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Russell Granet Arts Education Resource (AER) founder Russell Granet is an internationally recognized leader with more than 20 years of experience in arts education. He draws on his background as an academic, artist, and teaching artist in his work with cultural institutions, nonprofits, and public and private schools to ensure that all students receive a sequential, quality arts education. Granet founded AER after a decade at The Center for Arts Education (CAE) - The NYC Annenberg Challenge, where he was Director of Professional Development. Prior to joining CAE, he was Director of Education at The American Place Theatre and a senior teaching artist at the Creative Arts Team. Since 1995 he has been on the faculty at New YorkUniversity, where he developed and teaches the course Drama with Special Populations. 

Granet’s career has been greatly influenced by his work with students with disabilities as well as their teachers and caregivers.  He serves on the boards of The Association of Teaching Artists, The American Alliance of Theatre and Education, The American Place Theatre, The Maktaba Project, and was a founding board member of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable and the chair of arts education for the Columbia County (NY) Arts Council. A frequent commencement and keynote speaker, conference presenter, and panelist on arts education, Granet has worked on projects in Egypt, England, India, Kenya, Mexico, Tanzania, Turkey, and throughout the United States. He is a graduate of EmersonCollege, The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and holds an M.A. in education from New YorkUniversity. 

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Robyn BurlandRobyn Burland is a playwright and teacher in a performing arts high school in the Bronx. She specializes in creating original group performance pieces with New York City teens, particularly "Living Newspaper" style plays about contemporary issues. Two of the most recent are "Our Space," about the internet, and "No Glove, No Love," about teen pregnancy. She is a New Visions Fund for Teachers Fellow, which allowed her to travel to England to study with theatre companies such as Frantic Assembly and Improbable Theatre that practice physical theatre. Robyn is also a SURNDA Teaching Artist Fellow, and performed in The Bacchae at the Hydrama Theatre in Hydra, Greece, this past summer. Robyn Burland is a member of Circle East Theatre Company, founded by Lanford Wilson and Marshall Mason, and an associate artist with the Obie-winning New Georges. She received her Masters in Playwriting from Columbia University in 1994.


Tracy Cook-Person is currently a teacher at Benjamin Banneker Academy. She holds a baccalaureate degree in Psychology, a Master's degree in Secondary education with a concentration in English and a certificate in Administration. She has been an educator with the New York City Department of Education for nine years and a curriculum writer for twelve years. She designed literacy and arts programs for University Settlement, Weeksville Historical Society and has written curriculum for a collaboration between Benjamin Banneker Academy and Irondale Theatre Ensemble group. She has presented workshops for District 17 in Brooklyn, Medgar Evers College, and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Tracy was a teaching artist from 2004 - 2007 and has worked with organizations such as Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library and Henry Street Settlement. She was named Who's Who of American Teachers from 2004-2007, and has was awarded the Claes Nobel prize for teaching 2009-2011.


Darrin L. Person holds a Professional Teaching License in Theatre from the State of New York. In addition, he holds a B.G.S. in Film Studies and an M.F.A in Theatre. He has taught theatre and drama with the New York City Department of Education for seven years. He was a member of the teaching staff in theatre for the Harlem School of the Arts for 2 years and was on the committee for the New York City's Department of Education's Office of Arts and Special Projects. The committee was responsible for creating the Arts Achieve Assessment for New York City high schools. He is currently a theatre instructor for the Medgar Evers College Preparatory School.


Alex Sarian is the Director of Education at MCC Theater, where he oversees all administrative and programmatic matters of the Education Department, including NYC DOE partnerships, post-show talkbacks and the MCC Youth Company. In addition, he is responsible for the expansion of education programs during MCC’s $25MM move into its new cultural home in midtown Manhattan. Sarian presents internationally, is a recent TEDx speaker for the IB, serves on the board of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable, and is an arts education advisor for Americans for the Arts, serving over 150,000 members nationwide.


S. Leigh Thompson is a social justice artist, a critical educator and the Co-Founder of The Forum Project (, a New York-based project of artist-advocates who work to offer creative methods through which individuals and communities can explore and understand the world, their community and their lives. Leigh has a degree in Theatre with an emphasis in Directing, and an MA from Gallatin at New York University, focusing on utilizing Theatre of the Oppressed for political and social change. He has studied Theatre of the Oppressed techniques for thirteen years and has worked with Augusto Boal on several occasions. Leigh currently serves on the Board of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc. and has been a member since 2001.

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