Building The Messy Artist concept and business from the ground up, Donna developed The Messy Artist philosophy, created The Messy Artist curriculum, and mentored and trained dozens of Messy Artist teachers.
She conceived of a place like The Messy Artist in 1997 after having searched for toddler classes that would introduce her then-two-year-old son to the joys of creative art play. She didn’t find such a class. Undeterred, she started her own, combining her passion for art, love of children, and desire for a process-oriented art class for her son. The first classes were held in a church. From there she moved on to dedicated quarters in South Orange – first on Scotland Road, then Valley Street — before creating the current 2,500-square-foot facility in East Hanover.
Now in its 20th year, The Messy Artist has instilled a love of art and the art process in thousands of children ages 18 months to 18 years.
An early childhood educator and child development specialist with more than 30 years of teaching experience, Donna, began her career as a preschool special education teacher, working with autistic and language-impaired children at the Therapeutic Nursery at Albert Einstein Medical Center in The Bronx. While there, she also conducted research through a NIH grant on language and play behavior in children on the autism spectrum. Donna’s experience includes work as a classroom teacher and as a home-based early-intervention specialist for families and autistic children. Donna is also a potter with a fully outfitted home pottery studio.
Donna received an M.A. in education from Columbia University Teachers College and a B.A. in education from the University of Hartford. She is certified to teach early childhood, elementary, and special education.