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Meet The judges
Judge / Co-President
Stephen Honicki is a photographic and multi-media artist and media arts educator for over 25 years. He earned a BFA at the State University of New York at Albany and received his MS in Art Education at the College of Saint Rose. He retired from Niskayuna Central Schools in June of 2021.
He was instrumental in the growth of the film and photography program at Niskayuna High School. His work in those areas enabled him to teach, nurture, and mentor students to pursue studies in the media arts at prestigious colleges and universities. Honicki also created “SHORT CUTS” – an annual in-house film festival showcasing outstanding student films at the historic Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, NY. He was also a teaching artist at Proctors’ Summer School of the Performing Arts; bringing his knowledge and expertise to create Media Arts programming to their workshop offerings for teenagers across the Capital Region and beyond.
While teaching at Niskayuna High School, he received a fellowship from the Rochester Institute of Technology College of Photographic Science and a grant from the International Center of Photography (New York). He was also the recipient of Capital Region Community Art$ Grants that helped fund several intergenerational media arts programs with students from the high school and Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital. Honicki was also the recipient of the prestigious Murray Award for Excellence in Education, and was nominated for the Schenectady County YMCA Educator of the Year.
As a photographer, his intent is for viewers to see his images as a series of dramatic vignettes unfolding before their eyes. Through these photographs, the viewer is able to get a glimpse into various “scenes” of his life - sometimes semi-autobiographical - sometimes "dislocated" stories from individuals in his life in the past and present.
Judge / Co-President
Robyn Talbot earned her BS and MS degrees in Art Education from SUNY New Paltz, but her passion for photography was ignited by an amazing photography teacher during her senior year of high school. Robyn began teaching in Wappingers CSD in 1999 under the wing of veteran Media Arts guru Margaret Mealia. Since then, she has become the teacher-in-charge of Fine & Performing Arts at John Jay HS, earned a fellowship at RIT, won 2018 Region 7 NYSATA HS Art Teacher of the Year, and was nominated for NYS Art Teacher of the Year in 2021. Robyn has worked on both district and statewide Media Arts curricula, taught Media Arts summer camps for MS & HS students in Wappingers and for The Art Effect, but her proudest moments are with her students who have earned hundreds of regional awards and 20 National Scholastic Gold & Silver medals. Over the years she has advised the Media Arts Club, Yearbook, and is currently the advisor for the Art & Literary Magazine, Elysium.
Robyn is a participating teacher, judge, and statewide co-president of NYSMATA.
Judge / President Emeritus
Margaret Mealia is an art educator specializing in Photography and the Media Arts. Having received her teaching credentials through SUNY, New Paltz, she has taught elementary and middle school art as well as high school photography, video, broadcast, and media classes.
As a graduate student, she studied Photography with Marcia Goldner, attended RIT’s Photo/Imaging Technology Workshop led by Andrew Davidhazy and his team, the Hallmark Institute of Photography Seminars of Rick Sammon, and Greg Heisler, and took many Apple and Adobe sponsored media courses.
As an educator, she worked on the NYS Elementary Art Standards (ca.1990s), contributed to NYSATA’s supplement for the NYS Art Standards (Media Arts, ca.1996), and served on the initial advisory committee for the current NYS Media Arts Standards. She has written local curriculum and standards, served several years as Teacher-in-charge for the WCSD, and retired after forty years of teaching.
Margaret has been a member of NYSMATA since 1989, edited the newsletter, and recently retired as NYSMATA’s Co-President.
Judge / President Emeritus
Mr. Witsch is a veteran teacher of video production and media arts. He currently serves as Secretary of the LMC Media Board of Directors and is an active producer and interviewer.
Between 1972-2002 he developed the video program & directed the Television Center at Mamaroneck High School. He also taught at New York University, Mercy College, Columbia University Teachers College, and Iona College. He just concluded a long term as co-President of the New York State Media Arts Teachers Association and has served on several boards of educational non-profits as well as local municipal and community organizations.
Mr. Witsch has authored articles for “Media & Methods” magazine, and his accomplishments at Mamaroneck H.S. are subjects in two books: The Student Journalist by Carl R. Levine (Richards Rosen Press, NY, 1982) and The Children of Telstar by Kate Moody, Ed.D. (Center for Understanding Media and Vantage Press, NY, 1999).
