor, taught children from ages two up through six, and worked with her co-teachers to design both half day and full day programs that would meet the diverse needs of their students. She greatly values the opportunities past and present to deepen her craft with the RFS team of educators — focusing on the use of play towards affording authentic occasions for academic discovery. 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.
When teaching, Caroline follows the credo that young minds are most active if their bodies are similarly free. 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 in the classroom. Additionally, she feels very 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 their stage.
Outside of school, you’re likely to find Caroline 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 Kindergarten again this Fall!
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CHLOE SIRENE is returning to Studio Creative Play this year as a Venni Fours co-teacher in Rigel.
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 worked as an Early Childhood teacher in the UK, teaching Pre-K for two years in a London public school (she’s British!) before coming here to New York and teaching at Studio.
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. She truly loved every moment of Vega Fours at Studio in years past, and is looking forward to the year ahead in Rigel.
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 photographs, found objects, lots of messy materials, and lots of color! Chloe is always thrilled to be making art with children! She has studied a wide range of other creative disciplines like creative writing (with Hanif Kureishi, for example), dance, drumming, and singing. She loves to incorporate a variety of creative experiences into the Studio classroom.
Chloe is looking forward to meeting everyone and to enjoying a really wonderful year ahead together.
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GIGI CHEW joined Studio Creative Play in 2011. She completed her BA in Psychology in 2002 at NYU, and her Masters in Social Work at NYU in 2005. Gigi is a licensed Social Worker with 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 in 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. In the summer of 2017, Gigi and fellow co-teacher, Angus Davidson, launched Spark Arts Studio, a children’s enrichment program focused on art, culture, and nature appreciation.
In her free time, Gigi is an avid meditator and reader. Gigi is also the mother of a 6-year-old daughter, who has been at Studio since the age of 4. She is thrilled for her daughter to continue on to 2nd grade at The Roberts Field School!
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JILLIAN ROSSITTO is returning for her second year as a co-teacher in Studio Terra kindergarten class. With over twelve years of experience in education, her love for teaching is rooted in the profound 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 was the recipient of the Connecticut Early Childhood Education Council Annual Scholarship and has presented at Columbia University Teacher’s College for the Inclusive Classroom Project.
Jillian 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 artistic 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 her own 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 going to music festivals, farmers’ markets, museums, and concerts. She takes full advantage of all the diverse cultural experiences that New York has to offer.
There are many aspects about the Roberts Field School that are in alignment with Jillian’s educational philosophy, and she is overjoyed to have another year filled with fun! She looks forward to delving deep into the units of study with messy art projects, creative movement, and diverse musical expression. It brings her great joy to teach young children in such a nurturing and supportive environment. After seeing the school’s principle philosophy in action, she knows firsthand that children are happiest when lovingly nurtured and engaged in a stimulating environment where they can freely create, learn, and explore! She also feels so lucky to be a part of a school that has such an inclusive and deep sense of community. Jillian delights in the rich kindergarten curriculum as it allows her to meet her students where they are as individual and diverse learners. One of her favorite things about teaching Studio Terra is that she is always having adventures while learning and growing alongside her students.
Jillian is excited about connecting with the families of her new students and nurturing her students’ young minds and spirits both inside the beautiful and historic building and outside in the rolling hills and vast fields of the iconic Prospect Park. As a nature lover, she is excited to return to the park with her class so that it can feed into her inspiration as she presents ideas that spark her students’ imagination and creativity. She is enthusiastic about another year of wonder where she can help foster the deep feelings of belonging and community for each of her students in her kindergarten class.
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JOANNA GURIN is returning to Studio Creative Play as a Venni Twos and Threes co-teacher in the Capella and Altair classrooms. Joanna is inspired by the peaceful, creative Studio community, and is so excited to be continuing with the team.
Joanna is an award-winning writer and teaching artist with over a decade’s experience designing and facilitating workshops in New York, London, and South Africa. Her work focuses on community building, self-care, artistic expression, and creative exploration the world at large. Most recently she worked to bring playwriting to secure units at Rikers, and oversaw a pilot arts program for kids in transitional housing in Queens. In her work, Joanna has partnered with Stella Adler Studio of Acting, New York Theatre Workshop, The Forum Project, The 52nd Street Project, Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, and the People’s Climate March (among others).
Joanna is an active Playwright whose work has received productions in New York, London, and New Orleans. She is currently workshopping her full-length play “Nocturnes,” and contributes work to numerous festivals throughout the city, including the recent inaugural “Future is Female” festival (Brooklyn Outpost).
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 creating artistic, magic-realist spaces for kids, was published in the Taylor and Francis Teaching Artist Journal.
Joanna enjoys facilitating comprehensive, inclusive, and individual-minded creative experiences (including working with children with developmental difference), incorporating global perspectives, student imagination, and empathic engagement with the environment. Throughout her career, Joanna has loved working with all ages, but finds the 2-3 age range to be a particularly fascinating time for exploring self-expression, peer relationship, and identity. Joanna looks forward to everything this coming year at Studio has in store!
