Who are the programmers this year?
Below you will find brief bios and statements from the professional staff and student organizers for this year to provide some understanding of who they are and how they got involved with the project. 

Regina Conti
Regina Conti received her Ph.D. in social psychology at Brandeis University, and is presently an associate professor of psychology at Colgate University. She teaches courses on human motivation, personality psychology and the psychology of work. Her research investigates motivational processes in school, work, and family contexts. She directs an outreach program in which students are engaged in strengthening social skills of children with autism spectrum disorders, and she supervises student research on related issues.

Sheila Clonan
Sheila Clonan received her Ph.D. in school psychology from Syracuse University, and is currently an assistant professor of Educational Studies at Colgate University. She teaches courses on special education, educational psychology, reading and research methods.   Her research interests include school-based interventions for children with learning and/or behavior challenges, positive behavioral supports and positive psychology.  Together with some Colgate students, Dr. Clonan previously directed a social skills program for children in Cazenovia.  She also brings years of group skill building experiences from her prior work as a school psychologist in the Syracuse City Schools.

Caitlyn Loucas
Caitlyn Loucas graduated from Colgate University with a Psychology major and Educational Studies minor.  She is from the great state of Texas. She worked with the Oz Project for the past two years as a volunteer and then through the class at Colgate. This year she will be helping the student programers run the project. She has always loved working with children and, for many past summers, has worked as a teacher in a Pre-Kindergarten Creative Arts class. Caitlyn rented the movie ‘Patch Adams’ when she was ten and was so impacted by its message of love, compassion, and humor that she has carried a clown nose around with her ever since as a constant reminder of the mark she wants to make in the world. In her free time, she enjoys playing the guitar, knitting, finding any excuse for an adventure, and showing everyone pictures of her Golden Retriever. Caitlyn is excited for what this year’s Oz Project has in store and can’t wait to share this experience with you!

Avery Albert

"I am a sophomore psychology major and education studies minor at Colgate, and I am really excited about being a part of The Oz Project this year! I actually read an article about the project in the summer before my freshman year, and knew immediately that it was something I wanted to be involved in when I came to school! I have been performing in musical theater productions since a young age, and absolutely love working with children! I have also become extremely interested in inclusion programs, so this project is really an amazing opportunity for me to combine all of my passions! I can't wait to get the show on the road!"

April Bailey
"Some of my most enjoyable experiences have been working with children. I was a camp counselor for grade school aged children, and I also worked  through Springbrook to provide care for a boy with Aspergers for about 5 years. Through that I developed a very close and relationship with him.  When I heard about the Oz Project, it sounded like a wonderful opportunity to work with children again, something I miss in college.  This project affords me the opportunity to devote the skills I already have to trying to positively impact these kids while growing myself as I interact with diverse and unique individuals.  As someone who loves both the arts and psychology I look forward to allowing these two passions to combine in the weeks ahead." 

Krissy Bodnar
"I am a sophomore at Colgate majoring in Psychology and I'm really excited to be a part of this year's Oz Project! My background includes lots of theater, both onstage and off, and music, especially playing the piano and singing. I currently work at Chenango Nursery School as a teaching assistant for a variety of age groups where I've learned a lot about working with children of many types of abilities. My hobbies include coloring, jigsaw puzzles, and helping others whenever I can. I hope that this experiences will help me to become a better facilitator of overcoming differences and that I will be able to help our stars shine on the stage!"

Sarah Button
"I have worked with children of varying abilities for the past 7 years, ranging from activities like teaching kids with Autism how to swim to participating in the Special Olympics. When I heard about the Oz Project, I jumped at the chance to be involved. Working with children of all kinds has always been a passion of mine and I find that I learn just as much from the children I work with as they do from the experience. I have participated in different classes and clubs organized by Colgate, such as the Kelberman Clubhouse for children with Autism and Autism PALS, and have always loved the time that I get to spend with the children. I am really looking forward to getting to know the new participants of the Oz Project and watch the fairy tale fun unfold on stage!"

Eliza Dawson 
"For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed working with kids, perhaps due to the fact that I've always enjoyed acting like a kid. I heard about the Oz Project through a friend who had previously participated in it and jumped at the chance to participate myself. For the past six years, I have done a lot of volunteer work with people of various ages and levels of ability. I have seen first hand the immeasurable benefits that people gain from just being included. I look forward to being able to help with this process through the Oz Project and getting to know all the wonderful things the kids have to offer!"

