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About us

Art Play Learn is the culmination of 30 years of teaching and learning. Meredith's path to founding Art Play Learn is long and convoluted and includes living and teaching in Japan for almost 4 years, working as a contract actor and teaching at almost every gig for 3 years, coaching professional stage performers on audition techniques in NYC, leading a team of arts integrators to create state and Common Core-aligned workshops for Kaiser Permanente, creating an Infant and Toddler Enrichment Program through PGParks, and then developing a Japanese curriculum that has enjoyed so much popularity it sometimes keeps her up at night. Meredith's goal is to change the world through education and she knows she cannot do it alone. That is why she works hard to find the world's best teachers, to empower them to share their brilliance with the world and to find students for them to share their brilliance with.

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Meredith Kaunitz

CEO, Master Teacher

With 28 years of teaching experience, a curiosity about Neurology, Psychology, and Cognitive Science, and exposure to a wide variety of teaching strategies, Meredith has become a thought-leader in education. Developing and implementing new teaching strategies, Meredith has become a popular teacher and sought-out education consultant. 

Meredith has developed a distance-learning program, including 9 levels of Japanese (for 8-12 year olds, and for teens) with 2 writing supplemental classes, that has garnered the attention of almost 700 families and a 5-star rating. 

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Inga Paredez

Dance & Piano Teacher

Inga has over 20 years of experience dancing, beginning with classical ballet and expanding to the world of ballroom where she is a Virginia State Champion. She is passionate about helping students find the joy in dancing and build self-confidence. Her primary dance styles include classical ballet, international latin and standard ballroom, east coast swing, and salsa. Inga also teacher Suzuki method for piano.

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Michael Kessler

Brass Instrument Teacher

Michael Kessler is an Instrumental Music Teacher for Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS) where he is currently assigned to three elementary schools where he teaches beginning Band and Orchestra to grades 4, 5, & 6. Mr. Kessler believes that everyone has musical ability in them even if they are not aware of it, and that they are capable of learning music and an instrument with a little dedication and hard work. Mr. Kessler earned his Bachelor of Science in Music Education (2006) and a Master in Music Performance (2013) from Towson University. He currently holds an Advanced Teaching Certificate from Maryland State Department of Education.


In addition to teaching for PGCPS Mr. Kessler maintains a private lesson studio. As part of that studio he previously taught private brass instrument lessons at the Music and Arts Center in Bowie (2014-2020) and at St. Anne’s School of Annapolis (2007-2011). In addition to teaching Mr. Kessler was the Principal Trumpet of the Londontowne Symphony Orchestra (2009-2016) and a member of the Anne Arundel Community College Band and Orchestra (2008-2010).

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Ryan Hu

Chess Instructor

Ryan loves chess and has been playing for more than six years. He is very proud of winning first place in the school county championship when he was only nine. He likes to share his passion and skills with others, and he teaches chess both face-to-face and online. He also helps out at his local church as a teacher's assistant, where he works with children from 5 to 12 years old on different subjects. Ryan is not only a chess champion but also plays soccer as a goalkeeper at a competitive level. Ryan is also curious about new technologies and enjoys reading about them.

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Mariana Cecilia Morales Zarate

Spanish Instructor

¡Hola! My name is Mariana Cecilia Morales Zarate, a dedicated a passionate Spanish teacher with 12 years of teaching experience, and deep love for my career, the beauty of my language and culture. During my years of experience, I have had the privilege to work with students from very different cultures and backgrounds.




In my time as a Spanish teacher, I successfully helped my students to immerse in the language learning experience in order to attain their goals. I have crafted engaging lessons that integrate all the communication skills necessary to succeed in acquiring proficiency in another language, as well as cultural elements, intertwined with real-life experiences and examples. I also have adapted many activities and resources that adapt to different learning styles and ensure student success. 


Teaching Approach:

Being an English language learner myself, I understand the struggles and challenges that students face, therefore I strive to provide many resources, but overall understanding, empathy and patience to create a comfortable learning atmosphere. 



I hold a bachelor's degree in Tourism Management, from the Universidad Católica Boliviana. In 2011 I got certified to teach Spanish as a foreign language. I also hold a Certificate in Teaching for Superior Education, a Master´s in Education for Teaching Multilingual Learners and I am a Licensed Spanish Teacher grades PREK-12. I am passionate about teaching and learning. I am always looking for new opportunities to increase my abilities and skills as well as staying up-to date with best practices. 

