Our Instructors


Eileen Liu<

Eileen Liu

Eileen Liu loves teaching, baking, country music, and piano. Eileen is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Physiology from the University of Toronto. Originally from Vancouver, she has a strong passion for working with children and youth, aiming for a career path in the field of pediatric care. She loves working at summer camps, tutoring math and science, teaching piano for a children’s charity in downtown Toronto, and volunteering at the children’s hospital. Nothing is more heart-warming than seeing those bright smiles on children’s faces! When Eileen isn’t teaching or drowning with exams, you’ll find her jamming on the piano, exploring delicious recipes, and sharing laughs with family and friends. Eileen is very excited to be part of the Explore It! team, with the hopes in creating a positive and interactive learning environment for children to embrace creativity, boost confidence, and take on new challenges!



Rebecca Ballarin<

Rebecca Ballarin

Rebecca is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto and an independent theatre director, producer, and designer working in Toronto.

Learning is what Rebecca loves most about being an artist: Learning from colleagues, and learning through the research she does for each project she takes on. She is always seeking out workshops, conferences, podcasts, lectures and exhibits that will challenge her to explore other art forms and to think in new and different ways. When she isn’t in rehearsals (or preparing for them) Rebecca loves to spend her time learning Italian, breaking a sweat at a Zumba class, relaxing with some watercolor painting, cooking up a delicious new meal, or traveling with family and friends.

Though most of her experience working with children has been teaching drama, she is really excited to bring her passion for exploration and discovery to the other subject areas she will dive into with her students this term. She hopes she can inspire and motivate them to keep learning and asking questions long after they finish school!


Shiyomi Joseph<

Shiyomi Joseph

Shiyomi has three passions in life: music, baking and teaching. Her goal is to be able to live out all three passions each and every day. Everything began from an early age with piano and violin lessons, to attending an Arts-based high school, which then led her to the University of Toronto, where she graduated with both a Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education. She has a wide set of teaching experiences ranging from high school band to special needs classrooms. She also has been an avid volunteer at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Her journey to Explore It! began after graduating and seeking out a teaching opportunity that allowed both herself and the students to be challenged, yet flourish and grow in their abilities. Since joining Explore It! she has taught many culinary programs and is curious as to what other subjects she will be sent to explore as she enjoys adapting to new situations and learning, in order to see smiles on her students’ faces!

When Shiyomi is not teaching Explore It! programs, she is the Children’s Director of Parkway Forest Church and a member of the Orpheus Choir of Toronto. You can also find her geeking out to Disney movies, searching for new foods to try, reading multiple books at a time and dreaming big.


Anna  Labounskaia<

Anna Labounskaia

Anna has received an undergraduate in Criminology and English from the University of Toronto, before enrolling in Teacher’s College at York University. She has a passion for learning herself as well as teaching others in subjects such as politics, law, and history! As well, she has a passion for travelling, and wishes to combine her two interests in the future by teaching abroad! In her spare time, she loves reading books, visiting museums, exploring nature, and playing tennis! She has recently joined the team at Explore It! but is greatly enjoying working for the company, and cannot wait for the programs to come! Anna loves working with young learners and expanding their knowledge on a range of subjects, including how to play chess, LEGO, how to cook, etc. Her teaching philosophy is that, not only do students learn from teachers, but teachers too have something to learn from their students! 


Bianca Heuvelmans<

Bianca Heuvelmans

So this is Bianca- She's a passionate bilingual musical theatre performer and a very thrilled instructor with the Explore It! team this Fall! She is a Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts graduate and has 7 years of experience in education/working with kids both in french and in english, which she hopes to continue for many years to come. Bianca believes in focus, discipline, learning from each other, having a laugh, and as Mrs. Frizzle would say; taking chances, making mistakes, and gettin' messy!


Gina Brintnell<

Gina Brintnell

Gina J. Brintnell continuing goal is to find a balance in life as an artist, arts instructor, academic and administrator. She holds an M.A. from the University of Toronto in Drama, Theory and Performance, as well as a B.A. in Theatre Studies from York University. Her experiences include several plays, improv teams, a summer at the Kids Company at the Thousand Island Playhouse, as well as arts programs with the talented kids from Extend-A-Family Kingston.

