Learn more about our Summer Camp Artists and Instructors!

Our summer camps are led by talented local artists and instructors who work hard to lead the most engaging and creative camps for your child. Learn more about them below.

Brooke Benedix

Brooke’s first memorable spark of creative excitement came to her when she was in the fourth grade and was assigned to compose a rendition of a Vincent Van Gogh painting. She was absorbed in the smells of dripping paint on her palette, mixing colors on her paint brush, and sitting at a real easel like a real artist—it was like magic. This experience has informed her teaching ever since, and she sees it as her job to provide students with the tools and resources to create their own magic. She provides gentle guidance for students to create with their own voices and hopes to awaken them to the wonder of art.

Mayra Chavez

Mayra is a fiber artist whose work is inspired by a childhood growing up in Querétaro, Mexico. Her work consists primarily of embroidery and clothing constructions. Relying heavily on the use of colorful images and motifs, Mayra is inspired by life in her parents’ hometown of Hacienda Blanca. Her memories of the animals and plants in her beloved ranch serve as her artistic muses and can be found all over her work. Mayra received a Bachelor’s of Art in Applied Design from San Diego State University where she was awarded a scholarship for her artwork by the San Diego Creative Weavers Guild. Mayra is currently pursuing a Masters in Art Education through Boston University. Mayra joined the Teaching Artist team of The New Children’s Museum in March of 2015, and has led and assisted with several camp programs since that time.

Joseph “Mr. Dyno” Corrales

“Mr. Dyno” took his first step into the cypher (dance circle) 16 years ago and has not stopped Breakin’ since. With twelve years of teaching experience, Mr. Dyno credits his teachers and mentors from around the world for the knowledge that he is able to share with students and peers. Last year, he placed in the finals in a national Breakin’ dance tournament in Seattle, Washington and in an international tournament in the Netherlands. Aside from his studies and experiences in the art of Breakin,’ Mr. Dyno holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Personality and Social Psychology from San Diego State University. He applies wisdom learned from both worlds in his teaching approach.

Valerie Decastro

Valerie is a working artist inspired by letter forms and penmanship. She uses traditional forms of sign painting as well as old world craftsmanship and new world technology to create hand lettered and hand painted signs. For her, the art of lettering emphasizes structure and legibility with creativity. Valerie has extensive experience working with young people in the camp and after-school setting. She joined the Teaching Artist team of The New Children’s Museum in fall 2015 and has since led and assisted with several camp programs, working with students ages 4 and up. Outside of the museum, Valerie specializes in creating hand painted signage for local businesses.

Brittany Dumas

Brittany is an artist, community arts supporter, spoken word poet and performer with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art History from San Diego State University. In addition to being a commissioned artist in San Diego, she fulfilled the role of Education Outreach Program Evaluator and currently serves as a volunteer at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. Brittany has worked with San Diego State University Children’s Center since 2011, creating and facilitating art projects for toddlers in their annual A is for Art fundraiser. Here at The New Children’s Museum, Brittany works within the weekly Toddler Time program and has led and assisted with several camps.

Mark Dzula

Mark Dzula is an educator, artist, and scholar. He currently runs the library at the Webb Schools, a 9-12 boarding school in Claremont, CA. He has made the library a vibrant and welcoming place to all ages by including family programming that encourages play, musical exploration, and early literacy. In the past, Mark has worked as a museum educator, teaching artist, and leader of Jukebox Radio, an educational performance troupe. Imbued with his own love of lifelong learning, Mark endeavors to inspire curiosity, nurture ability, and make study fun for all.

Shelly Gabriel

Shelly is a long time educator who has worked with preschool through high school-aged children for the past 10 years. She currently resides in Boston, MA where she teaches high school special education. Her family currently owns a bakery, which she grew up with, and so was always surrounded by food. Shelly discovered her own love of cooking while in college and was inspired to teach herself the basics of cooking and baking. She still loves learning new things to this day! With her experience of working with children and love of food, she has found a passion in not only teaching kids how to cook but also giving them the tools to inspire them to be more adventurous with their food choices, to be more confident in their own skills, and to encourage their families to cook together. When Shelly is not in the kitchen, you can find her spending time cuddling with her dog, playing board games, or catching up on TV shows!

Troy Guard

Troy has been living and studying art in San Diego for the past 4 years at San Diego State University. Although his primary training is as a painter, he also experiments often with sculpture and digital illustration. Before having the opportunity to teach at the museum, Troy spent several years as a Jr. Lifeguard instructor in Orange County, CA. He has since continued to enjoy helping teach kids to foster adventurous and creative practices and skills. When he’s not inside making art or watching Star Wars with his cat, he enjoys adventuring, hiking, and slack-lining around the city.

Isabel Halpern

Isabel is a practicing artist and educator with a degree in Art Practice from UC Berkeley. She explores many different media, including sculpture, painting, and drawing. During college, she was also able to explore mural making, creating murals throughout student housing locations on campus. Isabel also enjoys teaching about art and she has devoted the majority of her work experience to working with children. She believes that it is essential to become totally immersed when teaching or playing with students, and feels it is most important to include imagination, encouragement, and participation into their experience. Isabel joined the Teaching Artist team of The New Children’s Museum in fall 2015, and has since led and assisted with several camp programs.