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Saul Del Palacio

Spanish Instructor

Saul Del Palacio is a passionate educator and native Spanish speaker with an Associate's degree in Arts from El Paso Community College. He is on the path to acquiring a Bachelor in Science of Nursing. Since 2018, Saul has been deeply involved in the realm of education, teaching Spanish and immersing himself actively within the educational community. His drive for teaching propelled him to obtain pedagogical certifications from Colegio Versalles and further hone his skills with specializations in Spanish language teaching from Tecnológico de Monterrey.

For over 5 years, in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, Saul has dedicatedly mentored young students ranging from the ages of 6 to 13. Beyond imparting knowledge in the Spanish language, he also extended his expertise to tutor mathematics and introduced 12-year-olds to the world of programming through Scratch.

With a strong foundation in programming, Saul has crafted his own unique educational resources to ensure that his students always receive a contemporary and enriching learning experience. As an ever-evolving educator who values continuous learning and innovation, Saul is unwavering in his commitment to deploy teaching methods that amplify his students' educational achievements.

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Sophie Petersen

Art Teacher

My name is Sophia Petersen, and I am a self-published graphic novelist, as well as the eldest of three children from a queer, neurodiverse family. I am very passionate about homeschooling and art, as I myself was homeschooled K-12 and was given the freedom to emphasize art as a subject. In February of 2023, I published my first graphic novel.

I started Taekwondo in 2017, and that was the starting point in my teaching career. Through Taekwondo, I learned how to effectively and efficiently communicate with children. With the skills I had acquired by teaching, I felt confident enough to take my first job as a babysitter, which I did for several years for the parents in my neighborhood. In 2019, my mom started an in-home childcare business, where I gained experience in caring for children’s basic needs. By the time Covid hit in early 2020, we had moved from Hawaii to Maryland; due to everyone going virtual, I was given the opportunity to mentor private Taekwondo lessons for two years.

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Nykira Parham

Game Design & Coding Teacher

Hi! I'm Nykira (they/them) and I'm a 3D artist, illustrator, and game designer. I have a Master's in Game Design from Full Sail University. When not being creative, I am often playing video games such as Destiny 2 and The Sims 4. I mainly play RPGs, MMOs, and simulation games as well as tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons. My goal is to teach some of the fundamentals of game design while also making a simple game using the Unreal Engine. Hope to see you soon!

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Suzanne Butler

Restorative Practices Instructor

Suzanne is an experienced educator who is driven to help communities. She began as a fifth grade teacher over twenty years ago.  She quickly realized that building relationships with each student was a core value of a successful learning community.  After ten years of teaching, she wanted to expand her impact schools so she became a school counselor.  It is through these educational experiences that she developed and deepened diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging advocacy.  Suzanne’s restorative practices journey began professionally as an equity coordinator in a middle school.  Collaboration and connection are two of her guiding values and she believes any success is rooted in relationships. Suzanne is currently a restorative practitioner and trainer who offers workshops and consultations for families and organizations.

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Tural Osmanov

Chess Club Teacher, Russian Teacher, COVID-Grade Saver Tutor,  Soccer Coach

Tural Osmanov is a native Russian speaker who is also fluent in English, Turkish and German. Combining his language skills with his medical knowledge as a licensed Radiologist, he helps patients receive accurate information in their native tongues at major local medical centers working as a medical interpreter. He has a Medical Doctor degree in Medicine from Azerbaijan Medical University , with a Specialty  in Radiology from Chukurova Medical School (Turkey),  Vienna General Hospital (Austria) and Hannover Medical School (Germany).


He has been playing chess since he was about 5 years old and played on competitive teams through university. He has also played competitive soccer for most of his life, playing left forward on a professional level. Tural is a fun-loving guy who is excited to share his many skills with kids in a playful, positive way. I’m joining Art Play Learn company to share my most favorite subjects and hobbies to children everywhere.

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Jose Ortiz

Art Teacher, Dungeons & Dragons Integrator

Jose’s vivid imagination fostered his love for art as well as role-playing games from a young age. Pursuing a career in the arts, he received his B.A. in Studio Art from George Mason University’s College of Visual & Performing Arts, and has worked as an art teacher, production artist, scenic artist & digital artist. Most of his latest freelance artwork has been in the fantasy genre of tabletop roleplaying games, like Dungeons & Dragons.


