Camp Levine DC Campus: NW Teacher Bios

Jonathan Hamilton

NW DC, Upton St. Site Director

Jon Hamilton, an Erie, PA native, graduated from Allegheny College with his Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance in 2007. He later earned his M.Ed. from Pennsylvania Western University (formerly Edinboro University) studying Middle & Secondary Education and Music Education in 2011. Jon has performed as pianist and vocalist with many organizations including: The Thomas Circle Singers, The Alexandria Singers, The Erie Philharmonic Choir, The Young People’s Chorus of Erie, Sudden M-Pac Band, and even his own group 3rio. Jon has served the last 10 years as an educator in the Title 1 schools of Fairfax County Public Schools. He also teaches private voice and piano to intermediate and advanced learners. When not working Jon is often giving his time to depth work and self development, whether alone or in group facilitation trainings. Such full hearted living provides many opportunities for enriching relationships as well as experiences.

Catherine Hammes

Assistant Site Director- NW DC, Upton St.

Catherine is a rising 4th year Flute Performance major at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Her love of music can be traced back to Levine Summer Camp, where she started as a camper in 2009 before becoming a teen apprentice in 2014 and joining as a staff member in 2022. She also finds great joy in playing in musical theatre pit orchestras around the area. In addition to her commitment to music, she is an amateur snowboarder and enjoys studying philosophy, which is also her minor.

Laine Schlezinger

Teen Apprentice Coordinator- NW DC, Upton st.

Laine Schlezinger is a writer/artist, student, and educator studying psychology and fine art at the George Washington University. Passionate about youth identity development, leadership, and creative expression, Laine attributes their interest in education to summers spent as a camp counselor— and are excited to return to the summer camp world as a Teen Apprentice Coordinator at Camp Levine! Outside of their studies and work as a youth facilitator, Laine can usually be found in the ceramics studio, reading a good book, or scouring DC for the best matcha latte.

Beth Barbaro

PreK Teacher- Session I & II - NW DC, Upton St.

Beth has been teaching at Camp Levine since 2010, and is so happy to be back again this summer! Her background is in music therapy and early childhood music, which led her to the preschool classroom where she now teaches 3 and 4 year olds during the school year. Beth’s passion is engaging children in play through theme-based music, art and literature. When she’s not in the classroom, Beth keeps busy with her family and foster dogs.

Cierra Grace

PreK Teacher- Session I - NW DC, Upton St.

Cierra holds a bachelors and masters of Music education from Norfolk State University. She has taught elementary and early childhood music for 13 years and has been with Levine for 6, teaching in their First Music department, primarily at the Silver Spring campus. Cierra enjoys cooking and baking for her husband, friends and family and also enjoys shopping!

Darren Shillingford

PreK Teacher- Session I & II - NW DC, Upton St.

Mr. Darren is a passionate music educator and pianist originally from Trinidad & Tobago. He holds a B.M. in Music Education from Florida International University, a M.A. in Music Education from University of Maryland, College Park and currently pursuing his PhD in Music Education, also at UMD. In addition to his studies, he has been a PK-8 music teacher, church musician, and collaborative pianist in the Silver Spring and DMV area. He is an accompanist and the curriculum coordinator with the Children’s Chorus of Washington(CCW). He has been with Camp Levine since 2019.

Monica Shelly

PreK Teacher- Session I - NW DC, Upton St.

Monica Shelly is thrilled to be joining Camp Levine as a PK/K Teacher this summer! She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Tampa and her Master’s degree from the University of Miami, both in Music Education. With over 19 years of experience teaching music in the South Florida and DC areas, Monica currently serves as the Early Childhood Music Teacher at Washington Episcopal School in Bethesda, Maryland. She resides in the suburbs of Maryland with her husband, Jacob, and their two children, Avery and Lincoln. Having previously taught at Camp Levine, Monica is eagerly anticipating her return to the staff this summer!

Ceylon Mitchell

Flute Teacher - Session II - NW DC, Upton St.

Dr. Ceylon Mitchell II embodies the 21st-century arts leader as a contemporary classical flutist, curator, educator, and entrepreneur. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Dr. Mitchell earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Maryland School of Music, under the tutelage of Dr. Sarah Frisof. He has performed in venues such as Boston’s Symphony Hall, the Music Center at Strathmore, the Arts Club of Washington, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with Robert Glasper. In the United States, Dr. Mitchell has been a featured artist at the National Flute Convention, flute societies and associations, and multiple chamber music series. Recent achievements include the Strathmore Artist in Residence Class of 2021 and a Prince George’s County Forty UNDER 40 Award. In masterclasses, he has performed for the renowned flutsits such as Carol Wincenc, Marina Piccinini, Aaron Goldman, and Sir James Galway.

