Meet Our Storytellers

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Paula Davidoff

Paula Davidoff

Paula Davidoff is a writer and storyteller who use myth, folklore and song to intertwine past with the present, magic with reality, and literature with life. A professional teller since 1994, she teaches workshops, residencies, and staff development training throughout New Jersey.


Since beginning her storytelling career, Paula has developed and taught storytelling and writing programs for teenagers at risk in traditional and nontraditional middle and high schools, and in youth detention and residential facilities. With playwright, Carolyn Hunt, Paula co-directs Girls Surviving, a long-running writing and performance program for teenage girls. Paula and Carolyn are the authors of Girls Surviving: Freeing Teen Voices Through Writing and Performance which was published in 2017.


Paula received her BA from St. John's College in Annapolis, MD, and her MA in Literacy Education from Rutgers University. She has studied storytelling with Susan Danoff, Laura Simms, and Diane Wolkstein. She is certified as a residency artist by the NJSCA, and is affiliated with storytelling Arts, Inc.

Julie Della Tore

Julie Della Tore

Julie Della Tore has been telling traditional and literary fairy tales to audiences of all ages since 1985. Her nine years of elementary school teaching and her study of child development and curriculum have made Julie finely attuned to stories that are age appropriate. Julie says, "My background in education helps me to choose stories that are appropriate to students' developmental levels. The myths and folktales which I tell are filled with ethical dilemmas which provide a catalyst for deep discussion and reflection. For this reason, I prefer classroom telling."


As a freelance storyteller in the Metropolitan area Julie performs at the Hans Christian Andersen Statue in Central Park, New York is Book Country, The Newark Museum, and in many schools, libraries, and festivals.Julie is currently storyteller-in-residence at a number of elementary schools in northern New Jersey including Central School in Glen Rock.Also an established teacher of storytelling, Julie has taught adults at Rutgers University, the Adult Community School of Glen Rock, the N.J. Library Association, and William Peterson University, among others.


For a number of years she has organized the annual New Jersey Storytelling Festival. Julie has B.S. in Special Education from Kent State University and an M.A. in Communicative Disorders from The Johns Hopkins University.

Gerald Fierst

Gerald Fierst

Gerald Fierst, storyteller, author, and literacy educator, has worked in film, television and theater, as well performing and recording in the US, Europe, and Asia as a storyteller. He is the recipient of two Parents Choice Awards for his recording of world folktales.


Fierst has been a featured teller and ghost storyteller at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN, a storyteller in Residence at the International Storytelling Center, and is online with a scholastic.com web page Meet the Storyteller.


He is the author of The Heart of Wedding, a book of wedding stories and ceremonies, Imagine The Moon, an illustrated book of poetry and STEAM related curricula, and Bye Bye Boig!, a preschool picture book about the food cycle. Gerald is the founder of the New Jersey Storytelling Guild and served as a Co-director of the MidAtlantic Storytellers' Gathering, and as a member of the board of The New York Storytelling Center. In 2008-11, he represented the United States through its embassy in Spain performing stories with Margaret Read McDonald as part of the embassy's culture programming.


Fierst has released four storytelling audiotapes Monstrous Mischief, Tikun Olam(both Parents Choice Silver Honorees), Jewish Tales of Magic and Mysticism and The American Spirit and a jazz/spoken word recording jazzin' Up The Holidays with Conrad Herwig and the Scarlet Knights Jazz Trombones of Rutgers University where he is a storyteller in residence at the Zimmerli Museum. ABC NEWS called him "A MASTER STORYTELLER"

Luray Gross

Luray Gross

Storyteller and Poet Luray Gross believes in the power of stories to build community and nurture the heart, mind, and spirit. She has worked with thousands of students and teachers during twenty-some years as a Teaching Artist. She brings multi-cultural folktales and poetry to the classroom and facilitates response and elaboration, particularly through writing. Her own love of the spoken and written word, the outdoors, and music began during her childhood on a busy dairy farm in Pennsylvania. She was awarded a Fellowship in Poetry by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and named one of their Distinguished Teaching Artists. She is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently The Perfection of Zeros, published by Word Tech.

Maria LoBiondo

Maria LoBiondo

Maria LoBiondo believes that a story is a gift from the heart to heart between teller and listener. A professional writer and editor, her love for fairy, folk and wisdom tales have been life long, although studies leading to her bachelor's degree in education from Boston College and years as a preschool teacher deepened her appreciation.


Maria's life experiences have included work in low-income communities with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Utica, N.Y., and Providence, R. I., and participation in artist Judy Chicago's needlework effort, The Birth Project.


