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The Monmouth Arts 2024 Arts Education Awards will be held on Friday, May 3rd, 2024
at 6:00PM at Monmouth University, Rechnitz Hall - DiMattio Gallery.  




Honoring Paint the Stars Art Therapy

Robyn Schindler/Owner/Therapist

Robyn is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Professional Art Therapist (LPAT), Registered and Board-certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC) and a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). She has been working with children, adolescents, and young adults for over almost two decades in schools, counseling programs and hospitals. She has her educational background in Mental Health Counseling (2006) as well as Clinical Art Therapy (2008) and has studied play and sand-tray therapy techniques. Robyn started her private practice, Paint the Stars, in 2012 with the goal of helping children feel better by getting in touch with their creative side. She has always believed in community outreach and staying in touch with various communities within the state, specifically with an interest in bringing the healing arts to communities in need. This along with helping children and creating art has always been a passion of hers. 

Robyn specializes in children suffering from anxiety, depression, anger issues, school/peer/family related issues as well as good and sensory issues. She recently added author to her resume after publishing a chapter (Resilience of Youth Overcoming Divorce Related Stressors) in the book, “Art Therapy Practices for Resilient Youth” as well as writing and illustrating her first children’s book entitled, “Three Brave Stars,” which helps children and families coping with grief. Robyn and Paint the Stars have been featured in several magazines and interviews highlighting the importance of both the creative arts and creative arts therapies. 



Honoring Sam Giustiniani

Vice President, Education & Outreach - Count Basie Center for the Arts

Samantha Giustiniani earned her BFA in Theatre Performance from Kean University and her MA in Shakespeare and Theatre at the University of Birmingham in England. As an arts administrator, teaching artist, actor, and director, Samantha is passionate about arts education, equity, and access for all. Giustiniani started as a Count Basie Center for the Arts teaching artist in 2010, and now serves as their Vice President of Education & Outreach. She has been instrumental in the growth of the organization’s education efforts and its current efforts to endow hundreds of annual scholarships for students and community members to experience the arts. 


Honoring Anthony Greco

Drama Specialist, Rumson Country Day School

Resident Director, Marlboro High School

Arts Education + Outreach Manager, Count Basie Center for the Arts

Mr. Greco was born and raised in Monmouth County; and is a graduate of Monmouth University earning degrees in English + Theatre Arts. Anthony is the Arts + Education Outreach Manager at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank working with schools across the state to share experiences with the arts whether onstage or in the audience. He is the proud founder of CBC’s Student Production program which produces full-scale productions for children. Since its inception in the fall of 2015 the program has done over 60 shows and has reached thousands of students and their families. For the past nine years, he has been a proud faculty member of the Rumson Country Day School as their Drama Specialist. Anthony is the resident director at Marlboro High School since 2012 and over the past decade has worked with the administration, colleagues, and students to build a program recognized with several awards and honors at the county and state level. Mr. Greco has proudly served on several Board of Directors including Phoenix Productions, the Axelrod Performing Arts Center, and Center Players. No matter where and in what role, he believes it is vital to make the arts accessible to, and for, all!



Honoring Jessica Merrigan

English & Yoga Teacher, SEL Facilitator

Henry Hudson Regional School


Jessica Merrigan has been an English Teacher in NJ for the past thirteen years, currently educating High School English classes and electives at Henry Hudson Regional School in Highlands, NJ. Jessie received her BA in English (2010) and Masters in Education at Quinnipiac University ( 2011). Jessie is currently continuing her education by pursuing her second Masters Degree in Transformative Teaching and Leadership. Jessica has taught diverse classes throughout NJ, ranging from British, American and World Literature, to AP Literature & Composition and AP Language & Composition. Jessie has also taught electives, such as Acting, Creative Writing, Writing Essentials and Public Speaking. Extracurricularly, Jessie started a Yoga and Wellness program for both students and staff this year, and she currently advises the Student Council and Journalism Club. Since she was a child, Jessie was smitten by the arts, often singing along to musical theater and diving into stories that swept her away. Throughout her own experience in education, from childhood through adulthood, Jessie found that reading and writing profoundly affected her well being, making it clear that one of her life's purposes was to share the impact of this art with others, her students especially. Jessie's classes are ignited by her passion for words, teaching students how to recognize their thoughts and find their voices through reading and writing. Jessie believes that the Literary Arts are extremely important to humanity, as it is the arts that help people to learn, heal, unite, raise awareness, and generate compassion and understanding for ourselves and others. She is completely humbled by this award and looks forward to helping future students find the power in words.



