Meet our Board
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.
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 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, 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 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
Stephanie Campos has a PhD in Anthropology and certificate in Women’s Studies. She has taught courses in race/ethnicity, gender, cultural anthropology, sociology and women’s studies at the college level. She currently administers a public health research study in NYC. A mother of two daughters, she has been homeschooling for 15 years.
Brandon has been teaching homeschool classes at Different Directions since 2014. He has a passion for sharing his love of science, history, and current events with his students. Brandon is a homeschool dad, musician, and massage therapist, currently living in Georgia. After taking a year off to move, Brandon is so happy to be back at DD this year.
Language Arts, health
Using proven methods from over 20 years of homeschooling her three children, Miranda brings lightness to study that should be fun, with respect for learning and students. She has taught alternative education classes in multiple subjects for the last 12 years. Miranda is also an artist and writer, studied at SUNY/FIT and SVA, is a certified Integrative Nutrition™ Health Coach and registered Yoga Teacher (RTY-200).
Science, Physics, History, Civics, Math, Journalism
I have taught science, history, and writing at Different Directions since 2015. I homeschooled with my two (now adult) daughters. In addition to teaching classes for homeschoolers since 2004, I have taught and tutored students ranging from toddlers (supervising a summer program while working at a Montessori school), to junior high students (homework tutoring in a public school), to high school students (currently teaching four algebra classes), to college students (assistant teaching language classes), to grandparents (tutoring GED students through the Westchester Library System).
Teaching and learning are my favorite things to do
Elijah Warrington is a longtime NYC homeschooler. He has worked on the technical side of Different Directions’ Acting Out classes for a while, as sound engineer (City of Earth, 2020) and lighting designer (The Missing Page, 2019), as well as designing a rear projection system while acting in DD’s Into Oz (2018). He works as an Explainer at the NY Hall of Science. He enjoys playing the guitar in his spare time.
Acting Out Director, Elementary Education
Mary is a professional performer and educator born and raised in NYC. She is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and is currently finishing her BFA at The New School.
Mary has 12+ years of teaching experience both in theater and
education. She is passionate about education and the idea of learning
through living. She has taught for a wide variety of schools
throughout New York including Bank Street, Little Lead Preschool and The Lucy Moses School- she has also assisted in several DD classes over the years. Working with homeschoolers has always been and will always be her favorite. As the daughter of one of Different Directions’ Co-founders- she had the honor of being a student in the first ever Different Directions class in 2009. Being back at DD is so exciting and special. “It is a breath of fresh air to be back with my people! I cannot wait to create and learn with you.”
Olena has been interested in mathematics and problem solving from a very young age. She has a gold and silver medal from the International Mathematical Olympiad and a Ph.D in mathematics from Stanford University. She’s always loved teaching and currently teaches online classes for advanced high school students through Art of Problem Solving. She’s passionate about mathematical education and is looking forward to bringing that enthusiasm to Different Directions!
Laurie Heineman is an experienced teacher, author, mom, and Emmy winning actor, who loves having fun as students of all ages ‘play’ in depth. Laurie follows her great mentor Albert Cullum in helping each person find his or her own touch of greatness- knowing that whether one learns quickly or at a slower pace, engages easily or with hesitation, each is unique and gifted. Her BA is from Harvard and her Masters from Pratt. Laurie’s acting resume includes on and off Broadway, films, television and lots of Shakespeare. She was last seen as Judge Sweeny in the 2016 Academy Award winning movie Spotlight. Laurie is also a board certified arts therapist and certified teacher. She has taught classes with home schoolers since 2010, as well as in private and public schools for years.
Music Director, Composer
Omar is a composer, arranger, performer, and educator based in New York City. He loves telling stories through music, whether it’s by scoring music for film, TV, or games, or by composing for musical theater. He also enjoys orchestrating or arranging any kind of music, and sings and plays piano and guitar. He believes that the stories we tell can be transformative, and music can be a key part of how we communicate and connect. After spending his early childhood in Egypt, he moved back to New York City, where he found a home at a community children's theater and learned the value of a great arts education. He loves to perform and to work with kids, and spent several summers as a counselor and then as the assistant program director for the Pied Piper Children's Theatre's summer program. He recently graduated from college with a degree in music, and spent last summer as the music apprentice at Rosie’s Theater Kids Summer program. He is passionate about passing on his love for the arts, whether it’s by teaching music and musicianship, organizing and facilitating fun team building adventures, or putting on shows. He is an enthusiastic and adaptable collaborator, and loves to work with creative people of all ages.
Dan Allen is a local writer and artist from Manhattan, who recently graduated from Hampshire college with a focus on animation, creative writing, and storyboarding. He was homeschooled throughout middle and high school, and is now continuing his own studies, while also passing what he's learned to other homeschoolers.
Meet our Founders
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.