Gina hopes to purse a further education in drama therapy to facilitate confidence building and as an expressive and emotional outlet. She quickly caught on that young people are much brighter than what most give them credit for, and that only good things can happen when their instincts and intelligence are trusted! She has learnt an immense amount from those less than half her age!


Georgia Kirkos<

Georgia Kirkos

A Professional Freelance Photographer

Loves to teach: Photography, Photo Editor and Lego Animation!

Georgia Kirkos has been a professional photographer for over fifteen years, working in various aspects of the field. As a photographer, Georgia shoots in various styles for a wide range of clients.  She is comfortable with both portraiture and photojournalistic modes, adapting her work to the needs of the client.  These clients, both corporate and private, include: Rogers Cable, Molson Coors, Scotiabank, CHUM Radio, Toyota, the Nuremberg Opera House, Skazmos Theatre, Gaiety Magazine, and Mansfield Press.  She has been entrusted with shooting luminaries in various fields, including President George W. Bush, premier dancer Rex Harrington, singer Jann Arden, writers Robert Munsch and Wayson Choy, political activists Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell (the Canadian couple behind the world’s first legal gay marriage), and Interior Designer Brian Gluckstein. Georgia also worked as the studio manager of Reportage Photography, Canada’s first documentary photo studio, which holds the largest archive of weddings shot in a photojournalistic style.  In this position, she gained experience in the business aspect of the field, managing major photo shoots and a team of twenty photographers.

Georgia is excited about moving into the next chapter of her career as a photography instructor.


Trevor Homeniuk<

Trevor Homeniuk

Trevor is originally from Alberta a with NFLD heritage. He studied fine art (BFA.) then travelled to Korea to teach ESL for 3 years , 안녕하새요! He then studied education at Queen's U. and so became a certified teacher (BEd.) in Canada in 2013.  Since then He's taught Anishnabek students in Ontario, English immersion students in a school famous for soy milk, and art, design and drama students at a B.C. international school. He's currently most interested in how various projects, the arts and the outdoors can encourage students to find their hidden leadership skills and abilities.



Hayley Carr<

Hayley Carr

Hayley is an actor, theatre performer and yogi. She Graduated from the Canadian College of Performing Arts on Vancouver Island. She has been performing her whole life and has worked for many theatre companies including the Chemainus Theatre Festival, Arts Club Theatre, Gateway Theatre and Western Canada Theatre. Hayley has been teaching for over ten years, she has taught drama, creative movement, and musical theatre in Vancouver and Toronto. She also co-created and performed in many children's shows and has a passion for spreading her love of theatre and storytelling to kids of all ages. She is also recently completed her yoga teachers training at the Yoga Sanctuary and is a certified yoga instructor.  Hayley is overjoyed to be part of the amazingly diverse Explore it! family and looks forward to teaching and learning from all of her students. 


Gloria Zhang<

Gloria Zhang

Gloria believes in the power of sharing – she finds that learning from one another is what makes life rich and exciting. Every new connection made is an opportunity to discover something, whether it is a fact, a story, or an opinion. Gloria constantly pushes herself to discover more, especially enjoying studying the sciences, getting lost in tales from around the world, and attempting new techniques in art. Over the years, she has enthusiastically gathered a wealth of knowledge. Now, she hopes to share what she knows. Having recently completed undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, she is looking forward to taking her next steps towards her dream of becoming a teacher. Her ultimate goal is to stand at the front of a classroom one day, passing on her enthusiasm for discovery to her students. She is excited and grateful to be starting her journey as an instructor with Explore It!. With an optimistic outlook and a can-do attitude, Gloria eagerly anticipates a journey full of laughter and learning!


Heather Pettigrew<

Heather Pettigrew

A Professional Marine Educator with a B.A. in Biology from the University of Western Ontario

Loves to teach: Duct Tape Art, Rainbow Loom, Sports and ANYTHING Science related!

Heather has lots of energy and enthusiasm especially when it comes to science and the environment! She graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a B.A., Hons. in biology and has lots of experience that has taken her across the country teaching engineering and environmental science to children. She especially loves LEGO building and Jr. Science but is also very active! Heather loves to play and coach soccer, yoga, and anything that involves movement! She loves getting children excited and happy about what they are doing, and is herself excited to be a member of the Explore It! team.