Paul Holbach

Paul is a San Diego Native and an artist with 5+ years of experience working with children of all ages and backgrounds. Through martial arts, Paul began teaching and coaching from a young age as a Certified Instructor with a black belt in Shotokan Karate. After graduating high school, Paul then moved on to begin assisting and teaching art in the San Diego School District through the program Art Reach. Paul describes himself as an Illustrator/character artist with a strong inspiration from street art, skateboarding, and music. He Joined the New Children’s Museum in March, 2016 as a Teaching Artist and has since led and assisted in several camp programs.

Amber Johnson

Amber has been teaching art to children and adults for the last 6 years. In college, Amber studied ceramics and sculpture, and has always been interested in bringing art into everyday life. She encourages the learning and imagination of all students through collaboration and creation. Amber is always experimenting with different techniques and processes in clay and in other materials. She is inspired by sunsets, clouds, pizza and plants. As a teacher, Amber loves to help kids challenge what they think is possible. Amber joined the Teaching Artist team of The New Children’s Museum in fall 2016, and she is excited to join the summer camp instructor team this year.

Amy Mayfield

Amy lives and works in San Diego. She received her Master of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006 and has had solo shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Three Walls Gallery in Chicago. Her work has been shown in group shows in Chicago, San Francisco, New York and Berlin. Currently she owns and operates Clay Munchkins, a small business providing clay classes to a number of public and private schools throughout San Diego County. Amy has been a regular instructor in The New Children’s Museum summer camp program.

Gina Mirtallo

Gina has been an early childhood educator and summer camp director for nine years. She graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Recreation Administration, has taken many child development courses, and most recently completed the multiple subject credential program at Cal State Teach. Gina has created and led camps for the City of Coronado, and is currently a preschool teacher for the Coronado Unified School District. She has worked with children of all ages in a variety of enriching programs. By far, Gina’s favorite activity to explore with children is art. She likes to focus on the creative process by celebrating each child’s unique point of view, and strives to provide a supportive environment where children feel safe and encouraged to try new things. When Gina is not in the classroom or at camp, she can most likely be found outdoors on an adventure with friends. She also loves to travel as much as possible to experience new people, places, and things.

Museum Playworker Collective, led by Megan Dickerson

Megan Dickerson’s official job title at The New Children’s Museum is Manager of Exhibition Development, but Museum regulars might know her under a different name: Agent Red Hawk. Megan is a practitioner and researcher in “playwork,” a UK-based practice in which adults (called “Playworkers”) support children in the ways in which children wish to play. Prior to coming to The New Children’s Museum, Megan worked at museums such as the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and Boston Children’s Museum, where she used program and exhibit development as forms of community organizing. Outside of museums, Megan is an artist with a playful social practice that has included projects such as the Bumpkin Island Art Encampment. Megan holds a BA in History from UCLA and a MA in Play and Playwork from the University of Gloucestershire. For more information on Megan’s approach, see her website www.takeplayseriously.org .

Gabrielle Romberger

Gabrielle completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art History from the University of San Diego. During her time in college, she focused on drawing – working with pastels, charcoal, and graphite. Gabrielle also has experience with sewing, painting, carpentry, and sculpture. She has interned at the University of San Diego Galleries as well as the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. where she was the Youth and Family Programs Assistant for Corcoran’s Youth Summer Art Classes and through which she led many of the workshops for kindergarten through twelfth-grade class visits. Gabrielle joined the Teaching Artist team of The New Children’s Museum in fall 2015, and she has since led and assisted with several camp programs.

Maria Sales

Maria received her Bachelor’s degree in Art with an emphasis in Multimedia from San Diego State University. She prefers to work mainly with digital art forms such as photography, three-dimensional design, animation, and film. She is currently a Teaching Artist here at the New Children’s museum as well as teaches at other local arts organizations. Maria’s favorite part of her job at The New Children’s Museum is teaching and inspiring others in art. Maria joined the Teaching Artist team in January of 2015, and has since led and assisted with several camp programs.

Iris Thompson

Iris describes herself as biology major with a less than secret love for the arts. She appreciates the intricacies and romantic mysteries behind the science of the earth. She has also been busy over the last year exploring her interest in folk dancing, and regularly practices with that community here in the San Diego. She has experience teaching both at The New Children’s Museum, where she has been a member of the Teaching Artist team since the fall of 2015 as well as the San Diego Zoo, where she worked within camp programs. She has also held specialized positions such as working in an art-focused camp, as well as a job as an inclusion aide where she facilitated integrated experiences for every child.

Elizabeth Wepsic

Elizabeth has been a committed and well known visual arts instructor in the San Diego community for over twenty years. She is National Board Certified and has an active background in Person Centered Education. Elizabeth fosters an individualistic learning environment that encourages authentic self-awareness. She encourages her students let go of their fears and judgments and decide to let art into their lives. Her art classes are a place to be oneself, to be playful, and to be curious. She is best known for facilitating great freedom of expression and encouraging students to follow their own path in art.

Cassie White

Cassie White is an artist and art educator who believes every child is an artist and seeks to empower children to grow in their unique artistic expression by making discoveries about art and the world around them. Cassie is entering her final year at Point Loma Nazarene University where she is studying and experimenting with painting and installation work. In her journey as an artist, Cassie’s favorite experiences have included teaching “en plein air” (in the outdoors) painting classes, creating collaborative art activities in an after school program and designing and creating stage sets at her university. When she is not painting or building art installations, Cassie loves tending to her porch garden, roller skating with friends and collecting sea shells where the sand meets the sea.