Contact Us

The new Paramount School of the Arts will open June 1, 2019. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to school staff with questions and feedback.

Address: 20 S Stolp Ave, Aurora IL 60506
Phone: 630-896-6810
Email: school@paramountarts.com

Employment Opportunities

CONTACT US

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School Staff

School Administration Staff

Shannon Cameron

Director of Education & Community Engagement

Shannon is a passionate arts educator who has enjoyed working with students of all ages throughout her career. She is thrilled to be a part of the Paramount family and working with her remarkable team to start the new Paramount School of the Arts. Originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, Shannon moved to St. Louis to study Musical Theater at Webster Conservatory and completed her undergraduate degree in Theater Education at Emerson College in Boston. She went on to teach, direct and manage non-profits all over the country, including Belvoir Terrace in Lenox, MA; Madison Youth Choirs, Madison, WI; Doane College, Crete, NE; and Boston Arts Academy, Boston, MA, Central Community College in Hastings, NE, and several high schools in Nebraska. Read more

Matthew Silar

Education & Community Engagement Manager

Matthew Silar joined the team at Paramount in July of 2018. He has spent a decade watching arts education change the lives of students from all over the country including Chicagoland, Denver and Dallas. He’s worked as an educator, private audition coach and educational theater director, as well as a professional actor, director and stage manager. Matthew proudly holds a BFA in Theater from ACU in Abilene, TX. He loves Twitter and chocolate chip cookies.

Jessica M. Duplessis

Education Manager

Jessica M. Duplessis holds a bachelors degree in Theatre, Dance, and Flim Education (TADF) from Keene State College. She is most known for her contemporary and lyrical choreography but prides herself in her ability to teach all styles to all levels. Her work can be seen across the Midwest and East Coast, as she travels teaching technique classes as well as choreographs for numerous studios and companies in those areas.  She owns her own dance company in Madison, WI called Raw Inspirations Dance Company (RIDC), a place where dancers 8 and up can train and nurture their love for dance. 

Jenny Showalter

Education Assistant Manager

Jenny Showalter is a dance educator and choreographer whose work has been performed in Sweden, France, and various locations nationwide.  She has served as a full time or adjunct faculty member at 8 universities and been a guest artist for over 15 college and high school programs. She is Artistic Co-Director of Treeline Dance Works, based in NYC, and continues to dance on a project basis with the Bill Evans Dance Company.  Her love for dance pairs with her love of fitness and wellness, specializing in training and injury prevention. Showalter holds an MFA in Dance from The College at Brockport and a BS in Exercise Science from Western Illinois University. She is a certified Pilates instructor, personal trainer and Registered Somatic Movement Therapist.

Andrea Pikscher

Education & Community Engagement Coordinator

Andrea Pikscher is thrilled to be a part of Paramount School of the Arts. She earned her BFA in Musical Theater from Millikin University and has worked as both a performer and theater educator in the Chicago area, as well as many other areas of the United States.

Andrea also has experience in the start up world, where she worked to create companies that specialized in making the arts accessible to all. She is thrilled to bring that expertise to Paramount Theatre and Paramount School of the Arts when working on creating community engagement events for both the theatre and school.

Chris Holling

Education Associate

Chris Holling, is beyond ecstatic to be joining the brand new Paramount School of the Arts! A native of Elgin, IL he has worked as an actor, director, arts educator/education director and professional photographer. He is a proud alumnus of Western Illinois University, where he earned his BA in Theatre Performance. He has worked with many educational institutions, theatre’s and theatrical incorporation’s spanning from Chicago to Missouri. He is extremely passionate about what he does and will continue to work towards enhancing the lives of future theatre artists!