He has played and run Dungeons & Dragons for over 30 years, and has been involved with organized play for nearly 20 years. During that time, he served as one of three Mid-Atlantic regional administrators for Wizard of the Coast’s ‘Living Greyhawk’ campaign, an official D&D shared-world campaign. As an administrator for a three state region (VA, MD, DE), he acted as the lead narrative designer, wrote and edited storylines and adventures, organized gaming conventions, managed dozens of regional adventure authors and facilitated many Dungeon Masters to ensure players received the best play experience.


Jose believes D&D is much more than just a game, it is a tool for learning critical social skills as well as ‘hard’ skills, in the guise of a fun pastime. Over the span of many years running D&D, he has seen kids (and adults) make new friends, improve listening skills, boost creative thinking, practice problem solving, learn cooperation, foster empathy, hone math skills, and be inspired to create works of art. All of this and more is amplified with a skilled facilitator, or Dungeon Master, like Jose, who believes people learn better when they’re having fun.

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Patrice DiChristina

Art & Farm Science Teacher

Patrice received a BA in Art and Psychology from Oberlin College in 2018. Since then, she has worked as a studio assistant, an art teacher, an artist, and a farmer, sometimes all at once. Patrice loves reading, painting, hiking, and hanging out with her cat. 

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Becky Shick

French & GermanTeacher

Becky Shick is a Master Teacher of French. She holds a B.A in French, a B.S. in International Business, a Master's Degree in Education,  and 2 Gradute Certificates. She attended the Franco-American Teachers in Training Institute in 2010 and has been teaching French ever since. She belongs to the Alliance Française and the Ohio Foreign Language Association. In addition to French, she speaks Russian and German.


Rachel Jackson

Theater Teacher

Rachel is a professional actor/director based in Nashville, TN. She graduated with her BFA in Acting from Millikin University in 2018, and is signed with Heyman Talent Agency. She loves to read, spend time with friends, and snuggle with her Chihuahua, Nessa!

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Bonita Shelby

Prek-Emerging Academics & Literacy Specialist

Bonita Shelby

Science of Reading-based Literacy Tutor



Bonita was a Literacy Lead with AmeriCorps at Reading Partners DC for the 2021-2022 Service Year, assigned to a DC Public School helping elementary school students improve their reading skills and levels. That amazing experience motivated her to want to learn more about this important assignment. Ignite! Reading equipped her to become proficient in providing Science of Reading-based tutoring through their Master Class level, certification program that includes over 125 hours of Professional Learning, tutoring Practicum plus ongoing coaching and feedback from Literacy Specialists. In November 2022, Bonita completed the requirements to become an Ignite! Reading Certified Tutor. 

She has tutored students daily, from K to 8th grades with different reading skills and levels, one to one, online and in person. She saw continuous improvements in the students' confidence and reading skills and levels which have been noted by the schools' teachers and administrators.

Bonita is a former CPA, a lifelong learner and loves to share what she has learned with others. She developed a love for reading as a young girl regularly going to her local DC Public Library with her older cousin to read books there and take books home to read. She developed a love for words in her high school Vocabulary class and moved on to develop her writing skills over the years. 

Her goal is to equip students to move from learning to read, to reading to learn, to reading to empower themselves to excel in their lives!

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Gerald Barnes

Math Tutor

I, Gerald Barnes, am from Hartford, Connecticut.  I previously worked for the State of Connecticut in the Division of Special Revenue for a good 12 years.  I relocated to the metro area and have been living here for a good 22 years.  I have a bachelor’s degree in business. For the last 2 decades, I have been working in the area of finance for various law firms.  In addition to working full time hours, I also tutor students in basic math, Algebra 1&2. I have a passion for math.  I enjoy exploring its concepts and problem solving techniques.  When I explain math concepts to students, it’s with the intention of giving them a great understanding about problem solving as well as creating a positive and impactful learning experience.  And that’s so rewarding and why I love tutoring.  

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Scott Baker

Drums & Percussion Teacher

Scott is an accomplished musician and teacher. A Maryland native, he started playing the drums at age 7. As a young student, he studied with Dr. Richard Bick and Gary Elliot (U.S. Navy Commodores). He attended St. Mary’s College Md. as a Percussion Performance Major, continuing his studies with Gordon Stout. While in attendance, he performed with the Percussion Ensemble, was first chair in the Orchestra and played with the Jazz Band.


