Biographies of the NEH Rembrandt Project Team

Project Director

RembrandtDr. Joseph Piro is an Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Long Island University. He received a PhD from Columbia University where he conducted research on topics related to arts education in schools. He also served as cultural arts coordinator for the New York City School District where the Rembrandt Project originated. He has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Gilder-Lehrman Foundation, the Getty Center and Fulbright Projects to develop curriculum and teacher training projects in the humanities.

Project Scholars

RembrandtDr. Ralph A. Smith is Professor Emeritus of Cultural and Educational Policy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He founded the Journal of Aesthetic Education in 1966 and was its editor for 34 years. He has authored or edited 16 books that include The Sense of Art (1989), The Arts, Education, and Aesthetic Knowing (1992), and Culture and the Arts in Education (2006). He is a Distinguished Fellow of the National Art Education Association, a Senior Scholar of the University of Illinois College of Education, and recipient of a career award from his professional association.

Dr. Louisa Wood Ruby is Head of Photoarchive Research at The Frick Collection and Art Reference Library in New York. She has published extensively on Dutch and Flemish art, including a monograph and catalogue raisonné of the drawings of Paul Bril (Brepols, 1999), the subject of her Ph.D. dissertation at the Institute of Fine Arts. Currently she is researching collections of Dutch art in seventeenth-century New York.

Museum Faculty

RembrandtNancy Blume is Head of Arts Education Programs at The Asia Society and Museum. She has a degree in history from Smith College. At The Asia Society, she has developed teacher-training materials and worked with curators to create gallery exhibitions for schools. She has also authored teaching guides to help integrate the teaching of art into school curricula. She has served as an advisor to the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and has lectured on the Rembrandt/India connection at teacher professional development workshops.

Jean Henning is Director of Education at the Nassau County Museum of Art. She has a degree in art history from Smith College and has done graduate work at New York University. She has been involved in a number of partnerships that had, as their focus, school-museum collaborations, as well as integrating art into the curriculum.

Amy Herman is was Head of Education at The Frick Collection when the Rembrandt project began. She is now Head of Educational Development at WNET. She has also served as a museum educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Museum at Princeton University. She is the originator of a highly acclaimed program in medical humanities that the Frick has conducted with Cornell Medical College that trains medical students in observational skills by looking at art. In addition to Rembrandt, she also specializes in French art.

Teresa Russo is a Museum Educator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she is responsible for new media publications. She has produced several award-winning CD-ROMs and websites, including The Timeline of Art History, and lectures on the role of new media in museum education. Before joining the Education department, Teresa worked in the Paintings Conservation as a member of the team performing infrared imaging examinations of early Netherlandish paintings and on the Program for Art on Film, a joint venture of the Metropolitan Museum and the J. Paul Getty Trust. Prior to her career at the Metropolitan, she worked on information systems for Bell Laboratories. Teresa has a B.A. in art history from Rutgers and a master’s from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts.

Nancy Richner is Director of Education at the Hofstra University Museum. Previously, she was a Program Coordinator at the Nassau County Museum of Art where she worked with teachers and students when the Rembrandt project began. She earned a Bachelor’s from Northwestern University and Master’s Degree in Museum Education at the George Washington University. Prior to working at the NCMA, she was Assistant Director at the Museum of Modern Art. She has served on the faculty of Bank Street College of Education, was Chair of the New York City Museum Educators’ Roundtable and was named Eastern Museum Educator of the Year for the NAEA.

Che Sabalja is the Director of the East End Seaport Museum as well as an Art Educator, Curator, and Researcher for CLS Arts Consulting. She received her BFA in Art History and MS in Arts Education from LIU, C.W. Post and her MA in Liberal Arts and Museum Studies from New York University. She has also presented many art education workshops at both the NAEA and NYSATA Conferences.

Long Island University Faculty

RembrandtDr. Iftikhar Ahmad is faculty at Long Island University, C.W. Post. He has conducted extensive research in the area of civic education and other social studies topics, as well as social studies standards in education. He has recently completed a book manuscript on the history of civic education. Dr. Ahmad received an EdD from Teachers College, Columbia University and teaches courses on social studies teaching methods, educational research and cultural diversity.