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KIRSTEN BAKKEN is excited to join the Studio Terra class and the Roberts Field School community!
Originally from Flint, Michigan, she holds a bachelor’s degree in French and history from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in linguistics from Michigan State University. After graduation, Kirsten moved to Chicago and served as an AmeriCorps volunteer at Asian Human Services, where she fell in love with teaching and working with children. She taught English as a second language classes to adults and tutored elementary school students in the organization’s after school program, a job she adored.
After her time with AmeriCorps, Kirsten moved to Washington, DC, where she completed the Capital Teaching Residency, a teacher preparation program in the District. For the past seven years, she has worked as a pre-k teacher at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, an incredibly vibrant, diverse, and inspiring community of students, teachers, and families. At Haynes, Kirsten worked with the school’s youngest students to develop their early language and literacy skills. Her absolute favorite thing to do with students is to read and act out a favorite book, and to watch as children make a story their own. She is endlessly fascinated with children’s many ways of seeing and representing their world through play, drama, art, and construction.
Outside of the classroom, Kirsten enjoys reading, studying Spanish, and practicing calligraphy. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband Joel, a fellow Michigander, and their cat Inca.
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LEAH BARKER is very happy to be on the Studio team as a Venni Fours teacher. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Development and Elementary Education from Michigan State University and has worked with children in many preschool settings. She has lived in Brooklyn for 5 years but grew up in rural Michigan with a childhood absorbed in nature and outdoor exploration.
Leah’s teaching philosophy is centered around hands-on, play-based learning and development. She upholds a supportive and nurturing environment that encourages children to express themselves freely and imaginatively. She uses every opportunity she can to create a wondrous, magical moment for children to use their imaginations. Using mindful, positive, and open-ended language with children, Leah fosters kind and meaningful relationships and communication.
When Leah is not in the classroom, she loves cooking, reading, dancing, music, and being in nature. Leah is looking forward to connecting with children and families, and continuing to create mindful community. She is eager to explore, build, and learn with each child!
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NASHUDA AUGUSTINE is returning to Studio Creative Play as the co-teacher in both the Venni Twos Capella and Venni Threes Altair programs.
Nashuda 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 was amazed at how much information children could take in, and how they interpreted what was being taught to them in their own unique way. She became drawn to the way each individual child expressed themselves and how excited they became when learning something new for the very first time. She feels that the smile that a child gives after accomplishing a goal is priceless, and that makes being a teacher worth it. She is joyful and humbled to be a part of the community of Studio Creative Play.
Nash graduated with her Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Brandman University in 2013, where she learned how to incorporate various leadership styles into an educational setting. Her own leadership style is authentic and transformational, which can be seen by the way she expresses her genuineness to those she meets, the children that she teaches, and those with whom she works. 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.
Nash has five years of teaching experience and working with children and young adults (18 months to 21 years of age). 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!
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NICK MCKENNA is very excited to be part of Studio Creative Play as a Vega co-teacher. He has recently returned to the United States after three years of teaching and exploring in South Korea and Australia. Nick loves to bring our big beautiful world into the classroom and sees children as co-explorers, co-learners and co-educators.
Nick graduated with a BA in sociology from Suffolk University. Focusing on mentorship and college access programming, he received Americorp scholarships to mentor Boston Public School students in areas of college access and readiness. Mentorship extended far beyond the areas of concentration, teaching him the power of healthy, synergistic relationships between teachers and students.
South Korea is where Nick fell in love with teaching. He taught an after school English program for young learners that focused on storytelling, art, and cooking. He learned the importance of a holistic teaching approach that focused on nurturing relationships. He believes in the power of a smile and kind words and that finding a smile and a giggle in someone else is never out of reach.
In Australia, he was lucky to continue pursuing his passion for teaching, this time with immigrants from all over the world. He learned just as much from them, and their experiences, as he was able to teach them. Nick truly believes in the power of collaboration in education. And as one becomes a teacher, one never stops learning. Nick takes away a personal or professional lesson from the classroom, his students, and co-teachers each day.
Last spring, Nick was lucky enough to join a ten day meditation course in Prachinburi, Thailand. He practiced eleven hours of seated meditation per day—an awakening challenge! He continues his meditation practice daily and hopes to bring his own mindfulness practice into Studio.
Aside from teaching and meditating, Nick is a hungry cook, a windowsill gardener, and an avid reader of anything that makes him laugh, and he can’t wait to begin exploring Brooklyn by bike and on foot.
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STEFAN FINK is deeply grateful and excited to enter his fourth 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 Fours teacher. Both as an educator and as an artist, Stefan creates a space for children to discover the world around them and in themselves. He loves to co-create experiences with children where together they can see the interplay between their thoughts and feelings, and connect on a heart level to those around them. 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.
For the second summer in a row, 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 budding naturalist. This year, Stefan became certified in Wilderness First Aid and is excited at more opportunities to provide medical services and care to the wider community. He challenges himself to see the world up close and make a friend of new experiences.
He is deeply humbled to continue his teaching relationship with Studio Creative Play and all the magic it brings!