Our Faculty

Take risks. Embrace failure. Celebrate difference. The Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts (GHAA) Half-Day Faculty exemplifies these three tenets in their art and in their teaching. A distinction of the GHAA Half-Day Program is that all classes are taught by practicing arts professional. You can see the exceptional talent of our accomplished faculty both within and beyond our classroom walls. GHAA Half-day students benefit from the personal insight and experience of our Artist-Instructors, who not only have impressive resumes, but also seek opportunities to grow in their arts professions on a daily basis.

Faculty Bios
Greg Boucher
Theater Design Production/Music

Greg BoucherGreg Boucher is a graduate from the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a degree in Music and Sound Recording Technology. He has worked various live sound, and events/production as a freelance engineer. He worked at WWLP TV22 as a production assistant, video editor, sound engineer, and web author.  Presently, Greg works at the Academy supporting productions, theater events, IT support, and as an artist instructor. At the Academy, Greg has taught songwriting, recording production, and sound design and has served as the sound designer for its musicals and other stage productions. 

Gene Bozzi
Music Department  Head

Gene BozziGene Bozzi graduated from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford with a Bachelor of Music and Music Education. Since 1971, he has served as the Principal Percussionist and later as the Principal Timpanist in the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. While in the orchestra, he has performed solos for Bartok Sonata for Piano and Percussion and Milhaud’s Concerto for Percussion.  He is the leader of the Hartford Symphony Jazz Quartet and the creator, artistic director, and drummer for the Hartford Symphony’s “Jazz and Strings” Ensemble. He has toured Russia with the Hendrik Merkens Jazz Quartet and is the founding member of “Samba Brasil.” He is a percussionist for the Bushnell Broadway Series, Goodspeed Opera House, and Shubert Theater.

As a teaching artists, Gene has taught at Central Connecticut State University, University of Connecticut, Wesleyan University, and Trinity College. Since 1985, he has been the chair of the Music Department at the CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts.

Missy Burmeister 

Missy Burmeister is in her eleventh year as a theater arts instructor with the Academy. A native of Texas, Missy ventured to the East Coast to work in the Education Department at Hartford Stage where she served as a lead teaching artist for in-school and residency programs, and worked as the department’s resident youth director. Since joining the Academy family, Missy has been given the opportunity to share her passion for directing and creating original physical theater with her students. Academy directing credits include: Rhinoceros, Tartuffe, Anna In the Tropics, Little Shop of Horrors; original works: Kinetic Impressions (2015 National Artist Teacher Fellowship project), YOUterus. This year, she will direct The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and create an original physical theater piece with the Movement Rep Ensemble. Missy received her BFA in Theatre and Television from Texas Christian University and her MA in Directing from Texas State University

Gail Fresia 
Theater Design and Production

Gail Fresia is the costume designer and technician at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. She has also worked with the following companies and schools, University of Massachusetts, Amherst College, Middlebury College, Hartford Ballet, Pilobolus Dance Theater, Pennsylvania Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Zaccho Dance Theatre, California Actor’s Theater, Southern California Conservatory Theater, National Theatre of the Deaf, Hartbeat Ensemble, Bated Breath Theater’s production of BENEATH THE GAVEL for 59E59th Theater NYC, an the UNMAKING OF TOULOUSE-LAUTREC at Madam X in NYC, Production Workshop of Taiwan, ROC, The Rolling Stones Tour, Maurice Sendak, and Cirque du Soleil. She was nominated for the Isadore Duncan Award for her collaboration with Sandra Woodall for Zaccho Dance Theatre’s production of INVISIBLE WINGS.

Francine Gintoff
Visual Arts

Francine Gintoff has an MFA in painting from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a BFA from the Tyler School of Art, in Philadelphia. She is the recipient of a Surdna Individual Artist Grant, an Artist Grant from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and an Artist Resource Trust Grant, Berkshire Taconic Foundation. She has exhibited in the northeast in both solo and group shows such as the Wadsworth Atheneum, Real Art Ways, Paul Mellon Arts Center, Pearl Street Gallery, Hartford, and the New Britain Museum of American Art. She is also in the Registry at the Drawing Center in NYC. Her latest show was at Arts Worcester, in Massachusetts.  She is Core Faculty in the Visual Arts Department at CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Half-day Program. This is her 20th year with the Arts Academy. 

