guest educator presenters


Paul Messerle is an artist, teacher, shamanic practitioner, and an initiated High Priest for the Cabot Kent Hermetic Temple. Paul teaches college-articulated Career Technical Education (CTE) courses at Rancho Bernardo High School and has had graduates go on to work for Cartoon Network, DreamWorks Animation, Nickelodeon, Sony Online Entertainment and The Walt Disney Studios, among others.

Paul’s lifelong journey of self-discovery has made him a passionate advocate for social justice and equality in schools. His determination to help students embrace their authenticity within a creative, safe and transformative learning environment led to him being designated as a San Diego County Teacher of the Year in 2016. He has conducted writing workshops at the San Diego County Office of Education for successive teacher of the year candidates, and guest presented at Cox Communication’s annual “Salute to Teachers”.

Paul has been a longtime advocate of rights for the LGBTQIA+ population and was designated the North County LGBTQ Resource Center’s 2016 Ambassador of the Year, as well as being featured as a TEDx presenter the following year. Messerle’s classroom mantra is “Know Thyself”, and he has been sending confident, self-realized students out to explore the wonders of the world for over 25 years. He revels when his alumni return to share in their encounters with greatness.


Susan Blackwell’s work as a creativity coach is informed by her life as a Broadway, film + TV actor, + a writer. She created + played characters based on herself in the original Broadway musical [title of show], + the off-Broadway musical NOW. HERE. THIS. She hosts the chat show ‘Side by Side by Susan Blackwell’ on, now in its 11th year. She is a proud co-host of The Spark File podcast. Areas of specialty include acting, writing, interviewing + communication. 

Laura Camien’s work as a creativity coach has been shaped by her work as a Broadway producer ([title of show]), playwright + screenwriter. She was a long time VP of Communications for Blue Man Group, + Creative Director + Head Writer for Blue Man Group’s book, Blue Man World. She is a proud co-host of The Spark File podcast. Areas of specialty include producing, public speaking, media training, writing + communication.

Laura + Susan have been creative collaborators for 20+ years. All of this experience + expertise culminates in The Spark File podcast, their co-coaching practice + workshops.


Laurie Barber has been working in arts education and arts administration for over 20 years.  She has worked for Aids Services Foundation, Segerstrom Center for the Arts and Orange County School of the Arts. 

She currently works part-time for Arts Schools Network and part-time with preschoolers w/ special needs. 

Some fun facts about Laurie:

  • She is a visual artist and her preferred medium is clay.  
  • She went to culinary school and can make a mean chocolate chip scone.
  • She loves a good spreadsheet and color coding is her jam.
  • Her goal is to visit all the National parks.  12 down, 47 to go!
  • She rode her bike 556 miles from San Francisco to LA. She highly recommends an adventure like this for everyone!
  • She played basketball in high school and it saved her.  Not to brag, but her team was league champs 4 years in a row.
  • She was taught the importance of craftsmanship at a young age. 
  • She is a recovering self-critic
  • She is an angry optimist
  • Her life’s calling is to find ways to increase access to the arts for everyone and she is always looking for co-conspirators


Jared Cassedy is the K-12 Performing Arts Coordinator for the Lexington Public School System in Lexington, Massachusetts where he also conducts the LHS Wind Ensemble.  He is the 2015 recipient of the GRAMMY Music Educator Award furnished by the GRAMMY Foundation and The Recording Academy having been selected out of a pool of more than 7,200 nominees nationwide.  He is currently the Massachusetts Music Educators Association North Eastern District Chair-Elect and also served as President-Elect for the New Hampshire Music Educators Association (NHMEA) before coming to Massachusetts.      

Jared began his career in 2005 as a music teacher at Windham Middle School, in Windham, NH and was appointed as the first Director of Bands for the newly constructed Windham High School directing all instrumental ensembles in 2009.  Until 2016, Jared held the position as Director of K-12 Fine Arts responsible for the supervision and evaluation of teachers as well as the development of curriculum for the music, visual arts, technical arts, and FACS programs while also maintaining his position as the high school Director of Bands.  From 2016 to 2018 Jared spent two years working as the first Director of K-12 Performing Arts for the Salem School District in New Hampshire (his alma mater) where he helped to define, develop, and strengthen the department’s capacity through curriculum and assessment development, collaboration, teacher supervision and effectiveness, and district-wide programming.

Jared’s continued collaboration with his students and colleagues has enabled his ensembles to be selected to participate in a myriad of national performances and festivals in New York City (National Band and Orchestra Festival at Carnegie Hall and the New York Wind Band Festival at Carnegie Hall), Chicago (Festival of Gold), and at the Bands of America (BOA) National Band Festival sponsored by Music for All and Yamaha in Indianapolis.  His ensembles have also been selected to perform at the NAfME Eastern Division Conference and for the Mayor of Quebec City and Governor of Montreal.  