Eva Peringer<

Eva Peringer

Eva has been craft fanatic all her life.

Eva made her stage debut at the age of five as Gertie Pye in a summer camp production of Anne of Green Gables, and her life has not been the same since! Between age five and now, Eva has worked exclusively with kids in the arts, as well as perusing her studies in theatre. Eva is a proud graduate of the Ryerson Theatre School with a degree in Performance Acting. As well she has had small businesses including jewelry design (age 10-13), and currently paper arts which she sells online. She loves kids and all things creative, so is delighted to be working with Explore It!


Chelsea Dab Hilke<

Chelsea Dab Hilke

Chelsea is a trained and experienced theatre-maker and has worked and lived in Montreal, New York City, and Toronto. She is delighted to call Toronto her home for the last 5 years and is always in awe of the beauty, creativity, and energy this city has. Chelsea has been working as a stage director since graduating from the University of Toronto with a specialist in Drama in 2011, and is constantly looking for innovative and exciting ways to create and collaborate with other artists. Working with Explore It! has been an extremely enlightening experience and has changed Chelsea's approach to her own work exponentially. She appreciates the opportunity to work with young students and continues to learn so much from them - their creativity, imagination, and honesty is unparalleled.

In her free time, Chelsea can be found cycling around Toronto, reading in her garden, attempting to grow vegetables, and travelling the world.


Jessica Tartaglia<

Jessica Tartaglia

Jessica is always passionate about learning new things and getting to share my knowledge with people. She is a graduate from the University of Guelph Zoology program. During university she enjoyed volunteering for Nature Guelph and at the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory. She loves animals and has a wide range of knowledge about both local and exotic animals but she especially has a fascination with insects. In her free time she can be found going for hikes, crocheting nests for wildlife rehab animals, taking pictures of plants and animals, playing ringette, or exploring the country. She has spent the last 4 summers planting trees in Northern Ontario and B.C. which has given her the opportunity to work outside. Jessica was in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets for 7 years where she learned lots of outdoors and survival skills and she discovered her love of educating young people. She is very excited teaching with Explore It! and learning new things along with her students.


Tharaney  Vimalan<

Tharaney Vimalan

Tharaney is completing her undergrad as an English major and a French minor at York University. She has had a love for art all throughout her high school years and it has inspired her to become an English major. How, you may ask: the close relation between the two and the history behind it all is what inspires her to apply the beauty in literature and art to daily life. She has done a teaching internship in Egypt, and drama, science, art classes in Toronto. She has also done French language immersion in Trois-Pistoles, Québec over the summer of 2016. Tharaney loves to learn new things constantly, enlightening herself to the world's diversity all while living and studying it. Which is why she loves to travel and explore all the world has to offer besides Toronto. Also why she encourages students to try new things rather than living a routinely childhood! It is because she has been forced into trying countless number of hobbies as a child that she can depict where her passion lies: shaping our future, our kids!


Meryl Calaguas Taylor<

Meryl Calaguas Taylor

Meryl has an undergraduate degree in Family Life & Child Development. Her passion and love for children began in the classroom, as she spent time with toddlers and young children. She was fascinated by their energy and intelligence and quickly decided to shift career paths from medicine to education. She pursued fitness after graduating and became a certified antigravity fitness, yoga, and TRX teacher. She loved teaching classes that allowed her to interact and encourage others to enjoy working out. Her interest in Art Therapy brought her to Toronto for studies. She enjoys working with clients of different ages and needs as she realized her true calling of witnessing and being with people. The best part of her work is meeting new people, and seeing the strength and wisdom in each individual. Her thesis involved working with mothers of children with special needs. Meryl enjoys painting, exercise, as well as relaxing activities like household chores.


Gillian Murphy<

Gillian Murphy

Gillian has Bilingual degree in Drama Studies and Psychology from Glendon College, York University. While she was a student at Glendon she spent most of her time in the campus theatre designing productions, building sets, sewing costumes, and producing or directing shows. She is a trained actor, dancer, and singer but she's obsessed with all forms of creativity and how they can enhance education. When she's not working for Explore It! you will find her on her yoga mat or volunteering at the Mary Ward Centre for Truth and Justice at UofT.