Jeanne Giroir

Jeanne GiroirOriginally from Dallas, Texas, Jeanne Tears Giroir was a recipient of the Ford Foundation scholarship at the age of 12. She spent summers in New York City on scholarships at the School of American Ballet and Harkness Ballet.  At the age of 18, she became a member of the Harkness Ballet in New York, and the Harford Ballet a few years later.  During her 18 years as a professional dancer, she has performed principal roles in the Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Coppelia and Carmina Burana, along with repertory works by Michael Uthoff, George Balanchine, Peter Martins, Doris Humphrey and Antony Tudor.  
Presently, Ms. Giroir is a core Faculty Artist Instructor at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, a magnet arts high school.  She was the Chair of the Dance Dept for the Center for Creative Youth, a summer program for high school students at Wesleyan University.  She has taught at the Hartt School Community Division and the Hartford Conservatory, along with private studios in the state.  She is married to former dancer, Thomas Giroir, is the mother of two children and also has two adorable granddaughters.

Thomas Giroir

Thomas GiroirThomas attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas on a dance scholarship and received his BFA in Dance.He then joined the Hartford Ballet and danced there for nine years doing many principal roles including Romeo in Michael Uthoff's Romeo and Juliet, the Prince in Nutcracker and the title role in Tom Dula, as well as dancing in pieces by choreographers such as Antony Tudor, George Balanchine, Dennis Nahat, Lar Lubovitch, Anna Sokolow and Kurt Jooss. After retiring from dance, he pursued a career in photography, specializing in Dance Photography. He has worked with many dance companies and schools in the New England area, as well as being asked to photograph Mikhail Baryshnikov's one man show in 2004. He has also done work for corporations and educational institutions. In addition to his photography work, he teaches ballet in the Greater Hartford area at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, as well as several dance studios. He is married to his former dance partner, Jeanne Tears Giroir and they have two children, Christopher, a software engineer in California and Megan, a dance teacher in Bremerton Washington.

Lynn Hoffman
Academic Advisor

Lynn HoffmanLynn Hoffman has a B.Mus. cum laude in Music Theory and Composition from the University of Hartford/Hartt School and an MFA in Writing from Spalding University with a double-major in Dramatic Writing and Writing for Children & Young Adults. She also has a Masters in Education from the University of St. Joseph with areas of concentration in Reading and Language Arts. Lynn studied Dramatic Writing with Kira Obolensky, Charlie Schulman, Sam Zalutsky, and Gabriel Jason Dean at Spalding U. Prior to that, she studied playwriting with Arthur Feinsod and Tony Hall at Trinity College (CT); with Kathleen Cahill at Wesleyan University; and with Jeffrey Sweet for a week-long summer playwriting intensive at Manhattanville College.

Lynn is the recipient of a 2020 CT Artist’s Fellowship Award in Playwriting from the Connecticut Office of the Arts. Her plays have had readings at Trinity College and at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts’ “Page to Stage New Play Readings.” Three Mothers (full-length) was selected for the 2020 Depot New Play Readings. The same play advanced to the 2nd Round in the 2019 Orlando Shakes Festival. It also was submitted to the 2019 Kennedy Center Summer Playwriting Intensive for which Lynn was selected. Mortal Allies (full-length) advanced to the final round at The Depot. The Sidewalk Living Room (full-length for young adults) was a Semi-Finalist for the 2017 Biennial Write Now Playwriting Competition for Young Audiences; it also was a Semi-Finalist in the American Alliance for Theater and Education’s Unpublished Playwriting Reading Competition. Lynn’s collection of poetry, Like Fire Catching Wind, was nominated for a CT Center for the Book Award. Her poem, “True Story,” was aired on NPR. Her poem, Mother to Son in Iraq, won 1st place in the CT Writing Project/UCONN Annual Writing Competition. She has studied poetry with Steve Straight, Rennie McQuilken, Doug Anderson, Edwina Trentham, and a week-long poetry intensive with Kimiko Hahn.