Scott was a co-founding original member of Chrysalis recording and touring artists Here Today and Vigil. After Vigil, Scott kept busy playing a wide variety of styles from Rock to R & B, Jazz, Blues, Big Band and Country in countless venues with numerous groups and artists.


Over the last 20 years, he has taught beginner to advanced students of all ages from young children to adults and seniors. His strength is in reading, fundamentals and technique on the Snare Drum, as well as teaching all styles and forms of drum set from Modern Pop to Classic Rock, R & B, Jazz, Blues and Latin.


Scott has a solid track record of success with his students. Pupils have received Music Scholarships to Dematha High School. He has helped numerous students prepare and succeed in auditions for Honors, Jazz, Marching and State Bands. He has also had students get accepted into music programs at Notre Dame, University of Maryland, Howard University and Towson University. After many years, Scott still loves playing and teaching and really enjoys passing on and sharing his knowledge, passion and excitement for music to his students.

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Teresa Sedano

ASL & Contemplative Art Teacher

Teresa Sedano is a resident of Santa Rosa, California and has been a certified ASL interpreter for over 20 years in a variety of settings, most specifically for the California State Department of Rehabilitation and post-secondary settings.  Teresa was founder and executive director of Stagesigns, Inc., which provided theatrical interpreting within the Sacramento community to Deaf and Hard of Hearing audiences.  Stagesigns was one of the first West Coast organizations to utilize Deaf Interpreters as part of their many interpreted productions, most particularly, the Children’s Fairytale Theatre at Sacramento Community College. She is a retired adjunct faculty at American River College, instructing sign language interpreting students in the area of Ethics and Professional Standards as well as Service Learning. 

She holds a Master’s degree in Contemplative Education, and has trained specifically in contemplative art, which includes concepts such as mindfulness, presence, and breath work in order for each individual to explore the joy of self-expression during the creative process.

Teresa has a passion for art and its’ healing and de-stressing properties, and is a member of the Northern California Art Therapy Association. She holds a certificate in “Expressive Art Therapy”, and has taught art to young pre-school children at “Young Rembrandts”, an after-school art program.

Teresa has enjoyed a long collaboration with the Crocker Art Museum, including coordinating a mentorship program for interpreting students from American River College; pairing them with docents for tours which allowed access to the local Deaf community. She is the owner of Awakened Heart Designs, providing group workshops and 1-1 instruction in contemplative art concepts and basic meditation instruction.

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Saba Mahmud

Biology, Chemistry & Biochemistry Teacher

Saba Mahmud holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology, with a minor in Chemistry. Ms. Mahmud has over 10 years of experience tutoring high school and college students in Chemistry and Biology, as well as Biochemistry. As a science student and experienced tutor, she assesses the understanding of her students before diving into teaching. She walks the students through the material, only helping where necessary, allowing the students to work as much on their own as possible.  She does her best to put her students at ease and makes sure they feel confident with the material before the session is complete. 


She uses online tools and molecular models to help explain the concepts of Chemistry in an effective manner. She has been tutoring online since before the COVID, and continued online lessons during the pandemic as well. She is aware of how the pandemic has changed the mode of instruction in high school and college STEM courses, especially in lab settings. Her approach is individualized and focused on her students. 


Michael Jurist

Chess, Filmmaking & Photography Teacher

Michael Jurist is a graduate of the Park School of Baltimore and currently studying Philosophy at Towson University. A longtime chess player, photographer and filmmaker; Jurist is always excited to share his knowledge with those wanting to learn!

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Olajuwon Kunle-Rabiu

Chess, Soccer & MathTeacher

My name is Olajuwon Kunle-Rabiu but my friends call me Juwon. I am a college student who loves helping others with academic and hobby-related problems, including but not limited to math, English, chess, etc by providing a safe and judgment-free zone for my clients. 

I've played chess since I was four and have been to multiple tournaments as a child so I'm very familiar with how the child's brain works when learning chess and how to best keep their attention as well as making chess fun.

I am currently a math coach tutor at Lakeland Elementary School and I work with primarily 4th grade students, but I can assist with math subjects at any level in the Elementary and Middle School system. I believe my experience in being a math tutor makes me the right candidate to teach your child math because, as I said before, I know how to keep a child's attention.

