Our People

Founding Director

Stacy Steyaert

Stacy Steyaert (she/her) specializes in arts experiences for ages 0-10, and firmly believes that play is the heart and driving force of all learning for the young. She has received local, national, and international recognition for her work and arts advocacy, including a Presidential Citation from American Alliance for Theatre and Education and honors as a Steering Committee member of the inaugural American Theatre for the Very Young Digital Festival. Stacy has also mentored drama instructors and aspiring educators across the world, most notably working with educators from America, Austria, Canada, China, Korea, Nigeria, India, Italy, Spain, and Turkey. Prior to founding Soaring Starts, Stacy worked as the Early Childhood Program Coordinator at Imagination Stage, overseeing 20+ classes a semester, mentoring hundreds of artists and school educators, and teaching thousands of students in the DC area. Her work has also been seen at institutions such as Adventure Theatre MTC and Chicago Children's Theatre, spanning over a decade's worth of experience in teaching and program administration across the Denver, Chicago, Hartford, and DC Metro areas. She holds a M.Ed in Early Childhood Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University, and a BFA in Theatre Management from DePaul University.  Now also a proud Arlington mom, Stacy founded Soaring Starts Early Learning & Arts in early 2021.


Faculty & Staff

Emily Ray, Education Program Associate

Emily Ray (she/her) has been honing her skills as an educator for years, even as far back as when she herself was a performing arts student! Emily is a recent graduate from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in English Language and a minor in Creative Writing. With an extensive background in Early Childhood learning and development, Emily is passionate about early experiences and milestones, and feels passionately that every child deserves a chance to shine. A fierce believer in Soaring Starts' mission statement, Emily especially loves to lead dance and craft activities, feeling like these pursuits provide a unique outlet for creativity. She is so excited to get to work with all the amazing artists of the future! 

Stania Shaw, Education Program Specialist

Stania Shaw (she/her), a classically trained opera singer, accomplished stage director, and experienced educator, uses her passion for the arts in every classroom she enters.  Stania is very dedicated to creating the best possible experience for her students. She even goes so far as to test out new class curriculum at home with her 3 year old daughter to see what really ignites an imagination! She loves to see children work together to problem-solve, create, and have fun. Stania joined the Soaring Starts team this fall, and we are so happy to have her!

Kanea MacDonald, Manager of Marketing & Communications

Kanea MacDonald (she/they) has a background in directing, teaching, and arts administration, with a passion for supporting educational organizations and non-profits that focus on the wellbeing and development of youth and communities.  With a keen eye for how to reach families regardless of background or circumstance, Kanea works as a freelance marketing professional and stage director with organizations across the DC area and Texas, including Imagination Stage in Bethesda, MD and Citrus - a South Texas organization focused on community wellness within the Rio Grande Valley.  Their work has also been seen at Rorschach, Capital Fringe, Theatre Lab,  Adventure Theatre, Thirteen O'Clock Theatre, and UT - RGV. When not working, Kanea has a fun time trying to balance their loves of live theatre, reading, TV, and whatever hobby/skill they happen to want to focus their energy on for about two weeks. 🙂

Guest Teaching Artists



Kelsey Brown, Liv Dinter, Jenny Cho, Bradley Cohen, Leigh Lolos,
Hilda Lee Tijerina, Madeleine Barry, Kristina Tojsl



Founders Circle

Soaring Starts would like to thank the below individuals for going above and beyond for us as we strengthened and solidified our organization in our inaugural year. We are forever grateful for the support and guidance this compensated committee of educators, advocates, and business professionals provided for us, and we cannot wait to show you just how far we will soar next.

Anna South, Kelsey Brown, Toni Goldberg, & Wendy Bable