Early Childhood Education Faculty


Early Childhood Education Staff

Lori Valente (she/her)

Lori is the Early Childhood Education Coordinator at VMFA, provoking 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 into the program. 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 is an Educator with the Early Childhood Department. She has taught and contributed art
works for various schools and outreach programs throughout Richmond as well as assistant teaching in a Montessori 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.

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)

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 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.

Jaffray Witherow (she/her)

Jaffray is a mom, artist, and licensed art educator who has created art with children in
Richmond, Spain, China, and Thailand. She is passionate about art history and keen to facilitate children’s journeys into the world of art through inquiry and exposure to well curated materials. Jaffray holds a BFA in Art Education and a BFA in Craft and Material Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University

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.