Meet our Board

TINAMARIE PAYNARD

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 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

Meet our Teachers
 
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TINAMARIE

Science, Geography, Ecology, Production, Acting

Description above

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MIRANDA NORRIS

Literature, health

Using methods from Charlotte Mason, Waldorf and Classical, plus techniques proven fun and useful over 20 years of homeschooling her own children and teaching homeschool education classes for the past 11 years, Miranda brings fun to a subject that should be fun, but never at the expense of a healthy respect for the rules. Games galore with real learning.

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IAN MARSHALL

Coding, Critical Writing

Ian Marshall is a homeschooling dad and professional tutor. He's taught and devised curricula for computer science, programming, game design, physics, and ancient history.

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LAURIE GONZALES

Spanish, Life Science

Laurie Gonzalez (BS Zoology, MS Physiology/Developmental Biology) has been a passionate science teacher for almost 20 years now, and delights in seeing the sparkle of interest and clarity of understanding in the eyes of her students!

She loves a good storm as much as a clear day, stops at every farm stand she passes, and loves exploring the city with her 4 children. She has extensive experience working with a wide variety of students, ages, and learning styles

JOE HATEM

Lab Science, American History

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

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SAM KNOX

Geography 

Samantha Knox is a 13-year New York City resident, mom to Sawyer (age 6), member of the NYCHEA council and a passionate homeschooler. She was an MFA candidate in theatrical lighting design and stage management at the University of California San Diego, and moved to New York to join the lighting team for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. That led to various freelance jobs in theatrical and event lighting and management, as well as a five-year residency as stage manager for Blue Man Group.

 

She has also taught various ages and disciplines including theatrical stage management, design, and English composition and literature. She is excited to join the teaching team at Different Directions and to work with your kids!  

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LEONTINE GREENBERG

Ecology Conservation

Leontine Greenberg is an educator, artist, and community organizer in Queens, NY. She has a BFA in Illustration and Scenic Design and an MSEd in Special Education from Hunter College, where she focused on the importance of free play and time in nature for neurodiverse children. 

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PJ LODIN

Comedy/ Performance

I'm a lifelong graduated homeschooler currently attending Columbia College Chicago for Comedy writing and performance. I've been deeply involved with the UCB training center along with Firebird Productions. I was a TA for different Directions for three years teaching acting along with biology and astronomy. I'm very excited to return to this incredible community and teach once again. This is a strange time for everyone, so let's laugh our way through it.

 

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EKATERINA

Mathematics/ Chess

Ekaterina (Elena's mom) holds a Master's degree in Mathematics from NYU-Courant Institute. When in high school she participated in national and international mathematics competitions and has a gold medal from international math project competition. Following graduate school she has been tutoring students all around NYC. Besides her love for math and sciences, she also loves to read about nutrition and is an avid cook herself. She finds joy in non-toxic and environmentally friendly ways of living. You can always invite her for a friendly game of chess or have a discussion about alternative methods of education. If you would like to know more about Ekaterina and see her full Resume, visit www.ekatutor.com.

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JANET MERVIN

Handcraft

Janet has home educated her five children for 18 years. She has organized many field trips, classes and co ran two Waldorf based co-ops over the years. She has also costumed several student plays and is a costume designer. Recently she has been teaching art. Sharing her love to create is her passion.

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OLENA BLUMBERG

Mathematics

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! 

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LAURIE HEINEMAN

Acting

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.

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TJ GLENN

Drawing, Writing, Production

Teel James Glenn has traveled the world for forty years as a stuntman, fight choreographer, swordmaster, jouster, illustrator, storyteller, bodyguard, actor, and haunted house barker.

He is the author of the non-fiction “Them’s Fighin’ Words- a writer’s guide to writing fight scenes,” and dozens of other books. He has had stories in over a hundred magazines from Weird Tales, Spinetingler, SciFan, Mad, Black Belt, Fantasy Tales, Sherlock Holmes Mystery to Crimson Streets, and others, as well as tales in close to a hundred anthologies in many genres. He is also the winner of the 2012 Pulp Ark Award for Best Author and his short story “The Clockwork”. 

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MARTIN WALLACE

Musician

Martin Wallace is a classically trained musician.  He has studied piano and flute since elementary school through college and beyond, playing in various ensembles both classical and otherwise.  He is also a band leader, composer and arranger.  

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LYN PHILISTINE

Actress

Actress, Singer, Dancer, Vocal Coach and Homeschooling Mom.
Lyn has been seen on Broadway, on national tours, and in regional theatres across the country,

 
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.  

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DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS

339 West 47th Street
New York 10036