BEST ARTS Presenter Biographies
John Archambault is a reknown American children’s book author, poet, storyteller and musician. He is well known for his best-selling children’s book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Among his most recognizable children’s books are Knots on a Counting Rope, Barn Dance, Boom Chicka Rock, Here Are My Hands, and The Birth of a Whale. John has traveled throughout the country, instilling the love of reading in children and teachers. He is also a popular keynote speaker at educational conferences and school presentations.
A professional musician since his early twenties, Willie Aron has a rich and eclectic musical background. He has been a studio and touring musician, as well as a film and television composer. He helped develop the curriculum and write original songs for a Los Angeles-based children’s music space and company called Play Music. A Grammy Award-nominated children’s music producer, Willie has invigorated kids’ music with a blend of irresistibly catchy original songs, a smattering of beloved favorites, and a gregarious, welcoming stage persona.
Theresa Embry has worked over 35 years in the early childhood education field in Santa Barbara, CA. Professional experiences include working as a preschool teacher, center director for a local non-profit agency and program coordinator for UC Santa Barbara. Theresa earned her graduate degree at CSUN. Subsequently, she has worked with Eric Nelson and the Outdoor Classroom Project’s team to provide county-wide transformational change in outdoor learning experiences for young children. Theresa loves to garden with children and enthusiastically works to increase the quality, quantity and benefit of children’s experiences outdoors.
Carrie Flint is a physical education specialist with over 20 years of teaching experience. She has taught preschool and higher in both public and private settings. Carrie is the owner of Musical PE Plus and has her own brain break CD “Get ‘Em Up, Moving, & Learning.” She helped write the California PE Curriculum Framework and the revision of the Adapted PE Guidelines. Carrie’s passion is contagious; she teaches with music 100% of the time. She is an experienced national speaker, currently traveling the country presenting for the Bureau of Education Research on strategies to improve physical education programs.
Annette Franquez is a knowledgeable and experienced Child Development educator. She has mentored college students during their practicum course work, as well as Wonderschool providers. She successfully generated two California Grant Proposals for the California State Preschool Program (CSPP). Annette is certified and experienced in conducting assessments in all CLASS ™ and ERS tools. She has provided comprehensive STEAM training for educators and providers and has completed the Program Administrative Scale (PAS) training.
Dr. Robyn Frey-Monell holds degrees from Columbia University Teachers College, UC Irvine and Westminster Choir College. Her scholarly research has centered on motivation, self-regulation, and how students learn. She has been a nationally featured soloist on the concert and oratorio stage and has performed a vast amount of symphonic choral and opera chorus repertoire throughout the United States. In addition to teaching applied voice at Biola University, Robyn owns and operates Music in the Heights, a business designed to bring music and teacher training into local preschool classrooms.
Angelica Hernandez has worked in the field of Early Childhood Education for 13 years, 7 of those at Long Beach City College Child Development Center & Learning Lab. Angelica is bilingual and has presented workshops and orientations for students, educators, and families at the local and national level. She maintains a Child Development Site Supervisor Permit. She earned her Associate of Arts degree from LBCC with a specialization in Infants and Toddlers and is currently majoring in Human Development with an emphasis on Diversity in Education. She was named 2017 Child 360 Educator of the Year.
L. Chérie Hogan
Chérie Hogan (“Miss Sure-Ree”) is an educator and mentor in Early Childhood Education at CSUN plus an adjunct instructor at a local community college. She has many years of experience with corporate and private Child Development programs and has helped to create multiple quality infant and toddler care programs.
Monik C. Jones-Davis
Monik C. Jones is the founder/director of Monik’s Creative Movement dance education company in Long Beach, CA. Monik has more than 20 years of experience teaching dance education for early childhood programs. She received her BA from UCLA and her MFA from UC Irvine. Monik has taught and performed nationally and internationally. She has served as a movement education specialist at Westwood Presbyterian Church Preschool for 18 years and has been an adjunct dance professor at various community colleges in Southern California for 13 years. She teaches various genres of dance, including African and Hip-Hop.
Maile Josiah-Juarez has worked in the field of Child Development for over 20 years as a preschool teacher, behaviorist, trainer, mentor, environmentalist and consultant. As a behavioral therapist, she developed her own business, “Just Believe,” which aims to work toward providing all children with quality care and education. She provides workshops, training and consultations to help develop success plans for children of all ability levels.
Sundrina Kofod has a degree in child development and has taught in a variety of classroom settings. She is driven by her passion for learning and teaching, and her family’s puppet business has nurtured her love of storytelling. She strives to inspire her fellow educators with magical, mindful ways of teaching through storytelling. Sundrina has been presenting storytelling workshops for the past 6 years at local and national conferences. Her goal is to make puppets and props “go-to” teaching tools for all educators of young children.
