Young at Art – Meet the Teachers

Each summer, ACA welcomes its smallest campers to the Young at Art, a morning camp for 4-5 year olds.  This year, we have three new enthusiastic and energetic teachers for our young campers.  We are excited to welcome Robert, Shooka and Ashley – read more about them below!

Young at Art runs in weekly sessions through Labor Day, come join us!


For the past ten years, Robert Rogers and his students of all ages have tromped through forests, zoos, museums, and even classrooms making music, theater, and mayhem. But gentle mayhem. Good mayhem. One afternoon, his students watched a goat give birth. They composed a song of celebration on the spot and marched it to all four corners of the farm. When indoors, Robert can be found writing plays and directing musicals for children, and performing lead roles in community theater and musicals. He graduated from the Kennedy Center Training Program for Emerging Playwrights as well as the American Conservatory and Asolo Conservatory Theater residency programs. Robert holds an MFA in Playwriting for Young Audiences from Lesley University and is Early Childhood Certified in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

He loves to skate, ski, and skimboard. Alas, despite years of training and a Masters degree in mathematics, he remains incurably silly.



“Music, life and enjoyment are three inseparable concepts!”  That is the basis of Shooka Afshar’s philosophy of music.  Kids in Shooka’s classes learn to open their ears to music and harmony and to experience the power of music.   She teaches rhythm, toddler tunes, group dancing and other fun activities, all using the Dacrozian Methods, through which students use movement to learn about music.

Shooka herself fell in love with music and performing at an early age.  She watched her first classical concert on a vhs at the age four and instantly decided to become an opera singer.  She started learning piano by ear and never stopped performing.

Shooka was awarded her BA and then completed her Masters of Music in Vocal Performance at Longy School of Music. In addition to teaching in schools and the Community Music Center of Boston, Shooka also teaches flute, piano and voice to individual students.


AshleyYarnellAshley Yarnell has been performing all over the New England area since a very young age, and made her professional debut at the Publick Theatre Boston at the age of 12. Since then she has continued to pursue her love of music and all things theatrical, completing her BFA in Musical Theatre from the renowned Pace University in New York City, where she was able to partake in Master Classes with such industry names as: Jack O’Brien, Joanna Gleason, David Stone, Stephen Flaherty, Michael Greif, Victoria Clark, Jerry Mitchell, Adam Guettel, Donna Drake, Curtil Holbrook, Lonny Price, and Bob Cline. She has also performed professionally with: Rachel York, Patrick Cassidy, Lee Meriwether, and dance icon Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Following undergraduate study, Ashley decided to branch out from the musical theatre world of performing and into the world of teaching and contemporary music. She completed graduate coursework in Vocal Pedagogy, Jazz Vocals, World Music, Choral Conducting, and General Music Education at the University of Massachusetts. Since graduating in 2008, she has built up a plethora of students throughout the New England area and is extremely excited to be teaching in the very town she grew up in and inspired her love and desire for a musical life. An avid composer/lyricist as well, Ashley is looking to continue to perform and write for the live rock/blues/acoustic scene.


Introducing Gayna Hoffman, ACA’s New Director of Education

Please join us in welcoming Gayna Hoffman to the Arlington Center for the Arts!

Gayna Hoffman is thrilled to be taking over the helm of ACA's Education Programs

Gayna Hoffman is thrilled to be taking over the helm of ACA’s Education Programs

Gayna recently joined ACA as Education Director and will oversee all educational programming, including arts classes for kids, teens, adults, and seniors and the popular vacation arts program for children aged 4-16.  She is thrilled to be stepping into the vibrant culture of ACA, and looks forward to finding new ways to collaborate with the local community, in Arlington and beyond.

Gayna comes to ACA with a rich and varied background in the arts and education.  A professional photographer for over 30 years, Gayna has received five Massachusetts Cultural Council Grants for photography exhibits, and her photographs have appeared  in the National Geographic Kids book, “Cherry Blossoms Say Spring” and Gourmet Magazine.

The summer after graduating from college, she taught in Nairobi, Kenya at Mama Ngina’s Children’s Home. It was there that she began her life long interest in photography and travel.

Gayna has worked in educational publishing for more than 25 years, as a photo coordinator and photo researcher for major educational textbook publishers including: Pearson Education, National Geographic School Publishing, Macmillan, Brown Publishing Network, and Houghton Mifflin.

Gayna is a strong believer in the power of community arts.  She was a co-founding member and advisory committee member at Stoneham Creates Community Arts Center.

One of Gayna’s short-term goals at ACA is to develop new opportunities for adults and seniors.  “We’re in an interesting time now,” says Gayna, “Where the word ‘senior’ is starting to mean more than one thing — we have this whole baby boomer generation, coming into or nearing retirement, but they’re active and interested in expanding their horizons and trying something new.  The ACA is a great, supportive, place to do that. We have classes for all levels.  I want to hear from those folks about what they’d like to see here at the Arlington Center for the Arts.”

Got an idea?
Gayna would love to hear from you! 

“ I love meeting new people of all ages and talking to them about their interest in the arts and the kinds of classes that teach them new ways to express their creativity.”

Feel free to contact Gayna with your questions or ideas.

Gayna loves doing candid portraits.  Here are some of her “Faces of Italy.”  To see Gayna’s photographic work, visit her website

WaiterSmileVert_6140cwElderly Sicilian woman pausing from sweeping, holding her broom. Sicilian_Fisherman_5475cw Elderly Sicilian woman. Sicily, Italy