Dr. Haeryun Choi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Long Island University. She also has taught at Hofstra University. She completed her training at the University of Illinois in Art and Aesthetic Education. Her academic interests are aesthetic education, philosophy of education, and moral education.

Dr. Bette Schneiderman is the Co-Chair of the Educational Technology Department at LIU. She received a Ph.D. in Educaitonal Research from Hofstra University and has degrees in the History of Art and in Education from Syracuse University. Dr. Schneiderman's department at the University delivers an innovative masters degree program for teachers on the transformation of teaching and learning environments for the future. Dr. Schneiderman founded and leads the Electronic Educational Village (EEV), a projet that electronically links nearly 1,000 individuals annually across Long Island in building a learning community. The EEV has been the recipient of awards and grants since its inception and is now archived in the Smithsonian Institution's Permanent Research Archive.

Dr. Donna Tuman is Chair of the Art Education Department at LIU. She received an EdD from Teachers College, Columbia University and has directed museum education programs at The Queens Museum of Art and the Nassau County Museum of Art. She also serves as President of the University Council for Art Education and was named CUNY Art Educator of the Year.

Technology Faculty

RembrandtFaye Lourenso is a professor of graphic design at Suffolk County Community College as well as an adjunct professor in the Department of Educational Technology at C.W. Post. She has a BA in Art Education from Minnesota State University at Mankato, Minnesota and an MA in Studio Arts with an emphasis in Computer Graphics along with MS in Educational Technology from Long Island University: C.W. Post. She has worked in the commercial area of graphics design with a variety of organizations creating print and web media including Sufolk County Community College's catalog and Eastern Long Island Executives Business Roundtable.

Curriculum Faculty

RembrandtMark Conn retired six years ago after over 33 years in the NYC school system. He is actively pursuing creative photography and writing. During the six years prior to his retirement Mark wrote and received several major grants that brought the arts and technology into PS 102 Queens, including a first round five year Annenberg Arts Initiative funded through the Center for Arts Education. Mark created, administered and coordinated programs with many preeminent NYC arts institutions and universities. The goal of these programs was to use the arts as a catalyst to teach core curricula and critical thinking. At the same time he directed and was involved with the installation of an innovative technology system. Mark has written articles on arts/arts education, given numerous presentations, participated on many panels, taken part in radio/TV interviews and produced videotapes on these topics. He was one of the writers involved in the original Rembrandt project. The rest of his experience within the school system involved teaching a variety of subject areas on many grade levels. His educational background includes a BA in Philosophy (Honors) from Long Island University and MA in English from St. John’s University/New York University and additional postgraduate work in the arts.

Ellen Grill has been involved in the New York City school system for over thirty years. The roles she has played have been varied. She began as a classroom teacher; continued in a special program that addressed the needs of fourth grade holdovers. School Enrichment programs were her next challenge. Throughout her career she always stressed importance of keeping parents informed and involved in their children’s education. She presented educational strategies to parent groups, pedagogical staff and administrators. Along with her duties as Enrichment Specialist she served as the school’s Project Arts Coordinator and Grant Writer. She wrote and taught a syllabus in balanced literacy and assumed the role of School wide Literacy Coach. Her educational background includes a BS from New York University and graduate work at Stony Brook, Lehman and Queens College-CUNY.

Carole Tosiello has taught English in the New York City public schools for over 30 years. She was a participant in Project ARTS, an Annenberg Grant, and the original Rembrandt Project. A lifelong learner of art, music and history, she has incorporated them into both classroom curriculum and extra-curricular clubs and activities. Her educational background includes a B.S. in Education from St. John’s University with a semester at Trinity College, Oxford; an M.A. in English from New York University; post-graduate study in English and art history at the New School; and sabbatical study in Florence, Italy.

Project Evaluator

RembrandtDr. Marc Summers is an (adjunct) professor at Hofstra University. Prior to this, he served as the Director of Cultural Arts for the Freeport Public Schools on Long Island. He has extensive experience working with cultural arts organization and evaluating their services to schools. He continues to work in assessing programs in art education and advises schools on effective practices in the arts. In addition to this, he is also a practicing psychologist and psychotherapist. Marc’s educational background includes a BA, MA and PhD in Psychology, all from Hofstra University.