For almost 20 years, Lynn has been a Teaching Artist for the Bushnell Partners Program, where she’s taught poetry and narrative writing to Hartford students in Gr. 2-7. Since 1991, she’s been an Aetna Fellow for the CT Writing Project at UCONN/Storrs. She was a co-founder of the Academy for Young Writers at the University of St. Joseph (1995-2010), a week-long summer writing intensive for Gr.5-7 students in the Greater Hartford area. Lynn is the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Half-day’s Academic Advisor, a position she’s held since 1997. In 2015, she also became an Artist-Instructor in Creative Writing for the Academy and continues to offer a one-semester creative writing class through the Visual Arts Department.

Brian Jennings
Theater Department Head

Brian JenningsBrian Jennings has served on the Theater Department faculty since 1996, and has been Head of the Department since 2017. He is a member of Hartbeat Ensemble, where he has directed multiple productions of Jimmy and Lorraine: A Musing and Ebeneeza: A Hartford Holiday Carol. As an actor, he originated the role of Det. Nick Carter in Flipside. He has been a member of the National Theater of the Deaf, working as a voicing actor on multiple national and international tours. He has played Oberon, Malvolio and Macbeth as part of Artfarm’s Shakespeare in the Grove, and performed at major regional theaters, Off Broadway, and on television. His adaptation, RAVE: The Bacchae of Euripides - Remixed was performed by Academy students at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. His original musical, The Resurrectionists was workshopped at Playhouse on Park last winter. He most recently directed a new production of Jimmy and Lorraine at the Pillsbury House Theater. At the Academy, he has directed numerous Main Stage and Black Box productions including: In the Heights, La Casa de Bernarda Alba, Ragtime and Violet Enlightens. He has co-directed Six Plays in Six Days for the past 11 years. He serves as Chair of the Musical Theater program at Wesleyan University’s Center for Creative Youth, and a member of the Actor Training faculty at the Hartt School. He is currently working with the Educational Theater Association on its Model Cornerstone Assessment project. He is a former Surdna Foundation Teaching Artist Fellow. He was named Arts Teacher of the Year by the Arts Schools Network in 2005 and the Academy’s Artist-Instructor of the Year in 2012. He has taught internationally in Cape Verde and South Africa. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Princeton University and an MFA in Acting from the National Theater Conservatory.

Alexa Melonopoulos Fleury
Dance Department Head

Alexa Melonopoulos Fleury began her dance training with Estelle Jones. She earned her BA in Dance from Hofstra University and holds an MA in Dance in Higher Education and Administration from New York University. She has had the opportunity to perform with choreographers Eleo Pomare, Remi Charlip, Rosalind Newman, Robin Becker, Stormy Brandenberger, Lance Westergard, Lili Weiss, John Mead and Ching Wen Yeh. Alexa has been affiliated with a number of groups including Washington Square Repertory Dance Company, Sonia Plumb Dance Company, Works /Laura Glenn Dance and Miss Porter’s School. She is currently the Dance Department Chair at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts in Hartford and member of the Judy Dworin Performance Project.

Natasha D. Miles
Visual Arts Department Head

Natasha MIlesNatasha D. Miles is an accomplished painter, printmaker and book designer. She studied Visual Arts at Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida and then graduated from the University of Hartford’s Art School earning a BFA in Painting and Printmaking.

Her multimedia works of art have been exhibited at local, national and world-renowned museums such as Galleria d’arte Nocchia in Cortona Italy, Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut and the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida. In addition to participating in gallery exhibitions, she has been an advocate, exhibitor, volunteer coordinator and Assistant to the Director for Open Studio Hartford since 2003.

She offers enriching arts educational hands-on workshops for children and adults of all ages by introducing innovative visual arts techniques learned from around the world, across multiple disciplines, media and techniques. Since 2002, Natasha has been an arts educator and mentor at CREC’s Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts in Hartford, Connecticut where she currently serves as Department Head for Visual Arts. 