Honoring Mary Dansereau

Visual Arts Teacher, Neptune High School

Mary Dansereau is a Neptune Township High School Visual Arts teacher. Her degrees are a BA in Visual Arts and a master’s in education. She began her teaching career in Elementary Art in 2004 and transferred to High School Art in 2009. She is passionate not only about facilitating innovative minds but creating safe, nurturing and inviting spaces for her students to explore. Mrs. Dansereau uses her knowledge of diverse learners to adapt projects to meet the needs of all her students including the Visually impaired. She is a leader in the art department and supports novice teachers through professional development. Mrs. Dansereau has a deep connection to the Neptune Community. She and her students have painted the windows of local businesses and created several murals including one at the Neptune Police Department.  She teaches Art I, Art II, Crafts, facilitates the Art Club and organizes the school's participation in the Monmouth County Teen Arts Festival. She was awarded Teacher of the Year in 2017-2018.



Community Arts Education Organization

Axelrod Performing Arts Center


Arts Organization Advocate Leader

Kelly Barratt, Center for the Arts at Monmouth University

Outstanding Educators in Visual Art and Performing Arts

Scott Napolitano, Howell High School

Lawrence Edwards, Shore Regional High School & Monmouth University

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Community Arts Education Organization

Domenica Donna Como, Color Chips


Arts Organization Advocate Leader

Jeremy Martin, Long Branch Public Schools

Outstanding Educators in Visual Art and Performing Arts

Brittany James, Inspired Minds Fine Arts School and art629 Gallery

Dr. Michael Penna, Ph.D., Collier High School



Community Arts Education Organization

Middletown Arts Center


Arts Organization Leaders

John Dias, Michael Hurst, & Kate Cordaro, Two River Theater

Community Champion of the Arts

Dr. Ryan Brandau, Monmouth Civic Chorus


Arts Education Advocate

Norma Tolliver, Main Ave Galleria

Outstanding Educators in Visual Art and Performing Arts

Jill Alexander, Wall High School

Cindy Dwyer, Mater Dei Prep

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Community Arts Education Organization

Two River Theater


Arts Organization Leader

Bruce Gallipani, Rockit Live! Foundation


Community Champion of the Arts

Nicholas & Shayne Mishoe, Company of Dance Arts

Arts Education Advocate

Heather Brown Cadalzo, Inspired Minds Fine Art School


Outstanding Educators in Visual and Performing Arts

Kate Okeson, Rumson-Fair Haven High Regional High School

Benjamin Ringer, New Jersey State Youth Orchestra

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Community Arts Education Organization

Jennifer Chauhan & Allison Tevald, Project Write Now 


Arts Organization Leader

Mark Hyczko, Freehold Downtown Concert Series


Community Champion of the Arts

Michelle Burrell, Asbury Park Technical Academy of Dance

Arts Education Advocate

July Nagy, Algonquin Arts Theatre


Outstanding Educators in Visual and Performing Arts

Tonya Lee, Art Instructor, Monmouth University

Eric Gross, Music Educator, Freehold High School


Community Arts Education Organization

Belmar Arts Center


Arts Organization Leader

David Levy & Leslie Backlund, Co-Presidents, Guild of Creative Art


Community Champion of the Arts

Sarah Hilton, Arts Educator, Oasis

Arts Education Advocate

Richard McKenna, Senior Vice President of Sales, Hatteras


Outstanding Educators in Visual and Performing Arts

Judy Raybon, Visual Arts Educator, Collier Youth Services

Gerald Romano, Director of Bands, Monmouth Regional High School

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