Jonathan Vesley

Cello & Production Art Teacher - Session I & II - NW DC, Upton St.

Jonathan Velsey has been introducing campers to the wonders of the cello at Levine’s Music & Arts camp since 1999. A Levine alumnus himself, Jonathan received a B.A. from Bard College, and got his Master of Music degree at Northwestern University. During the year, Jonathan teaches strings in Howard County, Maryland, is on the faculty as a studio and group cello instructor at Levine and is an active freelance cellist in the Washington area. Jonathan’s musical journey has allowed him to travel and perform as solo, chamber and orchestral cellist, giving critically acclaimed recitals at home and abroad. When not teaching or performing, Jonathan enjoys reading, hiking, cooking, traveling, composing and arranging music and learning new languages.

Dawoon Jung

Piano Teacher - Session II - NW DC, Upton St.

Dawoon Jung values a sensitive and delicate musician style in her performances as a soloist and chamber musician. As a musician and piano teacher, she is committed to providing welcoming, equitable, and accessible educational experiences for all students. Dawoon built her musical career through solo recitals, chamber recitals, competitions, workshops/festivals, and accompaniment. She holds her bachelor’s degree at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee under the tutelage of Jung-Ja Kim. Dawoon holds Master’s degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University under the guidance of Professor Benjamin Pasternack. She was a teaching fellow in the Peabody Outreach Pedagogy program. Currently, She is a faculty at Levine Music and teaching private lessons through DC and Virginia area.

Christine Kharazian

Violin Teacher - Session II - NW DC, Upton St.

Christine Kharazian is a concert violinist, a graduate of the Komitas State Conservatory and the Tchaikovsky Advanced School of Music in Yerevan, Armenia. She has performed in concerts at the Kennedy Center, Strathmore Hall, Dumbarton House, the Gallery at The Ellipse, and various Embassies in Washington, among other venues as a soloist and with various groups. Christine is an experienced educator. Currently she teaches violin technique at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Sidwell Friends. Christine is also the author and presenter of a series of interactive programs in music education. As a versatile and adventurous musician she loves exploring various styles, from Gypsy Jazz to Brazilian Choro and performs often with various ensembles including Orchester Praževica. Christine Kharazian enjoys experimenting with the merging of various art forms, such as theater and music. In addition Christine was a 2nd prize winner of the Unsigned Only competition in 2021 for her original composition Valse Astolfi. She serves as a Chair of Student Activities at Friday Morning Music Club, coordinating concert series for young aspiring musicians, and is a board member of Blues Alley Jazz Education Society.

Savannah Hanley

Instrument Building & Snack & Aftercare Teacher - Session I & II - NW DC, Upton St.

This will be Savannah’s second year with Camp Levine, having taught Instrument Building in the Summer of 2022. A graduate from George Washington University with a double major in Music and Psychological & Brain Sciences, she has since worked as the Performance Events Assistant for the GW Music Program, as well as a stagehand and member of the set team for productions at the Washington Stage Guild. Currently, Savannah is the Educational Program Coordinator with the Washington Bach Consort, an organization dedicated to introducing DC public school students to the musical works of Bach. Having spent much of her life and career engaging with music in a variety of different formats, she is excited to return this year with fun projects that work to encompass the nuances of music creation and the meaning of sound. As a performer and life-long lover of music she is excited to bring new challenges to the table for this year’s campers.

Michelle Seaward

Dance Teacher - Session II - NW DC, Upton St.

Michelle Seaward is a professional actress & dancer born and raised in Washington DC she has a Bachelors in Arts and Humanities Vocal Music Performance & Theater Arts from Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach Florida. With over ten years of experience. Traveling with gospel choirs throughout high school and college. She has done many auditions and performances around the United States. Michelle has an impeccable ability on and off stage to bring characters to life! She takes pride in creating and personalizing many plays, movies, music videos, and theater performances. While working with many production and theater companies it has help to expand her strengths beyond anything she could ever imagine. Michelle is known for her big personality and incredible ability to choreograph and act. Director’s and Play Writers rave about her energy on stage and camera! All while maintaining a very professional atmosphere. Michelle’s goal is to reach audiences of all ages and help bring entertainment and excitement to their lives. Michelle’s motto is “Life is like a stage you are always performing”

Emily Gilson

Drama Teacher - Session II - NW DC, Upton St.