Laura Jafee
"When I first heard about the Oz Project, I was immediately excited by an opportunity to work with children in and around the Hamilton community. I've always had a passion for working with kids, and I am particularly interested in inclusion activities that enable kids of varying abilities to engage with one another in a fun and constructive manner. As a student at Colgate, I have few chances to interact with young children. Thus, I quickly seized the opportunity to organize something fun and different for children around the Hamilton community through the Oz Project."

Sarah Hirsch
"I am a senior at Colgate with a Psychology major and an Educational Studies minor.  I am interested in pursuing a career in special education and am really excited to be involved with the Oz Project!  My previous experience with kids includes working as a camp counselor, a reading tutor, and a teacher's aide, as well as shadowing a school psychologist.  I love working with kids and strongly believe in the Oz Project's mission of inclusion for all!"

Jinri Kim
"I am currently a junior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Art.  I love anything that challenges me to use my hands and my creativity.  My hobbies vary from drawing, painting, sewing, making ceramic art, to playing silly songs on my ukulele.  I have worked with children with autism through babysitting and through various art programs.  After graduation, I hope to use my talent and interest in art as an unique form of therapy for children with autism.  She is thrilled to be a part of the Oz Project, and she cannot wait to become friends with everyone through creative and fun drama games!"

Michelle Krelko
"I am a senior at Colgate and am about to graduate with a major in cellular neuroscience.  When I heard about the course, I was extremely interested in the subject matter.  I have worked with children who have special needs, including autism, and found the experience to be extremely rewarding.  I would also like to relate this course to my future career as I plan on focusing on interventions in particular communities to encourage positive relationships between students." 

Erin Nash
"I am a senior majoring in Psychology.  Two summers ago, I worked at a camp for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders through the Kelberman Center, located in Utica, NY.  Similarly, this past summer, I worked at a drama/theater camp, The Drama Play Connection, which was designed for kids with anxiety and related disorders in Boston, Massachusetts.  Because of these two experiences, I have become very interested in working with children who have developmental disorders, including ASD and social anxiety disorders.  I am very excited to work with the kids in the Oz Project, especially using drama games.  At Colgate, I am a Residential Advisor and a member of the Benton Scholars Program."

Sydney Pollock 

"When I first heard about the Oz Project I was very excited because I thought it would be the perfect way to combine all of my interests into one project. I have always had a passion for theater, especially the behind the scenes work like playwriting and directing. I also want to work with children in the future, so, when this opportunity was presented to me, I could not wait to get started. I really think that doing a program such as this will make a difference in the lives of many of the children--whether this is through making new friendships or growing as an individual--I personally really wanted to be a part of this new experience."

Darius Robinson

"Hello eveyone! My name is Darius and I am a Colgate senior studying Educational Studies and Writing & Rhetoric. I've wanted to work on the Oz Project since my junior year when I found out what a great program it is, so here I am now! I am also very interested in the education field and not for-profit sector. I am really excited about the Oz Project, its collaboration with the Palace Theater and working with such great kids!"

Abigail Sickinger
"Last year I had Professor Conti for Social Psychology and Personality.  She mentioned the Oz Project in class one day, and I decided to look into it further.  Once I read about the project and what I would be doing, I was immediately interested in getting involved.  I have a cousin with special needs, so I've experienced working with a child with an intellectual disab
ility before.  A few summers ago I was a camp counselor and ended up getting very attached to one girl with ADHD and other undiagnosed special needs.  I would babysit for her and her twin sister, who was typcially-functioning, and the following summer I became her one-on-one counselor.  Thanks to these two beautiful little girls, I know I am already comfortable with special needs children.  I am so happy to be given this opportunity and am beyond excited to be working with kids with a range of abilities!I wouldn't be surprised if I end up learning more from them than they do from me." 

Robin Sifre

"I've always loved working with children, and have years of experience volunteering with children with autism, and working at summer camps as a counselor and swim instructor.  When I heard about The Oz Project I was super-excited at the idea of continuing my work with children here, at Colgate.  Despite my inability to hold a tune, I cannot wait to work on "Character Matters" with the kids this year!!"