Creative Learning Place Teachers

Karen Golden
Founder and Director of Creative Learning Place, Storytelling, Recorder, Speaker's League, Celebration Education

Karen began telling stories at her dinner table at age three and playing the saxophone at eight. Today her table is the size of the world! Karen teaches the art of storytelling through workshops and residencies at schools, universities, and other educational institutions. In 2016 she went on her first international storytelling tour in China, S. Korea and Hong Kong and both performed and taught at ten international schools for a total of 48 shows. In 2009 Karen was chosen to be on the Los Angeles County Arts Commission roster of teaching artists and in that same year she founded CLP. Karen is also an accomplished musician on saxophone, recorder, ocarina, accordion and nose flute. She was a homeschool mom for 17 years and now she is officially done with homeschooling her own kids as they are both at the university. 

Christina Borraez 


Christina has been a professional in the fashion world for many years as a designer, patternmaker and educator. She learned how to sew at a young age andhas taught children and adults for over 10 years. Her interests include swimming laps, photography, ancient history and family.



Miriam Cantor 

American Sign Language 

Miriam Cantor is a Teacher of the Deaf and an Educational Therapist (ET/P).  She is retired from Marlton School, LAUSD’s school for the Deaf, where she taught Primary through Secondary levels, specializing in Special Needs Deaf students.  At Marlton, Miriam had the benefit of being exposed, and immersed in Deaf Culture.  Miriam first learned to sign while working as a secretary for a project for the Deaf at the Jewish Vocational Service in Chicago, an ideal way to learn.  She has also worked in the Washington, DC area, with access to cultural events and classes at Gallaudet University, and involvement in the Washington Society for Jewish Deaf.  Miriam has taught ASL through San Diego Adult School, and LAUSD Professional Development classes. Miriam has had the pleasure of using her Sign Language skills creatively through interpreting selected activities at the former Summer Solstice Festival in LA, and performing with the late storyteller, Kathleen Zundell through 2 grants from the LA Dept. of Cultural Affairs.  Miriam is happy for the opportunity of sharing with you and your families her many experiences with the Deaf. 

Fu-Tien Chiou
STEAM + Arts

Fu-Tien Chiou created and teaches the STEAM (STEM+Arts) course for Art Experience Studio in Torrance, CA. He has extensive experience in the design and construction of physical buildings and virtual buildings, also known as web sites. He has won design awards in both physical and virtual architecture. Architecture is a unique profession combining art and science.  Fu-Tien has the training and experience in art, design, and engineering. 

Fu-Tien obtained master of architecture from Georgia Tech. He is a licensed architect in California and Taiwan where he grew up. He has practiced architecture and user experience design for over three decades. He has lectured in many design conferences and taught design courses at the UCI Extension Program. 

Ryanne Plaisance and City Kids School Teachers
Global Education, United Nations 

City Kids mission is to create future innovators, global responsible citizens, and mindful individuals. Teachers are trained to identify every child's learning style to allow for each child to reach their potential. Classes are taught using project-based learning while empowering and motivating every student to own their education.

Heidi Joyce
Model UN and High School English

Arts Educator with certification by the AOSA; child development UCLA and UC Boulder; Early Childhood Education with George Forman, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with specialty in the Reggio Emilia Approach. Indiana University, Phi Beta Kappa, music and theatre. Writer for Kennedy Center, PBS, Reader’s Digest. Heidi initiated the Los Angeles Homeschool Model UN in the summer of 2014 and has received training as a Model UN facilitator through several university conferences and institutes. The Studio City Branch of the Los AngelesPublic Library currently sponsors her Model UN workshop in the valley. She is also known throughout the Los Angeles homeschool community as the creator and director of The College- Bound Literature and Theatre Lab which premieres a new theatre piece each June and as the creator and teacher of the Multi-Genre Writing Workshop also sponsored by the Studio City Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. Heidi led the West Valley Homeschoolers Parkday for many years and currently hosts the Teen/Tween Monthly Game Night in Studio City. 

