Online Office Hours


Most of our teachers and organizers are homeschooling parents with families, and our evenings and weekends are spent with our families.  All inquiries and messages sent to teachers and organizers will be answered as soon as possible within 72 hours of receipt of the communication.

Refund Policy: There are no refunds for students who withdraw  after the term begins, or are asked to leave a class for breaking our behavior policy.  Teachers base their expenses on the number of students they have at the beginning of the term.  All teachers and organizers at Different Directions are responsible for their own expenses including space fee, assistant fees and supplies. Once a class has begun, the money paid to the teacher has been distributed to space, assistants (if needed) and materials. They have paid these non refundable fees under the agreement that your child will be in attendance for the term. Once the term has begun the spot your child holds cannot be replaced. 

 Drop in Classes: There is a $35 fee to be paid directly to the teacher for sitting in on a class. Class observations are at the discretion of the teacher.  Not all classes are open for visiting. If you would like to observe a class at Different Directions you must contact the teacher via the inquiry button on the class page and wait for the teacher to set up an observation appointment. We are not prepared for drop in visitors at our studio.  Thank you for respecting the privacy and safety of our children.

Visiting Policy

Different Directions is a private organization geared toward working with minor children. We do not have open on-site office hours or the capacity for unannounced visits. Please do not stop by our studio unannounced. If you are interested in a class or event, please click on the inquiry button for that class or event and you will hear from the organizer regarding your inquiry.  We do have open events for the community that will be announced on our events page.

Absences: If your child is not going to be in class please call or email the teacher so they know your child is not coming.  Different Directions does not have the ability to offer make up days or prorate the class fee for sickness, traveling, acts of nature or humane error outside of Different Directions. IE: storms, snow, hurricanes, train or bus trouble, terrorists etc.  If a teacher is sick they will schedule a makeup day (if there is an open day available) or offer some compensation such as (but not exclusively) a discount for the next term. 


Contact Information

339 West 47th Street
third floor
New York, New York 10036
United States


Tinamarie Panyard, Operating Director

Tinamarie is a homeschooling mom and a professional storyteller whose been working with children and adults throughout the country for over 25 years. For the past 21 years she has worked in New York public and private schools as a teaching artist facilitating literacy and community building through storytelling, family and professional workshops, creative drama and improvisation. She has a degree in Theatre Performance and Music. Before moving to New York in 1993, Tinamarie toured through schools around the country working with children, and communities on violence prevention and literacy. From the mid-nineties to 2002, she worked on Wall Street as a corporate writer, trainer and lecturer. Having been with Different Directions since the beginning, first as a parent and a teacher, she is grateful to see this learning lab expand and grow. In August 2001, while working as the Director of Children's Programing for the New York International Fringe Festival, she met her now husband Elie.  Since that summer, they have been collaborating on theatre, art and their most marvelous creation, their incredible daughter. 

Board of Directors

Tinamarie Panyard 
See description above.

Erynn Albert
Erynn is the homeschooling mother of four children and the wife of pop-artist Michael Albert, founder of Sir Real Juice. She taught special education, sold and marketed natural foods, and is currently a business consultant for Tri State Natural Food Products. She spent the last 20 years investigating, creating and facilitating as well as meeting, greeting and experiencing a wide range of people, places and things.  While encouraging her children in their educational pursuits, she co-founded and operated Backyard Birds Theater (5yrs), organized many and various classes, and became involved with wonderful organizations such as School for Strings, New York City Opera, Metropolitan Opera, The Pied Piper Theater, NYCHEA and many others. She appreciates the opportunity through  Different Directions to connect those who like to teach with those who would like to learn and to help showcase the fruits of their labors. 

Eric Probst 
Eric is an artisan baker, musician and homeschooling dad. In the late eighties and early nineties he worked as an organizer for Peace and Justice issues in Chicago with Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy, ILPIRG, ACORN and Nicaragua Solidarity Committee. He attended New York State University at Buffalo for legal studies.  Eric has stage managed and produced theatre in New Orleans, Chicago and New York.

Melle Randall
Melle Randall, Founder and Coordinating Director of The ROC, is a homeschooling mother of three, who works as an independent contractor in administrative, design and events planning with a wide variety of clients ranging from Chase Bank to the New York Lactation Consultant Association. Melle earned her BA from Wesleyan University, MA and PhD Certificates from UCLA and UC Riverside respectively.  

Michael Albert
Michael Albert is a Pop Artist & businessman who is the Owner and operator of  Sir Real Juice Company. Upon graduating from NYU’s School of Business & Public Administration in 1988, he started his first company, a specialty food distribution company .He then set out on his own to found a Natural Food Distribution company called Tri-State Natural Foods. A few years later he created his own brand and in 1993, he started Sir Real TM, a line of All Natural/Organic fruit juices for which he conceived of the brand and created all original art, designed the labels, and today still owns & operates the company. Albert is also an internationally recognized Pop Artist and educator, who travels extensively producing the Michael Albert Pop Art  Experience. He is the father of four children and has been married for 23 years.


In 2009, Different Directions, Inc. was founded by three homeschooling parents. They had spent the previous decade producing and directing full-scale theatrical productions in which their children and other students performed. In between they put together classes for toddlers to teens in every subject from fingerpainting to quantum physics. Rita-Jo (R-J) Houston, Erynn Albert and Penny Kjellberg met through NYCHEA (New York City Home Educators Alliance) as they worked together to provide a rich arts education for their children and others in the organization. They started Different Directions in order to offer a wider curriculum to a broader audience. Each brings a wealth of life, education and business experience to our organization.

Rita-Jo (R-J), Co-Founder
With a theater and arts background that includes ten years as a professional dancer with various ballet companies and membership in both SAG and AFTRA, R-J moved behind-the-scenes as choreographer and director of nine student productions before starting Different Directions.  She not only directs existing works, but also conceives original shows, tailor-made to meet the educational and social needs of youth. In addition to being a homeschooling mother of four, R-J's experiences in working with youth include being President of the New York, New York Stake Young Women’s Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Erynn Albert, Co-Founder
See description above

Penny Kjellberg, Co-Founder
Prior to co-founding Different Directions Penny produced numerous student productions. She has owned and operated a number of businesses including a marketing and PR agency (The Kjellberg Studio) and a skin care company (Simone France).  She is a former beauty editor of Seventeen Magazine, a feature writer for magazines such as Harper's Bazaar and Elle among others and the author of "The Editorial Approach."  Penny served as Executive Board Member and Operations Director of Different Directions from its inception through May of 2012.  Penny took her daughters out of public school in the third grade and used New York City, national and international travel, and theater as their classroom.  She thanks her daughters, Caroline and Jessica, for teaching her what education is really all about.