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. She is the director of Telling Our stories, a story telling-based literacy program at Frelinghuysen Middle School in Morristown, and co-director, with Carolyn Hunt, of Girls Surviving, a troupe of teen actresses who tell their stories through writing and performance. In 2006, a program Paula designed and taught for Story-telling Arts at Mercer County Youth Detention Center received the Connie Strand Memorial Award for excellence for programming from the NJ Juvenile Justice Commission.


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. He is currently the Theater and Film Specialist for the WAE Center of Jewish services for Developmentally Disabled.


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 http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/storyteller/meet.htm


He is the author of The Heart of Wedding, a book of wedding stories and ceremonies. 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

Luray Gross works extensively in schools and the community presenting workshops and performances for all ages. She is a believer in the power of stories and poems as resources for nurturing heart, mind, and spirit. Under the auspices of Storytelling Arts, Inc., she brings multicultural folktales into the classroom and facilitates response and elaboration, particularly through writing. Her own love of the spoken and written word, of the outdoors, and of music were all nurtured by her experiences growing up on a busy dairy farm in Pennsylvania.


Luray is the author of three collections of poetry:Forenoon was published in 1990 by The Attic Press in Westfield, NJ, and Elegant Reprieve won the 1995-96 Still Waters Press Poetry Chapbook Competition. The Perfection of Zeros, was published by Word Press in 2004. She was the recipient of a fellowship in Poetry from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. In 2000, she was named a Distinguished Teaching Artist by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and was the recipient of the Robert Fraser Open Poetry Competition Award from Bucks County(PA) Community College. She was the 2002 Poet Laureate of Bucks County and resident Faculty at the 2006 Frost Place Festival and Conference on Poetry in Franconia, NH.

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. As an artist for Hospital Audiences Incorporated, Julie performs in halfway houses, drug rehabilitation centers and senior citizen homes.


She is also the voice for several children's and young adult audio books for the Andrew Heiskell Library for the Blind and Handicapped in NYC. When not telling tales she can be found performing as a dancer in shows across the country and as a clown doctor for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit, entertaining children in NYC Hospitals.

Jim Rohe

Jim Rohe

Jim Rohe In 1987, as the father of two young children, Jim discovered storytelling and his true calling to be a storyteller. Starting with “Gentle Rhythms,” an ongoing program of music and story for young children, Jim has become a seasoned performer who appears before audiences more than 250 times a year.


He has performed at Tellebrations starting in 1995 and has been a featured performer at the MAST Gathering in Pennsylvania. “Gentle Rhythms” is now in its 20th year and has operated in a number of schools including, Clendinning School of Nutley, Over the Rainbow in Montclair, the Children’s Day Nursery in Passaic, the Early Learning Center in Fairfield, Small Wonders in Passaic, the Garbrellian Childcare Center in Hackensack, and the East Orange Head Start. Through this program, Jim has entertained and educated thousands of youngsters in preschools all over NJ.


Most children will give you their undivided attention if you have something interesting to say and say it in an interesting way. This is the heart of storytelling and Jim’s work. Simple dramas, well told, never fail to captivate audiences. Jim draws on folk tales and literary sources for stories to excite the imagination. His vast repertoire for young listeners includes many participation stories. Jim performs folktales and sings folksongs in both English and Spanish.

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.