Judge / Media Coordinator
Claudia Palermo is a veteran teacher of both the visual and media arts. She studied at Skidmore College where she received her BS in Art and Education and went on to pursue an MA in Art Education at Teachers College in 1988 and an Ed.M in Instructional Technology in 2000. She has been teaching at Westlake High School since 1988. There she has taught and developed curriculum for Studio Art, Ceramics, Photography, Media and Video, Broadcasting, Design Principles of Engineering, Graphic Design, Digital Design, and Digital Imaging. She was the Curriculum leader for the Arts Department grades 6-12 and worked not only with Visual Arts Department but also the Music Department on curricula. She has been an integral part of the growth of the art department, and STEAM program. She has students who have been recognized locally and nationally and has seen hundreds of students pursue the arts in college and professionally. Included in her successes are many students who are now currently working in the arts and in communications in News, Film, and Photography.
Judge / Media Coordinator
WESTLAKE HIGH SCHOOL
VISUAL & MEDIA ARTS
BFA Virginia Commonwealth University, VA
MFA CUNY Lehman University, NY
Lauren Morris is a visual and media arts teacher with a remarkable 16-year tenure. Holding a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and an MFA from CUNY Lehman College, her expertise lies in teaching photography. As an active member of the NY State Lower Hudson Region Media Arts Committee, Lauren is dedicated to promoting media arts education and enriching the artistic experiences of her students. Her energy and enthusiasm create an engaging and vibrant classroom environment where she fosters a deep love and understanding of photography.
Teaching both darkroom and digital photography, Lauren equips her students with the technical skills necessary to capture breathtaking images. However, her approach extends beyond the technical aspects. She encourages students to explore their creativity, infuse their work with personal expression, and develop their own unique artistic voices.
What truly sets Lauren apart is her genuine connection with her students. She takes immense joy in seeing her former students return to share stories of their successful careers in the arts. Lauren's passion for teaching, combined with her energetic and fun-loving nature, leaves a lasting impact on her students, inspiring them to pursue their artistic dreams and create meaningful connections through their visual storytelling.
John Jay High School
Visual and Media Arts Educator
Toni-Marie Catucci has been a Visual/Media Arts Educator at John Jay Senior High School in Hopewell Junction for the past 12 years. My specialty is in photography and digital art. I am also the advisor for the Patriot Yearbook.
Yoojin Lin is an art teacher at Ossining High School specializing in visual and media art with a focus on Studio Art, Photography, Graphic Design, Yearbook and Video Production. Ms. Lin has started a weekly news segment, OHS News (Ossining High School News), with her media production and graphic design class, providing students with hands-on experience in news production. With over two decades of experience in design and motion graphics in TV production, her expertise extends to branding and producing promos in Korean and Spanish. Her work in the industry has earned her numerous accolades, including awards from the New York Emmys, Promax, BDA (Broadcast Designer Association) and The New York Press Club Awards for Journalism. Ms. Lin is an alumna of Syracuse University, where she studied computer graphics and minored in Spanish, and she also holds a MAT degree in art education from the School of Visual Arts. Ms. Lin is passionate about helping her students discover their unique talents and reach their artistic goals..
Jane Wals has been an art teacher at Pelham Memorial High School. for the past 26 years and focuses on Graphic Design. She has traveled to 43 states and plans on visiting 3 more this summer.
Paul Thompson is the director of Forge Media at The Art Effect. He has actively worked in the film industry since graduating from The College of Saint Rose with a BA in broadcast media and film. Paul has produced web commercials, creative shorts, and short documentaries for businesses and organizations, including the BrainpopWestchester Library System, Target, & BrainPop. Paul also has experience as an employment specialist for Ability Beyond, where he was responsible for providing individuals with disabilities the necessary skills to obtain and maintain employment. Paul has used his degree, as well as his experience in human services and video production since 2015, to help create a growing, creative, and expressive environment through Spark Studios working closely with and mentoring youth in our community. In Paul’s spare time, he enjoys going to food and film festivals.
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