Tessie Harrasti 
Drama and Improv

Tessie Herrasti was born in Mexico City. At 19, she moved to Paris, France and lived there for eight years receiving a Masters Degree from the Sorbonne University where she studied Drama Therapy and the strategy of using Art to overcome violence and global conflicts. She has taught theater at a variety of venues for all ages while acting in films and theater productions. Currently, she is working on three novels, adapting one of them into a screenplay and she is the head of a Creativity Workshop Group in Midcity, Los Angeles. She speaks Fluent English, Spanish and French and has a good conversational level of German. 


Brian Julian

Kids to Kings connects two things that were meant to be together:  Children and Chess.  The company was started by Chess Mentor, Brian Julian who began his Chess career in 2010 working for an after-school program that services under privileged children in the Compton area.  He was so inspired that few years later he founded "Kids To Kings" in order to bring the joy of this 2000 year old "game of kings" to children's homes, in a one on one setting.  Since then it has grown rapidly servicing homes in every part of town.  The company also has several after-school and summer camp programs but now Brian and his team of skilled Chess Tutors want to make Chess accessible to home-schoolers!  Brian was home-schooled as a child and has always thought of it as something that makes him unique and special, like a super power!  And every super hero should play Chess.  The best part of Chess is how it simply and subtly reminds children of important kingly core values such as Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Indomitable Spirit, and Self-Control.  Actually the best, best part of the game is how it creates a level playing field for all involved.  It breaks down the barriers of class, race, wealth, and status and gives each child an equal opportunity for success.  Chess isn't just a game, it is life!  

Valorie Knutson
Writing Wonderland, English

Valorie has an MA in English from USC and a BA in Journalism/Writing from Texas State University. While passionate about English, Writing, and Communications, she enjoys Mathematics and Science equally and has been homeschooling her son since 2012.  Over the past 20 years, her professional focus has been in teaching and providing energy work, sound healing, and meditation.  Valorie finds acting as a guide and holding the space for others to expand their awareness, knowledge, and abilities fulfilling and fun.


Eric Kogan
Math Circle, Choir

Eric Kogan has a BE in Highway Construction and a BA in Music and Choir Conducting. Early in his career, Eric worked as draftsman for an engineering firm and later directed a Children's Choir with occasional jazz guitar gigs.

His passion for math was reinvigorated with the arrival of his son, Ethan, who from the very early age exhibited interest in numbers and puzzles.

         In 2011, while a homeschool dad, Eric became a Room Parent for Dr. Oleg Gleizer's class at Los Angeles Math Circle at UCLA.  Being present at most of Dr. Oleg Gleizer’s lectures for 6 years, alongside his son and other students, Eric helped children  to learn the material presented in class. For Ethan, this resulted in a series of successful participations in math competitions, including winning  1st place in the nation in a Math Kangaroo contest and a high placing in AMC8 and BAMO (Bay Area Math Olympiad).

And now Math Circle cometh to CLP.  Be warned!

Galit Levi
Puppetry and Clowning

Galit Levi is an arts educator and professional performer with 15 years of teaching experience. She also has an extensive background in theatre arts. For years, she was a member of Zoo District, a prominent theatrical company based in Los Angeles. Galit’s theatrical training includes, The Baltimore School for the Arts, The Hungarian National Circus School, Second City Los Angeles, The Los Angeles Clown School, Tom Dougherty from Ringling Brothers Clown College,The Puppet School in Los Angeles, and The Idiot Workshop with John Gilkey of Cirque du Soleil. She travels to schools and camps performing her clown Bubble Shows as well as teaching workshops in clowning and puppetry/storytelling and puppet-making.

Galit specializes in fun and laughter. Her lessons fuse the joy of clowning with the power of self-expression and the celebration of mistakes through improvisation.

Mary Middlebrook
Biology, Earth Science, Costa Rica/ Malaysia 

Mary has a degree in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston, and has spent almost 25 years in the aquarium trade, handling marine animals from all over the world. In 2010, she began homeschooling her son, and discovered a passion for teaching. She created curriculae for Marine Biology and World Geography and held classes and private tutoring sessions at her home for local home schoolers. She also began teaching those subjects at a private school, along with middle school English, Science, Math, and Social Studies. Mary's approach gets children excited about subjects though a variety of methods, including lectures, videos, experiments, hands on activities, creative projects, and field trips.