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Teaching Artists

Teaching Artists

Caron Buinis

Teaching Artist

Caron Buinis obtained a BA in theater from Penn State University and master’s degree in performance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She moved back to NYC, where she performed in both theater and cabaret shows. Caron moved to Chicago to pursue her career further and has most recently appeared in the following theatrical productions: The Wizard of Oz, Cabaret, Oklahoma! and The Music Man at Aurora’s Paramount Theatre, She does private coaching for auditions and has taught an acting summer camp class at the Northwest Ballet Studio for the past 10 years. She also performs with Acts of Kindness Cabaret, a singing group that donates full cabaret performances for various Chicagoland fund raising entities and is an avid runner, having completed 25 marathons to date. Read more 

Matthew Carder

Teaching Artist

Matt Carder is a music teacher from Aurora, IL. He has experience playing in, teaching, and composing for many different ensembles. He is thrilled to join this wonderful teaching staff and is looking forward to the summer.

Kayla Easley

Teaching Artist

Kayla graduated in 2012 from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelors of Arts in Theater, Performance Studies and Dance. Ms. Easley has over 15 years of dance training in jazz, tap, ballet, musical theater, lyrical, hip hop and modern dance styles. She has performed with multiple dance companies and participated in various dance competitions throughout the Midwest, and loves to stay active in the dance world. In addition, Kayla has coached youth dance and gymnastics teams since 2012. She looks forward to helping dancer’s express their artistry through music and movement, and thoroughly enjoys having a positive impact in the community. Ms. Easley is thrilled to be a part of the Paramount School of the Arts.

Jess Godwin

Teaching Artist

Jess is a songwriter, actor, and founder of the Shameless Workshop, an international outreach program that helps give students tools to fight shame through songwriting. Since its inception in Chicago Public Schools in 2017, Shameless has reached 25,000 students. Her original music has been choreographed to multiple times on Dance Moms, and this year, she became the new Dollop of Daisy jingle singer. She has taught voice at Columbia College, Northwestern Cherubs, and she is a private voice teacher/songwriting teacher all over the city of Chicago. She makes trademark DIY music videos in her bedroom and just launched a custom wedding song business this year. www.godwinmuses.com

Jesse Gross

Teaching Artist

Mr. Gross began studying violin in the public schools at age eleven. He holds bachelor’s degrees in both violin performance and music education form Northern Arizona University. He also holds a Masters degree in instrumental conducting from the University of South Carolina. Mr. Gross served as Director of Orchestras for Skyline High School in Mesa Arizona from 2005-10. He has been an active player and performer throughout his life with over 20 different professional symphony orchestras throughout the country and was the violinist for a national tour of Fiddler on The Roof in 2012. Currently Mr. Gross is teaching and playing in the Chicagoland area, and has just accepted the position as Director of Orchestras for Naperville Central High School starting in the fall of 2019!

Julie Friend

Teaching Artist

Julie has a Bachelor of Music Education from Drake University and taught elementary general music in the public before becoming a Kindermusik teacher in 2002.  For 8 years prior to moving to the Aurora area, she taught hundreds of families through the Northwestern University program. Julie has found that Kindermusik is the perfect way to combine her love of music and her love of children.  She is excited to bring Kindermusik to the Fox Valley.She lives in Montgomery with her husband and three children.

Heather Hutchinson

Teaching Artist

Heather Hutchison is an accomplished Director, Actor,Vocal Director and Accompanist. She has directed for numerous Chicagoland, Connecticut and UK Theatre companies and is Co -Founder and Artistic Director for the acclaimed Little Mountain Community Theatre in Lemont, Illinois. Heather has headed up school theatre and music departments at School of Performing Arts & Artful Impact in Naperville, Elgin Academy, Elgin Illinois, TASIS England in UK, TASIS Switzerland in Lugano and St. Margaret’s McTernan, CT. She has written and directed many for kids and adults and looks forward to teaching at  Paramount School Of The Arts!

