Our teachers come from completely different backgrounds, educations, and places. We're excited to have such a diverse set of art instructors. Below are some of our active teachers and past teachers.
We are always looking for new teachers and classes! If you are interested or have a new class idea, please feel free to apply.
Victoria Byers, Teaching Artist
Victoria is a multi-disciplinary artist and community interpreter based in Charlotte, North Carolina, who advocates for the Latino community through the arts. Victoria graduated Suma Cum Laude from UNC Charlotte with both a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography and a Bachelors of Arts in Spanish and currently lives in Charlotte, NC. In addition to working in the field of photography, Victoria's work expands into the fields of Fibers, Installation, Painting and Digital Design. In 2015, Byers developed her own Photography summer camp in an undocumented immigrant community in the Charlotte area. Victoria currently works as a teaching artist at Behailu and as an advocate and activist for social justice in the greater Charlotte community. After being displayed at the Levine Museum of the New South, her on-going documentarian body of work entitled Nowhere | Now Here, which tells the stories of immigrant individuals living in a small community in North Carolina, continues to open doors in the community and provide opportunities for conversation and understanding.
Ben Grandin, Teaching Artist
Ben found his way to Behailu through his long time friend, bandmate, and former music teacher at Behailu, Travis Denton. Ben started playing music in grade school with the trumpet and then discovered a love for the drums. Hailing from central New Jersey, he came to North Carolina in 1996 and graduated from Belmont Abbey College in 2001 with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management. Ben is a songwriter who has spent the last 20+ years playing with musicians in the Charlotte area. He has a great love for the music community in Charlotte. He plays the drums, guitar, bass, piano, and sings. Ben enjoys seeing students develop that same love for music and then work to find their own unique voice, making their own mark on the beautiful landscape that is Charlotte music!
Jennifer Hawthorne, Mindfulness Educator
Jennifer is a psychologist, with a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Davidson College. Jennifer has a private practice working in therapy with youth, adults, and families. She has been practicing mindfulness since 2010 and is a Mindful Schools Certified Instructor. She teaches the Mindfulness Class at Behailu academy, consults with public and private schools to bring mindfulness to their staff and students, offers trainings in mindfulness to local organizations, and co-leads a Mindful Moms 6-week course. She is the wife of a firefighter and Charlotte-native, and mother to two boys (who happen to be two of her strongest mindfulness teachers whether she likes it or not). Jennifer is focused on joining with people of all ages to work towards a life that is enjoyable and meaningful for them.
Trevor Hoskins, Culinary Arts Instructor
Trevor is the owner of Chef Trevor’s Personal & Private Chef Services. My passion for the culinary arts has led me on an exciting path of creativity, interaction with the community, and even self-discovery. I have learned throughout my career that the gift of food is intended to be shared. Food is intended to bring people of all walks of life together. Food is intended nourish our minds, bodies, and souls. My interest in culinary arts began at a young age. As a small child, I enjoyed observing the process of my parents and grandparents create a feast from raw ingredients and combining them into delicious meals. I felt the love in their food, and I knew right away that I wanted to bring those elements from a small family’s kitchen to a broader audience. After graduating high school in 2000, I enrolled in Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina. There, I was exposed to a myriad to different types of cuisines and techniques that would form my future as a chef. The greatest lesson I learned in culinary school was ‘Food is only as good as the passion you put into it’. This statement echoes through my mind each time I pick up a knife, turn on an oven, or search for the freshest ingredients for my next culinary creation.
Throughout my career, I have so graciously had the opportunity to manage numerous restaurants and kitchens with other talented chefs, create meal plans for professional athletes and busy parents looking for nutritious meals for their families, and cater wedding receptions, birthdays, health fairs, etc.
As I continue my journey through the culinary arts, I hope to share my passion of food with the hungry for nourishment of their minds, bodies, and souls.
Shane Manier, Teaching Artist
Shane Manier is a local artist, live painter, poet and graphic designer based in North Carolina. She is the founder of the activist/outreach art collective Guerilla Poets with branches in the US and UK. As a poet and artist, she has been featured at many shows, events and venues all across North Carolina and completed many outreach programs and projects as an activist with organizations such as The Relatives, Time Out Youth, Supportive Housing Communities, and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Juvenile Detention System through Tym,Inc. and SHIFT. Currently she is the Spoken Word Teaching Instructor for Behailu Arts Academy, Henderson Independent High School and serves on the board for CCAG Artists Collective in Cornelius North Carolina.