DC native Emily is a graduate of the SUNY Purchase conservatory with a double BA in Theatre & Medieval Studies. A Screen Actors’ Guild member since 2022, she is an actor, singer, teaching artist, and company member with the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Her post-grad training includes Studio Theatre, Shakespeare & Co., & Shaw Festival (Ontario); as well as classical voice with one of Broadway’s most sought-after teachers. Since 2013 she has performed around the region, originating roles at Source Fest, Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage, & on the radio with Jabberwocky Audio Theatre, among others. In 2020 she worked with The Show Must Go Online, a UK-based global collective of actors from all over the who performed the entire Shakespeare canon live on YouTube. Emily’s regular job is as a substitute teacher for DC Public Schools. Her classes emphasize theatre as play, with a focus on improv, character creation, group work, and movement. Her first feature film, RUSTIN, will be released on Netflix later this fall.

Avner Finberg

Violin & Composition Teacher - Session I - NW DC, Upton St.

Avner Finberg is an Israeli American composer and violinist. Avner’s compositions have been performed by Meitar Ensemble, ensemble mise-en, The Boston New Music Initiative, Ensemble Platypus Wien, The Ithaca New Music Collective, and Cisum Percussion, among others. Avner’s works for orchestra were performed with The Mannes Orchestra, The Manhattan School of Music Philharmonic and The Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes. His awards and accolades include the 2017 Kirkoskammer Chamber Music Competition, Chamber Music Rochester Award, the Bard Prize, and the 2014 Kol Emet Young Composers competition. He was a composition fellow at American Opera Project’s Composers and the Voice workshop in 2013-14, and his second opera, The Exagoge is currently slated for performance at New York’s La Mama Experimental Theatre in April 2024. As a violinist he premiered new chamber music works at ORF Radio Tirol in Austria, Cornell University, Spectrum NYC, and Manhattan School of Music. His ongoing interest in combining live electronics with solo violin resulted with his first original solo album, The Four Seasons of Isolation (2022), released with Ravello Records and hailed as “intriguing, entertaining and thought-provoking” by Gramophone Magazine. He earned his Doctor of Music degree in composition from Manhattan School of Music in 2015, and currently lives in Washington, DC, where he teaches violin and composition at the Levine School of Music.

Mark Sylvester

Guitar Teacher - Session I - NW DC, Upton St.

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Sylvester regularly performs around the Washington, DC, area as a solo guitarist, as a singer/songwriter, and with numerous folk, world, classical, rock, and jazz groups. His recordings of original compositions include music for solo acoustic guitar, award-winning chamber music for classical banjo, and scores for live site-specific theater productions. Mark’s primary musical influences and interests include folk and world music, cool jazz, prog rock, minimalism, American primitive and contemporary guitar music, and J.S. Bach.

Ariel Nathanson Bolinja

Piano Teacher - Session I - NW DC, Upton St.

Ariel Nathanson currently teaches piano at Levine. Prior to teaching at Levine, Nathanson taught piano and chamber music at community music schools in New England and Maryland including The Hartt School Community Division in West Hartford, CT and the International School of Music in Potomac, MD. In addition to her teaching, Nathanson has had the opportunity to perform throughout the east coast of the United States as well as internationally, in Italy, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. In 2016, she was awarded Honorable Mention in the Cremona International Competition for Piano. In 2019, she was a judge for the Little Mozarts Competition. Her principal teachers have included James Litzelman, Maggie Francis, Barbro Dahlman, Steven Snitzer, Constantine Finehouse, Mana Tokuno, Ana Popa, and Marsha Starikov.

Donald Albrecht

Trumpet Teacher - Session I & II - NW DC, Upton St.

Dr. Albrecht has had the privilege of freelancing all over the US, performing with groups at the Kennedy Center, Boston Symphony Hall, Kupferberg Center for the Arts, Mondavi Center, Krannert Center, and others. Dr. Albrecht is the professor of trumpet at Frostburg State University, where he teaches jazz and classical trumpet. He has held teaching positions at several musical institutions over his 15-year teaching career. Dr. Albrecht’s students have gone on to many careers as professional musicians and attended several top colleges and universities. Dr. Albrecht is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, the University of North Texas, Aaron Copland School of Music, and the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.

Christian Clark

Percussion Teacher - Session I - NW DC, Upton St.

Christian is a Drummer and Educator in Washington DC. His background includes Music Education, Jazz Studies, DCI, WGI, live performances at stages including Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola & The Kennedy Center, and Howard University. Returning to the civilian world after 4 years of military service, Christian is passionate about the joy of music. He aims to integrate timeless skills of discipline and objective focus with emotional intelligence and expression through rhythm!