Kendra Jorstad

Teaching Artist

Kendra Jorstad is currently the artistic director and founder of jorsTAP Chicago, the only all female concert tap dance company in Chicago.  Originally from Newark, IL, Kendra graduated from Point Park University with a BA in Dance Performance and an emphasis in jazz dance. She moved to Chicago and began her career with the Joel Hall Dancers. During that time, she also performed with Rasa Dance Theatre and became an original member of Chicago Tap Theatre. Kendra was the rehearsal director and dancer for Chicago Tap Theatre for nine seasons. She choreographed many pieces for the company as well, receiving critical acclaim. She is sought after for her innovative approach to choreography and unique take on technique, incorporating a full body approach where the movement of the upper body sometimes contradicts the lower body-a challenge for many dancers. After taking many years of yoga to calm her mind and challenge her own body, Kendra became certified to teach kids yoga in Fall of 2018. She plans to leave her mark on the world by encouraging the future generation to tune into mindfulness and meditation. Read more

Kitty Karn

Teaching Artist

Kitty Karn recently moved to the area after 15 years as Professor of Musical Theatre Voice at Western Illinois University. Prior to that, she resided in Houston, Texas for 20 years, where she taught both professional and non-professional singers (from R&B to Opera!). Kitty combines classical and contemporary vocal technique infused with yogic movement, creating an open and uplifting learning environment. Roles include Chaperone in ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’, Marmee in ‘Little Women’, Florence Foster Jenkins in ‘Souvenir’ and Phoebe in ‘The Yeomen of the Guard’, for which she received the Best Supporting Actress award at the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in Buxton, England.

Tiffany Krause

Teaching Artist

Most recently, Tiffany was the Associate Choreographer for The Producers at the Paramount Theater. She is also a recognized independent choreographer of the Chicago area. Alongside her choreographic career, Tiffany enjoys to perform. Her regional credits include West Side Story (Paramount Theater), Wonderful Town (Goodman Theatre), On The Town (Marriott Theater). Tiffany was a dancer with Thodos Dance Company, where she performed in A Light in the Dark (Harris Theater.) She is honored to mentor the students of the Paramount School for the Arts!

Kali Libby

Kali is a Chicago based dancer who is so excited to join Paramount School of the Arts family! Kali has performed in over 30 productions in the Chicagoland area as well as several dance films. She studied at  Columbia College in Chicago, and Northern Illinois University where she majored in Dance Production and Performance. She has had extensive training in Ballet, Modern, Contemporary, Partnering, Ballroom, Hip-Hop, Jazz, and Musical Theater. Kali’s also had the privilege to choreograph several productions with Christian Youth Theater, and College of DuPage.  Her works included Beauty and the Beast, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Aside from choreographing, Kali has been involved in award-winning choreographic works with Szabo Productions, College Theater Productions Grease, the Musical (Marty, Dance Cap.) and Addams Family (Dance Cap.), and was company member in The Kate Jablonski Statement.

Devon Lloyd

Teaching Artist

Devon is a freelance dancer, choreographer, and teacher originally from Naperville, Illinois. She is a graduate from nationally accredited Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. Devon has performed works by Peter Chu, Eddie Ocampo, Rennie Harris, Joseph Hernandez, and international choreographer Ohad Naharin. Devon is currently dancing for Hot Crowd, a nonprofit dance company based in Chicago under the direction of founder and artistic director Emily Ashburn. Devon has performed around the U.S. including Washing D.C’s Kennedy Center. Between teaching her jazz fundamentals, trick turns and leap progressions, hard hitting contemporary movement, and owner of her own dance team consulting business Devon manages to travel weekends judging and teaching at competition. This summer will be her eighth year with Universal Dance Association and her third year as a USASF qualified Legality Official. Her choreography has taken home multiple choreograph and high placement awards. Devon is very excited to join the rich history of Paramount and share her love and joy for dance with Paramount School of the Arts!