Mike Nowicki

Mike NowickiMichael Nowicki is a theater artist, educator and stage director.  He holds a BFA in Acting from the Experimental Theatre Wing at the TISCH School of the Arts at New York University. In addition, he studied commedia at the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre in California with Carlo Mazzone-Clemente.  He has workshopped with a variety of groups ranging from Chicago's Second City Theatre to Anne Bogart's Saratoga International Theatre Institute. Mike’s  numerous professional credits include 5 mainstage productions and over 15 staged readings at Hartford Stage, where he worked directly with 2 Pulitzer Prize winning playwrights.  He is also an Artistic Associate at Capital Classics Theatre Company, home of the Greater Hartford Shakespeare Festival, where he has been performing and directing outdoor Shakespeare for the last 2 decades.

As an educator, he served on many Connecticut faculties including the University of Hartford, the School of the Hartford Ballet, Hartford Stage Company and the Hartford Conservatory, where he served as Dean of Musical Theater during his 8 year affiliation with the college.  He was also the Artistic Director of the Theater Program at Simsbury High School for 10 years. For the last 24 years, his teaching base has been the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, where he currently serves as Core Faculty in Theater for their high school and as Director of the Arts for their middle school.  He received the inaugural Artist/Instructor of the Year award from the school in 2003.

Mike's work has allowed him to travel the world, with stops including Iceland, Cape Verde and Russia, where he spent 3 weeks as a guest artist at the Diaghilev School of the Arts.  He frequently directs productions and leads technique workshops for high schools, colleges and professional theater companies across the country.  Mike was a National Artist Teacher Fellow in 2014, an award to support his continued training in Devised Theater and his passion for creating original, site-specific theatrical work. 

Christine Perry

Christine PerryChristine Perry graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford with a BFA in Dance Performance in the Spring of 2009. During this time she also had the privilege to train at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance on scholarship. She has danced with dancEnlight as a dancer and company teacher and with Judy Dworin Performance Projects. Christine Perry has taught in various schools around Connecticut including Limelite Dance Center, Eastern Connecticut Ballet, Premier Dance School, Miss Porter’s School and Yale. She is currently on faculty at Dance Express of Tolland. She is a co-artistic director and dancer with IMMIX dance project, a contemporary dance company centered around collaborating with local artists to create new and unique work.  Along with dance she is a professional stage and production manager and has done extensive technical theater work in locations including the Baryshinikov Arts Center in New York City, St. Joseph College, the Garde Arts Center, Charter Oak Cultural Center, Foxwoods and the Wadsworth Atheneum.  

Evan Seide
Theater Design and Production

Evan SeideEvan Seide is a New England based designer who practices in many disciplines, primarily film, commercial, editorial and live entertainment. Over his fifteen year career as an artist and designer, he has become known for varied and imaginative works in a variety of genres. He has experience as a production designer, artistic director, prop master, set designer, lighting designer, carpenter, and a variety of other roles. Recent projects include Production Design for "The National Hockey League”, "Fifa", " The Indie500" and “ The Puppy Bowl". Evan has also designed various sets for Annie Lebowitz, Steven Meisel, Vogue, Coach, Mercedes and Dior. While Evan has spent some time away from the stage, he also has experience working with several dance companies, comedians, orchestras and over 200 noted musicians, in a plethora of roles. Evan's mission at the Academy is to spread excitement for the arts, unify the community and e xpand creative power. 

Molly Shaughnessy Encarnacion
Visual Arts

Molly Shaunessy Molly Shaughnessy Encarnacion has been a Core Faculty Artist Instructor at the CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts since 2009. She has participated in Open Studio Hartford for the past 8 years and the annual Trashion Fashion Show at Hartford City Hall as both an Artist and as an Instructor for student submitted work. Her work has been featured in juried shows such as “Rough Around the Edges” at the Windsor Art Center, “Out of the Loop” and “Clothesline” for the West Hartford Art League, and was featured in the 2016 National Arts Program exhibition at Capital Community College. 

