Our Program Experts
All summer programs are led by program experts who are seasoned professionals, passionate about their area of expertise and eager to share their knowledge with others.
In the Professional Kitchen
Chef Sam Monsour
Sam Monsour also known as “Chef Sam” at Cary Academy, learned the culinary arts from hands on learning at the age of ten in his father’s restaurant. By the age of fourteen, cooking was a lifelong career choice for him and later on in life he had the opportunity to manage and own several restaurants. For over fifteen years now, Sam continues to share his passion of the culinary arts with students at Cary Academy as its summer programs. He feels proud to know that he may contribute to someone else’s lifelong love for cooking. Many of Sam’s beloved family recipes have been passed down to his son, Chef Samuel Monsour, and are featured in his son’s book “American Burger Revival” published in the spring of 2015.
Chef Catherine Griffin
Catherine Griffin is an artist, instructor, and owner of Blue Monarch Art Center, Cary, NC. Studies in the visual and culinary arts along with a passion for teaching and giving back has led Catherine to teaching and to directing community based collaborative art projects. Teaching culinary arts is born of a love of good food and experimentation and from working with Executive Chef David Serco, University Club of Michigan State University, who believed that fine cooking is indeed an art! Catherine teaches at her own studio, Blue Monarch Art Center in Cary, NC , and also shares our love of the arts at Summer Programs at Cary Academy, the Cary Art Center, Cedar Fork Community Center, and SAS Institute. She is a past Co-President of Clayworks Pottery Guild, Durham, a former art instructor for The Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, MI, past President of Earthworks Art Center, Jackson, MI, Co-Founder and past President of Jackson Pottery and Clay Guild, and a founding member of Cultural Organization of Jackson, MI.
Chef Siobhan Loeffler
Siobhan Loeffler holds a culinary degree in classical French cuisine at JNA Institute of Culinary Arts in South Philadelphia. While growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, she developed her love of food in a family that loved to be in the kitchen. A majority of her career has been spent working in Italian restaurants throughout the Northeast and Midwest. She also spent several years at the Pop Shop in Collingswood, New Jersey, which was featured on an episode of Bobby Flay’s Throwdown on the Food Network. She loves to share her love of cooking with the others and has been a member of the culinary team at Cary Academy for 6 years. Siobhan’s enthusiasm for cooking comes from the idea that meals bring friends and loved ones together.
In the Design Studio
Lucia Barrett holds a Bachelor of Art + Design degree from NC State University’s College of Design with a focus in digital media and animation. Since then, she has been working as a freelance artist and animator. Currently she works with Simeck Entertainment as a lead character designer and 2D animator and is working with contacts within publishing groups to get a comic printed. She enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons, keeping up-to-date on her favorite shows, and maintaining her freshwater aquariums at home.
Maria Young holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Virgina Commonwealth University, and a Certificate in Education from University of Richmond with emphasis in Visual Arts. On her travels to Italy, Maria studied fine art under Italian masters; some of the classes she has taken include fresco painting, tempera painting, Renaissance ceramics, stained glass art, glass blowing, advanced drawing and painting and art history. Maria has also worked as an art conservator, restoring old oil paintings for major art collectors in the D.C. area. Maria is currently a licensed art and math teacher at Hopewell Academy in Cary, NC, and is very excited to share her love of art during the summer.
Leslie Williams holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Middle School Math Education from NC State University and has been a teacher since 1994 teaching math and technology to middle school students and adults. Working at Cary Academy, Leslie has been a Middle School Math Teacher since 2003, an Instructional Technology Facilitator since 2011, and has worked extensively with the Department of Diversity and Inclusion since 2008. She has presented work at national conferences in the areas of math, technology, and diversity and equity. She enjoys working with students over the summer sharing her passions of math, animals, and technology. During the school year, in addition to teaching math and supporting technology initiatives, Leslie offers a club teaching 3D design using CAD software with 3D printing along with coding.
At the Potter’s Wheel
Kay Parks holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from East Carolina University and a Masters in Art Education from Long Island University C.W. Post Campus, Brookville, NY. She has taught workshops in art studio and art history, taught in public school in New York and North Carolina, and taught at UNC – Wilmington. Currently she is a Faculty member at Cary Academy and teaches Ceramics, Art and Design, Advanced Art 2-D and 3-D, and Drawing. She enjoys sharing her creativity and enthusiasm for the studio arts and helping students to visually express themselves.