Chelsea Milligan

Teaching Artist

Chelsea’s a proud Chicago native, originally residing from Tennessee where she achieved a Bachelor’s in Theatre from the University of Tennessee. She is also a proud Black Box Academy alum and Second City Conservatory graduate. She has performed with Northlight Theatre, Chimera Theatre Ensemble, No Stakes Theatre, and Radom Acts Chicago as well as numerous improv theatres around the city.  In addition to her theatre credits Chelsea is also a passionate dancer, choreographer, and yogi. She believes in the power of performance and loves witnessing the empowering qualities it has for young creative minds.

Matt Mitchell

Teaching Artist

Matt Mitchell is thrilled to join Paramount School of the Arts.  Matt appeared in the film When The Bough Breaks, and favorite stage credits include: American Idiot, Bat Boy, Citizen Drumpf, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Noises Off,and Around the World in 80 Days. Matt recently served as Head Theatre Director at Rockwall High School in Rockwall, Texas. Favorite directing credits include: The Who’s Tommy, The Addams Family, James and the Giant Peach,The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Sweeney Todd, Monty Python’s Spamalotand Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Matt relocated to Chicago in 2018 to pursue acting, directing, and teaching.

Ben Olson

Teaching Artist

Ben Olson has been a theater/music theater instructor, director, and camp counselor for over ten years!  He holds a degree from Judson University in Youth Ministry/Adolescent Studies and has experience counseling kids & teens for over fifteen years.  His favorite theater area is improv comedy! He has coached many competitive and just-for-fun improv troupes over the years and loves building stories and characters out of absolutely nothing.  He loves coming alongside kids as they explore their creativity, learn to work as a team, and discover skills they never knew they had.

Jessica Palkovic

Teaching Artist

Jessica is so excited to be teaching at The Paramount School! Jessi grew up in Peoria, IL, where her love for theatre and dance all began. Jessi studied dance with The Peoria Ballet and The Rock School for Dance Education. She also competed in the Youth American Grand Prix, an international ballet competition, in 2010 and 2011. Jessi received her collegiate musical theatre training at The Chicago College of Performing Arts and Western Illinois University. Paramount theatre credits: Cabaret(Texas, u/s Sally), The Wizard of Oz (Ensemble, u/s Dorothy) and The Producers (Ensemble). When Jessi isn’t singing and dancing, she enjoys hunting for donuts with her husband, Bobby, and cuddling with their cat, Leche. Jessi is represented by Gray Talent Group.

Jason Pikscher

Teaching Artist

Jason Pikscher is the Technical Director for Paramount Theatre’s Broadway Series. Jason’s fabrications have been seen across the country including work for Houston Grand Opera, The Kennedy Center, Florida Grand Opera, Ford’s Theatre and Michigan Opera Theatre.  Corporate displays: TLC, Animal Planet, Walgreens and Microsoft.

Kat Rybarski

Teaching Artist

Kat Rybarski has been performing stand up comedy since 2006 and has performed all over the Chicagoland area at nationally recognized venues such as Zanies, The Improv and The Laugh Factory, as well as more local establishments, including The Comedy Shrine, Westside Improv and Still Not Friday at Two Brothers Roundhouse. She also made her debut in 2019 with the renowned Comedians You Should Know showcase in Chicago. Kat has graduated from both the improv program and the comedy writing program at the Second City Training Center, as well as the improv training program at the Improv Olympic (iO) Training Center in Chicago. In 2011, Kat was named a top five finalist for “Best Local Comedian” through SuburbaNites Magazine. Currently she hosts and co-produces the monthly Laughs on Tap comedy showcase at Alter Brewing and is very excited for this new opportunity with the Paramount Theatre. Read more

Nancy Spence

Teaching Artist

Nancy began her training in Atlanta, Georgia and has danced with a wide variety of companies including Southern Ballet Theater, Florida Ballet, Ballet New York and Connecticut Ballet. She performed principal and soloist roles in Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppelia, Cinderella, and Romeo & Juliet. Career highlights include touring and dancing at Carnegie Hall with jazz legend Al Jarreau and performing at Lincoln Center with the New York City Opera. Nancy has also danced with the Fireside Theater and performed original Bob Fosse choreography. She appeared in the movie “Center Stage” and is a member of SAG and Actor’s Equity. Nancy has a passion for teaching, coaching and choreographing a wide variety of styles to all levels of dancers around the country.