Zahra  Abdolghaffari <

Zahra Abdolghaffari

Zahra is currently completing her bachelor of fine arts in early childhood education at George Brown College. She's always been passionate about working with children and helping them learn new traits. Before working with Explore It! Zahra taught arts and crafts to children between the ages of 4-8. She also spent some time at a day camp as a camp leader to school aged children, playing games and teaching them all sorts of new things. One of her favourite memories of working with children was when one of her students drew a picture of him holding hands with Zahra and wrote “I love Zahra. She’s the best. We all love Zahra.” After graduating, Zahra hopes to pursue her dream of becoming an elementary school teacher and working with children of all ages.


Maggie Koabel<

Maggie Koabel

Maggie Koabel is a dancer, choreographer and dance historian. She is a recent graduate of York University where she completed an Honours Double Major with a BFA in Dance and a BA in Religious Studies. Prior to attending York University, Maggie liked to think of herself as a ballerina, achieving her Advanced One in Cecchetti examinations and spending five seasons with the Greater Niagara Ballet Company in Niagara Falls, New York. Here she performed both as a soloist and a member of the company’s corps de ballet, expanding her repertoire to include a wide variety of both classical and contemporary ballets. In more recent years Maggie has become interested in interdisciplinary and collaborative art performances. As a student she took every opportunity to choreograph and perform in extracurricular creations including All You Can Eatwhich premiered at the Winchester Street Theatre in collaboration with rock ’n’ roll band Our History of Cowboys.Maggie believes in pushing the boundaries of dance and making movement more accessible to wider audiences and participants. In recent works she has asked dancers to build with and jump from milk crates piled on a stage (Things are Happening… 2010), and has attempted to suspend herself from a pillar at the Deleon White Gallery (A Woman’s Work, 2010). Not to worry, both pieces required dancers to wear a helmet!

In her spare time, Maggie enjoys practicing yoga, cooking, baking, travelling and spending time with her family. Someday, she has plans of becoming a classroom teacher, but not just yet. Until then, Maggie is very excited to be an active part of the Explore It! community!


Sarah White<

Sarah White

Sarah is a producer, actor and writer with a passion for bringing the arts to children and teens. She holds an honours bachelor of arts from the University of Toronto where she majored in political science. She was recently accepted into Humber College’s post-graduate creative fiction program and will start the program this spring. For the past decade Sarah has been acting in films, television, and theatre as well as doing commercial voice work. While pursuing her acting career Sarah also began the theatre company Snowdrop Productions which specializes in plays about Canada from the turn of the century. She has been running drama programs for children since 2012 working with students ranging in age from 4 all the way up to 14. Explore It! has allowed her to do what she loves while also expanding her horizons and challenging her with new topics and classes to teach! Sarah is also an avid traveller, her favourite travelling memories include jumping off a 45ft cliff into the ocean in Jamaica, climbing up Old Man Storr on the Isle of Skye, and walking inside New Grange in Ireland.


Chelsea Woolley<

Chelsea Woolley

Chelsea Woolley is a playwright and educator. She is a graduate from The National Theatre School of Canada and The University of Lethbridge. Her work has been seen in Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes. It has been the recipient of several provincial and national playwriting awards. In 2016, Chelsea attended the Banff Playwright’s Colony, and in 2017, she was selected to take part in the National New Play Network’s MFA Playwright’s Workshop at the Kennedy Centre, in Washington DC. As a certified teacher, Chelsea has taught theatre, history, English, politics, (and even math) in schools, as well as directed a school musical. Currently Chelsea’s play for young people, The Mountain is touring with Geordie Productions.


Aaron Alviano<

Aaron Alviano

Aaron is a visual artist with a B.A.,Hons. in Studio Arts from the University of Guelph. He currently resides in Toronto, where he produces art and teaches fine art (and many other) programs with Explore It! to children of all ages at schools throughout the GTA. Aaron is a veteran member of the Explore It! team and is highly appreciated for his positive attitude and ability to teach most any program. He's also a valuable asset in mentoring new instructors as they join the Explore It! team.