She has told stories for the past 13 years at several venues, including Princeton's Littlebrook School, the Princeton Montessori School, the Catholic Community of St. Charles Borromeo in Montgomery Township, and the New Jersey Storytelling Festival. She is a member of the Princetone Storytelling Circle.

Jack McKeon

Jack McKeon

Jack McKeon came to storytelling through his 40 years of teaching English and Mythology in Africa, Israel, and the U.S. He views the story as having kept human communities together from their beginnings and storyteller as the keeper of lore, the imagination and the soul of the people. His telling explores the connection between myth and folktales, the power of transformation in fairytales, and the experiences common to humanity throughout the world.


Jack has been telling stories professionally, inside and outside his high school classroom, for 15 years. he is a regular teller at the Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park and has told at schools at all levels, libraries, and festivals throughout New Jersey, New York City and in Canada. Jack was a storyteller in residence at the Goryeb Children's Hospital in Morristown. he teaches courses in fairy tale analysis at Bergen Community College in New Jersey and at The Learning Collaborative at the Rockland County Campus of Long Island University. He has studied and worked with Laura Simms, Diane Wolkstein, and Julie DellaTore and is a member of the New Jersey Storytelling Guild.

Julie Pasqual

Julie Pasqual

Julie Pasqual is a self-proclaimed "creativity junky" whose first art form was dance. After graduating from New York City's High School of Performing Arts, she danced and sang in numerous musicals across the country and Off Broadway. She has acted in everything from Shakespeare to the work of young playwrights in NYC high schools. Along the way, she learned stilt walking. clowning, American Sign Language, and how to tell stories.


Her storytelling work encompasses all her skills as a performing artist, as she brings every aspect of a story to life. Her stories have been heard in such venues as the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the New Jersey Storytelling Festival, and in schools, libraries, bookstores, hospitals, radio, and private events across the try-state area. She has told stories internationally in Argentina, Thailand, China, Ireland, and Dubai.


She is also a teaching artist for ISTA (International School Theatre Association) where she works with middle school and high school students in international schools to create original theatre pieces. So far, this has taken her to Brussels, Jamaica, China, Taiwan, and the UK.


When not telling stories she works as a hospital clown - performing mostly at Harlem Hospital for Healthy Humor Inc. This work has also taken her to Haiti with Clowns Without Borders, where she performed in refugee camps and orphanages. Julie is also a 500 Hour Registered Yoga Instructor, and teaches in studios in NY and NJ, as well as at two domestic violence shelters in NYC.

Helen Wise

Helen Wise

Helen Wise tells personal and contemporary stories as well as traditional folk and fairy tales. Often programs include her stories of life growing up in a Southern family extended enough, organized enough and self-conscious enough to annually elect officers! Perhaps, this is why many of Helen’s stories are filled with laughter and invite listeners to actively participate in the telling. She has also worked as a teacher, costume designer, stage director with children and youth, and curriculum writer. Her own experience in a multicultural family and her ten plus years on the staff of an international heritage camp give her a personal sensitivity and breadth on multicultural and racial issues in literature and life. Helen believes narrative/stories are the way we all create meaning from the fragments of our knowledge and experience.


“I love being a storyteller. With the youngest children, not only do I get to tell stories, together we get to play with stories. My favorite work with older students is teaching them to tell stories. I treasure seeing the wonder on a student’s face and hearing the wonder in a student’s voice when s/he describes that first storytelling experience. Words are powerful and empowering. My job is to give language and voice to the voiceless.”


Helen has worked extensively in Trenton, Head Start and elementary schools, building preK-5 storytelling and story writing residency programs. Other residencies include Pennington, South Brunswick, West Windsor, Princeton, and Spotswood school districts; preschoolers at Princeton Nursery School and Home Front’s Cherry Tree Club; Princeton Friends School. Helen has told and/or led workshops for Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University, Zimmerli Art Museum, Grounds for Sculpture, Mid Atlantic Storytelling Conference, NJ Storytelling Festival. Helen earned her B.A. in English Literature and B.F.A. in Theatre from St. Andrews College, her Teaching Credential from Claremont Graduate School, and her M.A. in English Literature from Clark University. She was certified in NJ for K-8 and secondary English.


Performances: Stories of Wit and Wisdom, Tales of Tails, Listeners’ Choice; Workshops for Teachers: More than an Egg Carton Worm or “My favorite part was…”: What to Do After a Story, Participation Stories for All Ages: Involving Your Students in Your Telling or Reading,

How To Have a Storytelling Week in Your Class or School; Classroom Residencies: Show & Tell from Russia, Japan, Korea, Africa, China, Telling Our Personal Stories, Teaching Students to Tell, From Storytelling to Story Writing.