Nancy Tabb

Teaching Artist

Nancy serves as the Staff Accompanist at East Aurora High School where she accompanies the main stage musical and serves as club sponsor of the Tri-M National Music Honor Society.  She is the accompanist for several events in the area, including the Fox Valley Music Festival, string and vocal recitals, IHSA music contests and has a piano studio from her home in Aurora. Previously, Nancy has served as music director at Word of Life Lutheran Church in Naperville.  She has played professionally at the Von Maur and Nordstrom stores and has accompanied the Elgin Masterwork Chorale as well as community and high school theater productions.  She has taught at Waubonsee Community College, Walther Lutheran High School, St. Francis High School and Grace Lutheran School. Nancy holds a BA in Music from Illinois Wesleyan and she received her Master’s Degree in Piano Performance from Northwestern University.

Whitney Willard

Teaching Artist

Whitney attended Western Illinois University where she studied Musical Theatre. There Whitney was able to study various styles of acting, singing and dance making her the dynamic performer and teacher she is today. Her favorite credits include: Jane Eyre in Jane Eyre, Gussie in Merrily We Roll Along and Jan in Grease.

Whitney has since been a Tour Actor/Director on two national tours with Missoula Children’s Theatre. She has worked with over 2,000 children all over the country (Arizona, Nevada, Illinois, California, Alabama, Texas, Colorado and Iowa) directing shows, conducting workshops and mentoring children in theater and dance.

 

 

Jessica M. Duplessis

Education Manager

Jessica M. Duplessis holds a bachelors degree in Theatre, Dance, and Flim Education (TADF) from Keene State College. She is most known for her contemporary and lyrical choreography but prides herself in her ability to teach all styles to all levels. Her work can be seen across the Midwest and East Coast, as she travels teaching technique classes as well as choreographs for numerous studios and companies in those areas.  She owns her own dance company in Madison, WI called Raw Inspirations Dance Company (RIDC), a place where dancers 8 and up can train and nurture their love for dance. 

Andrea Pikscher

Education & Community Engagement Coordinator

Andrea Pikscher is thrilled to be a part of Paramount School of the Arts. She earned her BFA in Musical Theater from Millikin University and has worked as both a performer and theater educator in the Chicago area, as well as many other areas of the United States.

Andrea also has experience in the start up world, where she worked to create companies that specialized in making the arts accessible to all. She is thrilled to bring that expertise to Paramount Theatre and Paramount School of the Arts when working on creating community engagement events for both the theatre and school.

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ACCA Board & City of Aurora

AURORA CIVIC CENTER AUTHORITY BOARD

Aurora Civic Center Authority is the owner and operator of Paramount School of the Arts.

Chairman
Jonathan Hylton

Vice Chairman
Gina Moga

Treasurer
John Savage

Secretary
Mike Baum

Members
Kevin Fitzpatrick, Hon. R. Peter Grometer, Cynthia Latimer, Christine Goerlich Weber

Legal Counsel
Bruce Goldsmith

CITY OF AURORA

Paramount programming is partially funded by the City of Aurora.

MAYOR
Richard C. Irvin

ALDERMEN
1st Ward Kristina “Tina” Bohman
2nd Ward Juany Garza
3rd Ward Ted Mesiacos
4th Ward Bill Donnell
5th Ward Carl Franco
6th Ward Michael B. Saville
7th Ward Scheketa Hart-Burns
8th Ward Richard B. “Rick” Mervine
9th Ward Edward Bugg
10th Ward Judd Lofchie
At Large Robert J. O’Connor

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