Emma Park

Beforecare & Art Teacher - Session I - NW DC, Upton St.

Emma is an elementary art teacher in MCPS. She has a BFA in Sculpture and Expanded Media and a MAT in Elementary Education. Emma’s goal this summer is to support the development of campers creative confidence, artistic identity, and critical thinking and problem solving skills. She plans to accomplish this through a variety of material processes and techniques and providing opportunities for student choice.

Kyng Cleveland

Beforecare, Aftercare, Games & Sports Teacher - Session I - NW DC, Upton St.

Kyng Cleveland is an Alumni at Salisbury University and is excited to join Camp Levine this summer! 

Asheli Peoples

Music+ & Vocal/Choral Teacher - Session I - NW DC, Upton St.

Hi, my name is Ashlei Peoples! I studied piano performance at Spelman College and attained my Master’s degree in Music Education from University of North Carolina at Greensboro! I have taught elementary music and private piano lessons for the past 8 years! I absolutely love working with children and nurturing their individual musical talents!

Amanda Silverstien

Music+ Teacher - Session I - NW DC, Upton St.

Amanda grew up in Maryland, attending Levine for various musical theatre opportunities, so she is very excited to join the Levine community as a teacher! She is a full time general music teacher at Two Rivers Public Charter school and she specializes in voice.

Rick Westerkamp

Dance Teacher - Session I - NW DC, Upton St.

Rick has been a lifelong dancer and has studied various styles, including ballet, jazz, modern, and postmodern dance. Rick received his B.A. with a double major in Dance and Theatre from George Washington University with departmental honors in Dance. Rick has danced for and been a company member of darlingdance company, DancEthos, Next Reflex Dance Collective, and UnevenLane. As an actor, Rick has performed for Adventure Theatre-MTC, Constellation Theatre Company, Imagination Stage, The Keegan Theatre, NextStop Theatre Company, Olney Theatre Company, and Rep Stage. As a choreographer, Rick has choreographed for the Great Lakes Center for the Arts, The George Washington University’s Department of Theatre and Dance, and the Red Branch Theatre Company. Rick was the Middle School Drama Teacher at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart for nine years, teaching drama classes to grades 5-8, directing and choreographing musicals and plays in the middle and upper schools. Rick was the Middle School Dean of Students for two years. In the middle of the summer, Rick will move to Cambridge, MA, to receive his M.Ed in Education Leadership, Organizations, and Entrepreneurship at Harvard University.

Willsa Toney

Drama Teacher - Session I - NW DC, Upton St.

I would like to start by saying I am thrilled to be back at the Northwest Campus. This is my second year serving as a drama teacher at this site. For ten years, I worked at the Camp Levine VA location as a Director, drama and strings teacher. During the school year, I’ve been an assistant principal, Dean of Students, and music/drama teacher. As a violinist, I’ve had the pleasure of touring with world renowned entertainers! In my spare time, I enjoy dancing salsa and learning Spanish! I’m pumped for 2024 Camp Levine!

Thomas Murley

Music+ & Afternoon PreK/K Teacher - Session II - NW DC, Upton St.

I have taught elementary music for 15 years in New York, New Orleans and Northern Virginia. I have a BA from Stanford University and MA from Teachers College Columbia. In my music room, students understand through experience how to create an environment where everyone thrives. Our success as an ensemble, whether measured by accurate notes or palpable joy, depends on each and every member’s sense of belonging and self-expression.

VL (Lauren) Buzdygon

Games & Sports, Composition, and Aftercare Teacher - Session II - NW DC, Upton St.

VL is an experienced elementary music teacher with 7+ years in the classroom. They are also a passionate early childhood educator and childcare professional. Musically, you can find VL performing with and supporting the symphonic band, colorguard, and marching band of DC’s Different Drummers. VL looks forward to another exciting, creative, and unforgettable summer with Camp Levine!

Emily Thaler

PreK/K Teacher - Session II - NW DC, Upton St.

Emily Thaler is an experienced teacher with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Art Education. She works full time during the school year for Montgomery County Public Schools and teaches art to students aged 3 to 11. She has worked for Levine School of music for over 5 years. In her free time, she enjoys painting, reading, dancing and hiking. She is very excited to be teaching at Levine again this summer!

Francisco Quintero

Guitar Teacher - Session II - NW DC, Upton St.

Francisco Quintero is a musician, composer, producer and educator based in Washington D.C. In addition to regularly performing with some of the most well known musicians in the DMV area and the east coast both as a leader and sideman, he’s a dedicated teacher at some of the most prestigious schools in the Washington D.C. area.