Teachers & Staff

Gail Tarantino
“Being an active participant in witnessing the creative spark that children emit is an experience that I treasure. Each child’s aesthetic choices are so particular to their own unique way of absorbing the world around them.” — Gail Tarantino

At the art center, teachers illuminate children’s creative exploration by encouraging dialogue and documenting it alongside the project. At the end of the program, students and parents can see the interests and imagination that inspired each piece.


Gail Tarantino, Lead Teacher

Gail Tarantino holds a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Boston and has been engaging children in the creative process at SFCAC since 1991. Gail is a visual artist whose work has been shown at Fouladi Projects, Sun Valley Center for the Arts, SFMOMA Artists Gallery, the Oakland International Airport, and Kala Art Institute. Her work is also included in a number of Bay Area private collections.

“My role as an art educator has deepened my appreciation of the varied learning strategies and relational aspects embedded in children’s thinking. Being an active participant in witnessing the creative spark that children emit is an experience that I treasure. After two decades of supporting children’s creative ideas, I continue to be smitten with their poignancy of language, the visual impact of children’s representations and the associations they make while looking at each others project work. Each child’s aesthetic choices are so particular to their own unique way of absorbing the world around them. Being an observer of the multiple possibilities for invention that children utilize is an endlessly enriching time spent in the SFCAC studio. Listening to what sparks a child’s curiosity has a co-constructive component; taking cues from their ideas and developing projects that inspire the unique viewpoints of each art maker.”

Thanks to the generosity of an art center supporter, Gail traveled to Italy to attend Reggio Emilia study tours in 2001 and 2003. Additionally, thanks to the support of the SFCAC Board and SFCAC parents, Gail was able to participate in Summer Conferences hosted by the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance in Calgary, Alberta Canada in 2006, and the 2016 Summer Conference in Toronto, Ontario.

Erik Parra, Lead Teacher

Erik studied painting at the University of Texas at Austin and received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and began teaching at the Art Center almost ten years ago. He has exhibited in numerous places, including New York, Chicago, and Brazil. He has also lectured, garnered residencies and awards.

Amy Balsbaugh, Programs & Operations Manager

Amy Balsbaugh has devoted the past decade of her professional and personal life to enhancing the lives of children through creative self-expression. Prior to joining SFCAC, Amy served as Arts Coordinator at Rooftop School, an SFUSD K-8 School with a long history of integrating inquiry-based arts learning into the academic curriculum. She also worked extensively with StageWrite (a theatre-in-education organization working in SFUSD schools) and developed visual arts curriculum for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Galileo Learning. Amy is trained in integrating arts and innovation into formal and informal education settings using methodologies from Harvard University’s Project Zero and Stanford University’s d.school. Amy is delighted to be part of the SFCAC team, supporting Reggio Emilia inspired programming that nurtures the innate curiosity and creativity of all children. sfcac@childrensartcenter.org


For more on our teachers or program, visit our arts program page or phone us at (415) 771-0292.