Christine Simoes
Musical Theater


Christine Simoes is a choreographer and teacher in the Greater Hartford area. She has her certificate in Dance Pedagogy from the Hartford Conservatory and is an alumnus of the CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Dance Department. Christine has trained to compete professionally in American Style Latin Ballroom dance and taught Ballroom dance for Fred Astaire Dance studio in West Hartford and Arthur Murray Dance Studio in New Britain. She has choreographed and taught Jazz, Ballet and Ballroom Dance to children and adults for the past twenty-four years in schools throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts. She is currently on faculty at the Academy as an Artist Instructor in the Musical Theater Department where she choreographs and teaches Dance. Christine has been teaching at the Academy for the past 19 years and was named Artist Instructor of the Year for the 2013-14 school year. She has had the pleasure of choreographing many spring and Black Box Musicals at the Academy (Chicago, Dessa Rose, Cabaret, Urinetown, Caroline or Change, Ragtime, Carousel, Sweet Charity, In the Heights, King of Hearts and Once On This Island ). This spring she will be choreographing Little Shop of Horrors for CT Repertory Theater at UCONN. Christine has also choreographed Carrie the Musical for Central Connecticut State University, Assistant Directed The Good Person of Setzuan and Urinetown at Loomis Chaffee School and taught/ choreographed for many summer workshops throughout Connecticut. Most recently Christine has choreographed Merry Wives of Windsor, Pericles, Prince of Tyre for Capital Classics and Love’s Labour’s Lost which earned her a Best Choreographer nomination for the 2017 Broadway World Connecticut Awards.

Rachel Sinay
Theater Design and Production Dept. Head

Rachel Sinay Rachel Sinay is the Department Chair of the Theater Design & Production Department. She has been on the faculty of the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts for the past eleven years. She was the props master for Goodspeed Musicals and Charge Scenic Artist at the Hartt School for many years. She also is a freelance scenic artist and properties artisan for Goodspeed Musicals, Loomis Chaffee High School, The National Theater of the Deaf, HartBeat Ensemble and Trinity College. Her previous theatrical jobs have included carpentry, stage management, dramaturgy, props and scenic art Off-Broadway, at The Public Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, and the Theatre For A New Audience as well as Broadway, and in many other regional theaters. She has also directed Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Journey To The West, and King of Hearts here at the Academy.

Article Featuring Rachel Sinay

Kim Stroud
Academy Director and Dance Faculty

Kim StroudKim Stroud started at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts in 1993 and has also held positions of Dance Chair and Assistant Director. She has served as the General Director for the Center for Creative Youth at Wesleyan University as well. Ms. Stroud’s former positions include: Administrator for the Dance Programs for City Youth through the School of the Hartford Ballet, Dance Chair for the Center for Creative Youth and head of the Diversity Committee for the International NETWORK of Performing and Visual Arts Schools.
 Ms. Stroud has been on faculty at the Martha Graham School, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, SUNY Purchase and the University of Hartford.  She was a Principal Soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company for eleven years.  
 She has danced with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, the road company of Your Arms Too Short to Box with God, the Universal Studios film production of The Wiz, and as a guest artist with Katherine Dunham and the Gemini Dance Company. Ms. Stroud has been a master teacher for such institutions as the University of California at Santa Barbara, University of Southern California at Los Angeles, Connecticut College, Eastern Connecticut State University, University of Hartford, South Carolina Governor’s School and the Duke Ellington School.
 Ms. Stroud received Teacher Recognition from The National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and from the Connecticut Dance Alliance. The National Dance Education Organization named Ms. Stroud Outstanding Dance Educator of the Year and she received the Teacher of the Year award from the International Arts Schools Network.  In 2012 she was named Outstanding Dance Educator by Dance Teacher Magazine.  Her most recent honors were receiving the William A. Yandow Educator Award, the Excellence in Education Award and the Arts Hero Award, from the State of Connecticut Department of Education and being named a member of the International Dance Council of UNESCO.