Sharron Krull has a B.S. in Education from Miami University (Ohio) and a California Community College ECE Teaching Credential. Sharron’s teaching experience spans over forty years with twenty of those years in the preschool classroom. She was a child development instructor at several community colleges and taught the creative activities class and science and math courses. Sharron is the co-author of “Circle Time Activities” and “Play Power: Games and Activities for Young Children.” As an Early Childhood Consultant/Trainer through her company Play Power, Sharron conducts staff trainings, workshops, and keynotes, sharing fun and engaging curriculum activities and resources.
Alycia McInnish has served the Early Childhood community for 25 years as a California Childhood Mentor and a State Preschool teacher. She has a passion for guiding educators, children, and families in developing necessary social-emotional skills. Through children’s literature, she shares many stories and is an energetic presenter who relates to educators and parents alike. Earning her Master’s degree at Cal State Fullerton, Alycia dedicated her research to studying the profound effect that nature, living things, and social literacy has on young children and their ability to develop to their best potential.
Ashley Mills Monaghan
Ashley Mills Monaghan is a #1 best selling, award winning children’s book author, musician and early childhood educator. She received her BFA degree from Chapman University and continued her education in Dublin, Ireland, where she completed her post-graduate degree in Early Childhood Montessori Education. Ashley has traveled extensively to a) share her lesson-based children’s books to inspire and encourage mindfulness and b) entertain children using her books and music. She has recently returned to the preschool classroom and is excited to share with others her knowledge of writing books and music for children, as well as her experience in practicing mindfulness.
As a Behavior Intervention Supervisor for Long Beach USD for the past 8 years, Michelle has spent the majority of her career working with preschool aged children with special needs. She is passionate about expanding the awareness and acceptance of neuro-diverse children in schools and in the community at large. Michelle earned her Master’s degree in Psychology and Research from Cal State Long Beach.
Sara Anne Quintanar
Sara Quintanar is a bilingual early childhood educator in the Los Angeles area. She teaches hundreds of children each week. As a teacher of diverse learning populations, she understands how music benefits all students, including those with special needs. Sara has recorded 5 albums for children in Spanish and English and continues to create content that is simple and easy for teachers to use in their daily routines.
Anna is a nationally recognized spokesperson on Art in Child Development. She is the author of two award-winning books and writes a popular blog on “Art & Creativity in Early Childhood Development.” Anna draws from 40 years of experience as an art teacher, art therapist, Peace Corps volunteer, teacher trainer, and director of community based youth programs. Her hands-on art workshops are known for getting people excited about their own creativity. Anna works as Training Director and Account Manager for Discount School Supply.
Jill Ruby-Wahba is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Registered, Board Certified Art Therapist with a private practice in Torrance, CA. Her 10+ years of experience and training includes working with a variety of populations, such as chronically mentally ill adults in hospitals, individuals in residential substance abuse recovery, and families, children/teens, couples and individuals in community-based mental health centers. She especially loves working with kids and their families, adults in recovery from addiction, and those affected by past trauma.
Catherine Scott has operated a successful high-quality childcare program in the city of Long Beach for 30 years. In addition, she is VP of Scott Marketing Group Inc., an organization dedicated to informing and training Family Child Care Providers in high-quality care and financial stability. Her dedication to advocacy and high-quality care is reflected in her deep involvement in Long Beach Childcare Network where she has served since 2005 as Executive Director. Catherine holds a Program Director Permit, a B.A. in Human Development, a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Pacific Oaks College, and a Family Development Credential from Cornell University. She is also a community college instructor.
Dr. Linsey Smith serves as Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy at the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. Linsey currently teaches courses on autism and occupational participation, lifespan development and leadership & evidence based practice. She also is an experienced clinician in a variety of settings within pediatrics, including school-based practice, early intervention, sensory integration and clinic-based services, and community integration & social skills programming. She has experience in mentoring students and clinicians, managing program enrollment, and coordinating student fieldwork placements.
Dr. Joan Surfus has been practicing in pediatrics for over 25 years. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy at USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and the Clinical Coordinator of Occupation Therapy at Pediatric Therapy Network in Torrance, California. Her focus has been in pediatric intervention with an emphasis in the areas of sensory integration, feeding, oral-motor and dysphagia, and autism spectrum disorders. She teaches regularly in these areas both nationally and internationally and spends her free time volunteering and teaching abroad.
Having worked with children who have special needs for the past 11 years, Melissa is passionate about early intervention and helping kids reach their highest potential. As a Behavior Intervention Supervisor for Long Beach USD, Melissa oversees the SUCSESS classrooms at Buffum Total Learning Center for preschool students with severe behavioral needs. Melissa earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Chapman University. She is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.