Colleen Murphy, Teaching Artist
Colleen Murphy is a graphic designer, photographer, and painter. She is also founder and editor-in-chief of TOWN Mag, an alumni magazine for her hometown public school in Watertown, Connecticut. Colleen has worked in different creative positions throughout the globe, including Florence, Italy, Boston, MA, and San Francisco, CA. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design and Minor in Photography from Northeastern University. Currently she works remotely in Charlotte, NC as the Lead Creative for a tech company located in San Francisco.
Lynnette Rivera, Teaching Artist
Lynnette Rivera has worked in the theater business as an actor, director, teacher, producer, educator and activist for over 20 years. A native New Yorker - born and raised in East Harlem - Lynnette started her career as an actor/educator with STAR Theatre, a Theatre education program within Mount Sinai's Adolescent Health Center in NYC where she would perform age appropriate material for schools and centers throughout the city in both the public and private sectors. Upon entering Fiorello H. Laguardia school for the performing arts, Lynnette grew with the company in various positions from Production Manager to Musical Director.
Lynnette has worked with young people in many different capacities; She was a part of Mind Builders Positive Youth Troupe based out of the Bronx where she performed their "On the Edge" piece in a theatre run at the National Black Theater of Harlem. As a Teaching Artist for Children and The Classics Theatre, based out of the Chelsea area in NYC, Lynnette would use Theatre for social change as a model for introducing classical writings with the goal of improving literacy for Social Service Organizations and Beacon Programs serving at risk youth. As a Community Coordinator for The Teens Pact Pregnancy Prevention Program in Central Harlem, Lynnette developed a Theatre Ed component for their Peer Education Program. This component lead to her directing and producing of "Something to Think about" an educational video series focusing on Adolescent Health, relationship abuse and decision making that is currently utilized in many clinical settings and drew interest from the Board of Education as an introduction to sexuality education within the public High Schools. Lynnette played as one of the main developers for the CDC's Theater in Education Model Technical Assistant Training Institute (TATI)and has offered Technical Assistance on a national level.
Jonathan Thull, Educator
Jonathan is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor, a Nationally Certified Counselor, and a Registered Play Therapist. He holds a Master’s Degree in clinical mental health counseling, with a Graduate Certificate in play therapy from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. He has also completed a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution from the University of North Carolina Greensboro.
Outside of the therapy room, I enjoy adventure like skydiving and scuba diving. I also appreciate being in nature and working on community garden projects to save the earth. I love to learn new things and will always be a student of life and still might go back to school again. I will push myself to learn as much as I can in my short life. And of course, I like spending as much time as I can at amazing organization like Behailu Academy!
Omar is a local DJ, artist and educator who has a background in Psychology and Counseling. Omar has spent the majority of his professional career working in higher education at UNC Charlotte and Central Piedmont Community College. Omar has always had a passion for art and is a Knight Foundation Grant Recipient. Omar is using his grant funds to work with local graffiti artist, Deneer Davis, to introduce street art and other art forms. Both artists will discuss the therapeutic nature of art and how self expression can be used in a variety of positive ways. Omar loves art, music and culture and hopes to bring the artist out of everyone.
Elizabeth Palmisano, Teaching Artist
Elizabeth works across several mediums including painting, printmaking, book arts, and fibers. Her work is in private and public collections and has been exhibited at galleries such as The McColl Center for Art & Innovation, Gallery 22, and C3 Gallery. Elizabeth majored in Early Childhood Education at a community college before transferring to Winthrop for her Bachelors in Special Education and Fine Art. She has worked with children, youth, and adults as a teacher and mentor and served as artist-in-residence at Fort Mill Preparatory Cooperative Preschool for the 2016-17 school year. Currently, Elizabeth is a professional teaching artist at Ballantyne Preschool of the Arts and Behailu Academy. She facilitates workshops at substance use treatment facilities with Artist Recovery Movement, a Charlotte area nonprofit. Additionally, she teaches workshops accredited with the Center for Child Care Career Development and has been a guest presenter at York Technical College and at various state conventions for educators in both Carolinas.
Jabari Adams, Educator