Julianna Ostrovsky

Julianna has an MFA in painting and sculpture from Columbia University. Her work has been nationally and internationally exhibited. As a teaching artist, Julianna has instructed workshops for grades K-12 and in in-depth painting and drawing studios for youth and adults. She currently teaches the young artist workshops at Otis College of Art and Design.


Abraham Rav-Noy
Legos, Robotics and Engineering

Abraham Rav-Noy is a student at Cal State LA. Since  the  age of fourteen he has been teaching several engineering classes in various schools, afterschool programs, and summer camps, often in schools that don't have science programs. He has always wanted to be an engineer. But were no engineering classes for him to take. He doesn't want children to be deterred from engineering because they've never had a chance to explore it. He curates his courses to incorporate a strong hands-on learning experience.  He believes thatchildren love learning, there is no reason they can't have fun doing so.

Hyla Rachwal
Travel Geography, Women In History, Dystopian Book Club

Hyla Rachwal is a former homeschooler and recent graduate from Cal State, Long Beach with a B.A. in Women’s Studies and a minor in Spanish. She has a lot of experience teaching and working with children at summer camps, leadership seminars, and pre-schools. She has also worked extensively with students who have diverse abilities. Hyla spent her Junior year studying in Argentina and Spain, which broadened her world view and deepened her knowledge on global issues, geography, and culture. Hyla is passionate about human rights and has dreams to become a human rights attorney. She recognizes the importance of fostering a passion in learning and teaching students how to write and think critically.

Steve Rachwal
Think, Write, Logic and Teamwork and Math, Oh My!! Current Events, World History

Steve Rachwal was a home school dad for 17 years; and an image maker specializing in graphic design, photography, illustration and writing/editing for longer than that. He has created over 30 book designs and over 200 book covers for a wide range of clients, including Random House, Chronicle Books, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The J. Paul Getty Museum of Art, John Wiley & Sons, etc. etc. He focuses on helping each student discover their own passions and guides them to find creative ways to express themselves.

Crystal Reed
College and Career Counselor

Crystal Reed has over a decade of experience helping high school students figure out “What’s next?” Her forte is helping young people find the right next step to support their long-term goals while minimizing stress and anxiety. She also has extensive experience assisting students with learning differences with this all-important process.


Student Fitness Experts
Fitness Progression / foundational Fitness and Cooking/nutrition

Karen Jashinsky and Farrah Zweig are two fitness professionals who grew up in Jewish Orthodox communities. They both discovered fitness in their teen years and found that it played an instrumental role in their lives. At a time when self confidence and insecurities could have gotten the best of them, each found a way for fitness to transform their teenage years. They are passionate about helping others find a way for fitness to be the backbone of their lifestyle. Their mission is to help students achieve their goals and passions with confidence from the inside - out. Together they founded Student Fitness Experts,  a revolutionary fitness program that creates a completely personalized experience for each student. 

Aaron Vanek
Analog Game Design

A veteran and still active game designer with over 30 years experience in both pen & paper and video games. He has designed games for the Girl Scouts of America, the Paul Biane Public Library in Rancho Cucamonga (Harry Potter Family Fun Day), the San Diego Public Library (Bookworm in 2014 and Something Wicked This Way for their 2016 Shakespeare First Folio exhibition), the West Hollywood Book Fair, Gamedesk, and Sanrio, Inc., among many others. His role-playing game adventures were published by Chaosium, Inc. and soon at Pelgrane Press, with a forthcoming supplement from Sixtystone Press. He is also the vice-chair of The Game Academy (, a 501c3 non-profit that fosters learning through games. He is entering his third year teaching Design (previously Analog Game Design) at Kabbalah Children's Academy. 

Samantha Zitola
The Magic Of  Social and Emotional Connectivity

Samantha is  passionate about learning and loves watching and participating in the learning process of children.  She has a BS in Speech, Language and Hearing Disorders from U-Mass Amherst, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Simmons College in Boston. She has taught private school, public school, been a special education assistant, substitute teacher, tutor, nanny, and facilitator for parent/child play groups.  She is proud to be a homeschooling mom, and has done it since day one with her daughter.  She moved to LA from Cape Cod, MA 3 years ago and has been honored to be  at CLP since her move.  She is thrilled to be teaching again!  Her hobbies include:  scrap booking, crafts, cooking/baking, gardening, enjoying nature, and learning/exploring new things with herdaughter.