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Daniel Wheeler

Dungeons & Dragons & Math Teacher

Daniel Wheeler is a Securities Analyst at Wells Fargo, part time tutor at Sylvan of Catonsville, and an experienced Dungeon Master for D&D. A long-time fascination with both mathematics and history/fantasy worlds led to a Bachelors of Arts degree in Ancient Studies and a Bachelors of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Early on at UMBC, Dan played his first game of D&D, fourth edition, with some friends from High School after having interest in it for some time. Daniel fell in love with the game immediately. He eventually found himself leading games as the Dungeon Master, or DM, at various points during college, and several more times since then. Running both premade modules and homebrew campaigns, he has experience with all types of situations that may arise, and a solid understanding of the rules, and worlds in which the game happens. His degree in math and experience tutoring gives him the background to teach the math skills that are required to play the game to students who need extra practice or who struggle with math. Daniel also has experience with rockets, and other sorts of scientific fields from his time in college and doing independent experiments with friends.


Tanya Harris

Japanese, French, English as an Other Language Teacher

My name is Tanya Harris. I have been a Japanese Teacher at Waipahu High since October of 2002. And I have been a proud Marauder for 18 years. I have a bachelor of Science in Languages and Linguistics Degree from Georgetown as well as a Master’s Degree of Comparative Culture and Language Research from Kurume University. And I have a Master’s degree in Education from Chaminade University. 

I grew up here in the islands on the best side of the island, the windward side. I actually came to Hawaii when I was 1 years old and celebrated my 2nd birthday in Waikiki. My father was a scientist and was quite renown in his field.  His name was Dr. Ernest James Harris. My mother was an activist and is also quite well known. Her name is Bettye Jo Harris. I have two brothers older and younger, which puts me right in the middle.  We as a family constantly traveled around the world, because of my father’s position as an entomologist with the Department of Agriculture.  I was exposed to other cultures at a very young age. I learned French and then later on in my life I learned Japanese.  I am happily tri-lingual. I have learned the importance of speaking another language as well as the importance of social justice via the opportunities I have had to travel the globe. It is important to treat each other fairly no matter where they come from, what their beliefs are, or what color they are.  I look forward to teaching this class and learning about all of you.

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Gabrielle Lamothe

Theater Integrator, Deaf Theater Teacher

Gabrielle (Gabby) completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Performance Theatre at Francis Marion University in South Carolina. She received an alternative teaching certificate in the state of Texas and taught middle school theatre, debate, and video production for two years. She also has experience working in a preschool along with elementary ages in an after school drama program. Gabby recently graduated with an Associates degree in American Sign Language Interpreting. In her free time, Gabby enjoyes roller blading, hiking, baking and spending time with family and friends. 

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Sarah "Tessa" Schwartz

Animal Science Teacher, Dungeons & Dragons Teacher

Tessa Schwartz is a senior at the University of Maryland, majoring Animal Science Care and Management. She was raised on a horse farm learning how to care, feed, and handle a variety breeds of horses.  During many summers, she served as a horse camp counselor to teach safety, horseback riding, and various equine information. In addition to science, she is versed in different mediums of art from working with clay, cardboard, wood, playing cards, and typical mediums such as paper and canvas. She likes to get involved with creative activities, which brought her into the world of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). Although she got a late start learning about D&D, picking up the game in college, she has excelled in learning and quickly becoming a game master for over the last year.  She loves to share the intricacies of the game as well as the potential benefits it can bring to everyone involved. 


Leah Dawsey

Deaf Studies & History Teacher, ASL Teacher

Leah Dawsey was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana.She received her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Then she moved to Washington, D.C. to receive her first Master’s degree in Deaf Studies. After graduating from Gallaudet University, she stayed in town to receive her Museum Studies Certification from George Washington University. Moving back home to Louisiana, she began to work for the local public library for almost five years. During her time working for the library, Leah realized she wanted her second Master’s degree in Library Science which took her several years because I attended part time. She moved away again to California when she stopped working at the public library because of her husband’s job. She had her daughter in 2016 and moved back to Louisiana to be near family. Currently, she is a part time adjunct professor for University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Leah teaches ASL to the students  and in her local community. She is excited to join the organization, Art Play Learn, to teach about history, specifically Deaf history and World War II.  When she is not teaching, she loves to go for a run or a walk with her Weimaraner, Blue. You also could find her sitting somewhere reading a book or playing with her daughter.

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