Meet Your Teachers
Mrs. Benjamin is a founding art teacher at Bronx Excellence 3. She has been with the organization since 2017. Prior to joining Bronx Excellence, Mrs. Benjamin worked as an interior designer, designing corporate, healthcare, and higher education buildings.
Mr.Freitag is the classroom music teacher at Stamford Excellence and the Director of the Rhapsody Ensemble at Project Music. Prior to joining Stamford Excellence, he taught middle and high school chorus in Shepaug. His classes are performance and recording based, so students must come ready to make sound!
Mr. Cerreta is a founding art teacher at Stamford Excellence. He has taught at Stamford Excellence for the past 5 school years. He brings a wealth of visual art experience to the team and our scholars.
Mr. Hamilton has been a part of the BCSE community for the last two years. Mr. Hamilton comes with over 20 years of experience in performance and music education teaching: piano, brass, voice, music theory, music history, and music production. Here at BCSE Mr. Hamilton has been building an inclusive and supportive classroom environment. Mr. Hamilton is currently building a piano and music production program that prepares Scholars to be creative, expressive, and build their musicianship in this fast-paced, digital world.
Maurice Chestnut Newark, New Jersey native, began dancing at the age of five, under the direction of Mr. Alfred Gallman. He became a professional dancer at the age of nine as an original member of the New Jersey Tap Ensemble under the direction of Ms. Deborah Mitchell. As one of tap's brightest young stars, he was featured on The Sally Jesse Raphael Show in the "My Kid's A Star" segment, where he proudly proclaimed that he loved to dance and would keep doing it "until I die". He was a gold medalist in the NAACP Act-So competition and was crowned "Top Dog Performer" at The Apollo Theater. At the age of fourteen, the Newark Star-Ledger's arts reviewers named Maurice, "one of the twenty New Jersey faces watching for in the new millennium".
Darell J. Hunt, BFA, is a New York actor, singer, and activist. His performance credits include Off-Broadway theatre, regional theatre, concert performances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall and other respected venues throughout New York and the tristate area. His work as a teaching artist began with Creative Drama classes in college. He enjoys working with young minds and talents, encouraging them to tap into what he refers to as their wealth of "brainpower per square inch" within each classroom setting. He truly believes that the arts change lives.
Andrea Patterson is a professional actor and teaching artist that has performed on NYC stages, regional theaters, and on screen. Her recent TV credits include Blue Bloods (CBS), Manifest (NBC), and the (Netflix) original series Jessica Jones. In the midst of the pandemic, she saw an even greater need for the arts in education and established a new company, Art of Living Collective which is dedicated to addressing social issues through drama. As a veteran teaching artist, she decided to take her uniquely stylized approach to another level. She’s worked within all five boroughs with young people, educators, city council members, and more. She believes in the transforming power of theatre as a developmental tool and its’ ability to heal. Andrea’s approach to teaching acting is rooted in self-discovery and story-telling.
Shihan Van Clief is the 1st and only poet to have a poem named 'download of the week' on iTunes; this National Poetry Slam Champion and 4X National Poetry Slam Finalist has been featured on a variety of media outlets including 7 appearances on 6 seasons of HBO's Def Poetry, NBC, Oxygen Network, Current TV, Nike Battlegrounds, Reebok, Adidas, NBA, CNN, ESPN, Complex and Billboard Magazine, several national commercial spots, 5 National Tours including the Tony Award-Winning Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry Jam International Tour and 2 Spoken Word documentaries, SP!T and the sequel to 1997's cult doc Slam Nation, Slam Planet. His abilities to transcend cultural and generational boundaries have made Shihan a much sought after talent.