Early Childhood Education Faculty


Early Childhood Education Staff

Lori Valente Coffey (she/her)

Lori is the Early Childhood Education Coordinator at VMFA, stimulating learning experiences in children ages 3 months to five years old. Lori expanded the ECE programs to include infants and toddlers and implemented pedagogy from the Reggio Emilia teaching approach. She has extensive experience working with children of all ages in public schools and private settings. She holds a BA in Art Education and a BA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Alicia Strum (she/her)

Alicia teaches infants and preschoolers in the Wee-Kids weekend workshops. She has taught and contributed art works for various schools and outreach programs throughout Richmond as well as assistant teaching in a Montesorri infant and toddler classroom. She loves to watch and support the intuitive art children create through joyful exploration of the world and themselves. Alicia has a BS in Interdisciplinary Studio Art with a minor in Art History from Florida State University.

Liz S. (she/they)

Liz is an Early Childhood Educator, and teaches the toddler program, Tots of Art. As a teaching artist, they believe in the formative and vital role of art in the first three years of life. Liz has worked with students of all ages and abilities, including infants, toddlers, teens and elders in community arts outreach. Liz holds an American Montessori Society Infant + Toddler certification, and a BFA in Painting and Printmaking from VCU. Liz is very excited to apply their process based, experiential art and education backgrounds to the ECE Programs at VMFA.

Blair Marasco (she/her)

Blair is the Early Childhood Education Assistant at the VMFA, supporting all administrative aspects of the program. Blair comes to the museum with a background of working in both public and private school settings supporting a wide range of children from ages 3 to 18. She holds a BS in Special Education from Vanderbilt University.

Adjunct Faculty

Kate Nesmith (she/her)

Kate teaches Curiosity Camps. As a state certified art educator, Kate has 11 years of classroom and studio-based teaching experience in preschool through collegiate settings. Kate strives to cultivate a studio environment where exploration, playful experimentation, and creative expression come together. She holds an MA from James Madison University in Art Education, and graduated Cum Laude from James Madison University with a BFA in Ceramics and Art Education.

Maya Walters (she/her)

Maya teaches toddlers in the Wee-Kids weekend workshop. She has a variety of experience working with children of all ages. Previously, she has worked in Montessori and RPS classrooms, and continues to run outdoor experiential programs at Riverside Outfitters. Maya loves to blend academic disciplines to create unique learning experiences for children. She holds a B.A. in History from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Kerry Mills (she/her)

Kerry is an educator, art historian and maker who is particularly interested in the intersection of the process of making, expression, and story. Her passion is connecting the story of art with making it. Deeply connected to the Reggio philosophy of materials, exploration and inquiry, Kerry has taught children at Sabot at Stony Point, public and community event settings, VMFA, the Visual Arts Center, as well as other art settings for 25 years.

Theo Tweeddale (he/him)

Theo teaches in Early Childhood Education and Youth and Family Studios. He began his career in art education as an intern at VMFA. He is passionate about utilizing art education and the Reggio Emilia approach to support children’s development. He works to deepen their connection to and understanding of the world around them, as well as empowering children to become self-directed learners. He is currently pursuing a BFA in Art Education at VCU.

Call for Teaching Proposals

Educators with early childhood and art education experience are encouraged to send in teaching proposals! Individuals interested in proposing a workshop not currently offered at Early Childhood Education Programs are encouraged to email earlychildhood@vmfa.museum. Please include a descriptive cover letter, resume, workshop description, and, if available, a website address or blog. All proposals will be considered. Please familiarize yourself with our current offerings before you submit a proposal. Course offerings are set at least six months in advance of each semester.