Jared is also the conductor of the New England Conservatory Preparatory School’s Jr. Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble, a position he has held since 2016 where he works with students within the Greater Boston area who rehearse and perform actively throughout the school year.  Previous to this, Jared was the director of the NH Youth Wind Ensemble.  He has conducted a myriad of regional honor bands across all states in New England, has given a variety of lectures on leadership and best practices in teaching including an upcoming presentation at the 75th Annual International Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, and has participated in TEDx talking about his journey and philosophies through education.  In 2011 the New Hampshire Band Directors Association honored Jared with the “Outstanding Young Band Director of the Year Award.”  He was also nominated for New Hampshire Teacher of the Year in 2014.  Jared graduated Summa cum Laude from the University of New Hampshire – Durham where he received his Bachelors of Music degree in Music Education and has a Masters of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Educational Leadership from Southern New Hampshire University.  He is a member of NAfME, MMEA, NBA, and ASCD, and the prestigious Pi Lambda Theta Education Honors Society.



Danielle Collins is the Chair of the Music, Media, Entertainment Technology Department at the Academy for the Performing Arts at Huntington Beach High School.

She serves on the board of the California Band Directors Association, as the President of Pulse Percussion, Inc., and is the Professional Music Lead for the California State Department of Education CTE Arts, Media, and Entertainment.

Danielle has taught adjunct in several CSU Music Education Programs and presents nationally on student-led personalized learning models and commercial music in secondary programs.


Shelly Nichols is the definitive “triple threat.” Her non-stop energy has motivated students and brought audiences to their feet across the country and around the world.

Hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas, Shelly began her Disney career when she was cast as the featured dancer with Disney’s All-American College Band in 1979. She is proudly celebrating her 40th year at the Disneyland Resort!

She developed the Show Choir program with Magic Music Days 29 years ago and is currently a teaching artist with Disney Performing Arts. Shelly’s belief in educating the talent of the future came full circle when she became the choreographer /show director of the “All American College Band” for 13 years.

Shelly’s Disney performing career has been vast and diverse. It includes such traditional shows as: Disney Medley, The Golden Horseshoe Jamboree, Show Biz Is, Magic Kingdom Kabaret, Hunchback of Notre Dame, “Calling All Space Scouts” a Buzz Lightyear Adventure, Pecos Bill’s Wildwest Revue, and Fantasy Follies. In 1983 she was a member of the opening cast of Tokyo Disneyland’s “Kid’s of the Kingdom” as well as the original “Diamond Horseshoe Revue”, where she played “Slue Foot Sue.” She continues to perform for Disney in various shows & special events. She loves spreading pixie dust!

Shelly has also touched the lives of performing arts students across the Southern California area as an educator at the College of the Desert, developing the tap dance program at the Orange County High School of the Performing Arts, and is currently on staff with Orange County Song & Dance. Shelly was the clinician/choreographer for McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign, where she trained Ronald McDonald to dance.

She is a member of Actor’s Equity and her stage credits include: 42nd Street, Jesus Christ Superstar, Strike Up the Band (So. CA tour) & the National Tour of Grease. She originated the role of Miss Annie at Wild Bill’s Dinner Theater and currently sings with The Swing Machine, a SWINGIN’ Big Band!

Shelly is the owner and creative director of “Overture Productions,” which provides atmosphere talent for corporate and holiday special events. Some of her Overture clients include: Sony Studios, Paramount Studios, the Queen Mary & Disney Special Events. She has taught performance workshops to students from Anchorage, Alaska to Melbourne, Australia and looks forward to the next opportunity to share her industry experience with performing arts students of all ages.

Her passion is contagious, as she strives to pass along the “etiquette of the arts!” Her motto is, and always will be: “FULL OUT! First time, every time, all the time….no matter what!”


Janece Shaffer, a third generation Atlantan, loves the maple tree in her front yard, the wisdom of Priya Parker, cold watermelon in summer, and a great story. For more than two decades, she debuted her highly anticipated plays on the Alliance Theatre stage including The Geller Girls, Managing Maxine, Broke, Bluish, He Looks Great in a Hat and her most recent work, a musical titled Troubadour, which featured original music by Grammy Award-winning Sugarland star Kristian Bush.

After 20 years of crafting stories for the stage, Shaffer was eager to teach others what she had learned about creating powerful stories. Instead of creating an experience that unfolded in a theater, she set out to teach storytelling strategies via workshops and one-on-one coaching with the same kind of impact, emotion, understanding and connection whether in a boardroom or a classroom or a living room. And so in 2017 she launched her company, StoryReady, and has since worked with Georgia Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Georgia Power and The Home Depot. She’s created a signature storytelling curriculum that is now required for all biomedical engineering students at Georgia Tech. Shaffer is also currently leading a year-long, story-based leadership program for more than 100 engineering educators at the most respected higher ed institutions in the country.

Her writing credits also include the film, Monster, which debuted at the 2018 Sundance Festival and is now featured on Netflix; presenting a reading of her adaptation of Our Town with Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr.; and collaborating with Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon on a piece based on personal narratives.

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