On Stage and Behind the Lens
Michelle Wells is an actor and teacher with a Masters in Theater Education from Emerson College, a Masters in History from Sam Houston State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Theater and Psychology from Meredith College. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of Sonorous Road Theatre where she leads classes, camps, and workshops in theatre and film while producing, directing and performing in professional theatre productions and films. Michelle has always been passionate about the arts and educating others and has taught and performed in Virginia, Boston, and London. She is incredibly honored to be back in her home state of North Carolina and is always looking for new opportunities to engage others through the arts.
Daryl Ray Carliles
Daryl Ray Carliles is a professional theatre, film, and TV actor, receiving his training from T. Schreiber Studio in NYC where he was also a member of the Jaradoa Theatre Company. While in NYC, he was a teaching artist for the companies “Arts For All” and “Improv For Kids”. He then went on to pursue a career in film production, earning the title of Assistant Director and Producer of several award winning films. Recently returning to the Triangle, he continues his acting career, while teaching Film and Theatre acting at Sonorous Road Theatre and Film Studio.
After gaining a foundation in the basics of storytelling through developing viral stop-motion animations with LEGO while in middle school, Andy turned his sights towards live action projects and soon found a brand-new studio called Sonorous Road. There he discovered and cultivated his passion for visual storytelling and has since worked on a number of features, corporate pieces, and shorts including his own award-winning film, After Yesterday. He currently attends Biola University near Los Angeles to further develop his love for cinema. Discover more of Andy’s work at josiahfilmproductions.com.
In the Shark Tank
Diane Rokuskie also known as The Play Fairy, has been harnessing the power of playfully engaging environments to connect families and grow smart, capable children for more than 25 years. Combining her knowledge of child development and previous experience as a professional Nanny, Early Childhood Trainer, and Director of Play Experience at a large children’s museum, Diane develops custom play experiences, classes, events and camps designed to spark a love of learning and joy of discovery in all who attend.
Kevin Pendergast is a Co-Founder of Full Flight Media, a media production company specializing in real estate and event videography. As a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kevin has spent the past few years diving into the entrepreneurial mindset while participating in the Entrepreneurship Minor program. Kevin spends his free time exploring his other passions of performing arts and carpentry. He looks forward to helping young entrepreneurs fine tune their startup skills and expand their entrepreneurial mind!
In the Recording Studio
Tom Hutchison (Keyboards, Voice, Composition, Illustration and Fine Arts) holds a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts Degree from University of NY at Buffalo Illustration Department and is the co-founder of Cary School of Creative Arts (CSCA). He has worked as an illustrator for publications including Texas Monthly, Boston Globe, Buffalo News and Raleigh’s News and Observer among others. As a professional musician, he has toured with the progressive rock band Anarchy-X, and the fusion band Stratus. At CSCA, Tom teaches Music Composition, Digital Keyboard, Piano, Rock Band and Advanced Illustration. Tom is the head coach for his son’s ice hockey team the Raleigh Thunder, and also enjoys boating, fishing, camping and skiing with his family. This summer will mark his 16th year teaching for Summer Programs at Cary Academy.
Denarius Thomas is an entrepreneur, self described food lover, music producer and has toured the world as a musician and sound engineer. Denarius brings a wealth of musical talent to Summer Programs at Cary Academy. Although he loves all genres of music, he is an incredible jazz, blues and hip hop guitarist and pianist. His engaging personality has made him a lead professional in the area of music. He currently oversees the music department at Cary Creative School of Arts’ Music and Visual Arts Center in Clayton.
Chris Visi holds a Master’s Degree in Music with an emphasis in MIDI/Synthesis, Percussion, Piano and Composition from Western Carolina University as well as a BA and BM both in different areas of music. He currently works as an Associate Professor of Music at North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC where he focuses his teachings in music technology, business and music and entertainment industries. Chris began instructing for Summer Programs at Cary Academy in 2014 and he is eager to return for another summer. When not teaching at NCCU or with Summer Programs at Cary Academy, he enjoys playing with his band, snowboarding and other outdoor activities.,