Maria graduated from the University of Waterloo in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts Music. In 2010 she graduated from the University of Western with a Bachelor of Education. During her high school and university years she worked as a gymnastics coach at the Kitchener-Waterloo Gymnastics Club and the Stanley Park Community Centre. She has been the head coach at the SPCC since 2005 and worked at the KW Gymnastics Club for 10 years. She worked as a supply teacher for the Thames Valley DSB for one year before having two children. She has continued to coach gymnastics as a part time job while staying home with her son and daughter. Kids of all ages and abilities have learned from her. Maria is excited to start up a local program, share her passion for gymnastics, and get to know the community.
Karate: Kam Arefi
Sensei Kam Arefi holds a 7th Degree Black Belt. He has been selected to serve on the Karate Ontario Technical Committee. Sensei Arefi is an NCCP trained coach and a member of the Coaches Association of Ontario, the Coaching Association of Canada and is a member of Karate Ontario, National Karate Association and President of Mushin-Kai International. He was also given the distinctive honor of being selected to represent Shito-Ryu at the Pan-Hellenic Karate-Do Federation Demonstration (Shito-Ryu) because of his superior skills in his respective art. Sensei Arefi was selected for the Shito-Ryu national team in Greece in 1993.
Sensei Kam Arefi began teaching Shito-Ryu to students at Y.M.C.A Kitchener upon his arrival to Canada in 1993. He has been conducting a karate program here at the YMCA for 17 years. He introduced Shito-Ryu to Kitchener-Waterloo and the entire Golden Triangle area. While training at the YMCA, Sensei Arefi opened his first Sosai Kan Dojo School for Karate. He has been a volunteer teacher and program organizer at the Kitchener YMCA for over seventeen years. He also taught students at St. Joseph School in Cambridge. After a successful demonstration at Victoria Park, Kitchener, on Canada Day 1995, he was approached by many people interested in getting more information about martial arts and self-defense.
In 1996 Sensei Arefi opened a second Dojo at 222 King Street East in Kitchener. This enabled him to generate more public interest in his techniques and became very popular at many community Centres. He now instructs over 1200 students. Many of Sensei Arefi’s students have been awarded “First” and “Second” place in competitions across Canada. His efforts, faith and respect have been rewarded and his students’ success has been a source of great pride. Due to recent expansion of the organization and with the support of members, the decision was made to obtain a new logo. We look forward to the continued growth of Mushin-Kai in Canada and Internationally.
Dance: Jackie Titus
Jackie has worked at Let’s Dance Ltd. for the past year in the position of ballet teacher and choreographer. Before this she was employed at Studio Dance Pointe in St. Thomas for six years. During that time she prepared students for ballet exams and choreographed dances for recital and competition. Her dances have been well received at competition earning several special and overall awards. She became interested in becoming a ballet teacher and choreographer when she was in high school and spent many hours in a London studio assisting teaching in all levels of ballet. She has continued to further her dance education by attending workshops offered by the National Ballet School and the Royal Academy of Dance. In 1996 she became a certified ballet teacher after successfully passing the Royal Academy of Dance Teachers Exam.
In 1994 she graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology with a minor in dance. In 2010, Jackie graduated from Althouse College with a Bachelor of Education and is currently employed by the Thames Valley District School Board as an occasional teacher. She is married and has two girls who love to dance as well. She recently relocated to the New Hamburg area where she became part of the Let’s Dance Family. When not teaching (school or ballet) Jackie enjoys volunteering at elementary schools helping students with their reading and writing. As well she has helped many of the schools and teachers by choreographing dance routines for gym classes and the schools dance fests.
Dance: Megan Titus
Megan Titus has been dancing since she was three years old. She currently dances at Let’s Dance Ltd. in Kitchener Ontario where she competes in ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and hip hop. Megan attends Resurrection Catholic Secondary School and is on the dance team where she performs at pep rallies and the Christmas concert. Megan assists ballet and jazz classes at her studio and enjoys working with children. Megan has a younger sister and lives with her parents in New Hamburg. Megan enjoys volunteering at KidsAbility during the summer where she helps a child one-on-one complete different art activities such as, dance, drama, music, and crafts.
Dance/Cheerleading: Julia Piccinetti
Julia started dancing when she was three years old. She has been an active member of the ConfiDance ever since. In her time there she has studied Tap, Jazz, Acro, Ballet and Hip-Hop. She has also danced competitively and won many awards both on her own and with a team. She has acted as a class assistant for several years and is happy to be starting her career of teaching on her own. She is currently a full-time student at Resurrection Catholic School in Kitchener.
Dance/Cheerleading: Danyelle Peckham
Danyelle’s dance career began at the age of three. She has studied ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop and lyrical under Joanne Flanagan, in Kitchener. Danyelle has travelled North America competing and winning many awards. In her 9+ years of teaching, her choreography has won many titles and accolades. Danyelle has also worked with the Waterloo Junior Varsity Cheerleading Squad and alongside Mia Michaels from So You Think You Can Dance. Danyelle is a certified teacher with the Ontario Teacher’s Federation and is looking forward to bringing her passions of dance and teaching together for the kids of the New Hamburg Neighbourhood Association!
Sports/Fun & Games: Leanne Schmidt
Leanne graduated from the Journalism program at Conestoga College in 2008 and Photography program in 2009. After her twin daughters were born in 2011, she decided to pursue a diploma in Early Childhood Education as working with young children had always been a passion of hers. She completed placements at Creative Beginnings Child Care (Baden and Sir Adam Beck locations) and with the Plattsville and District Public School. She graduated with a diploma from Loyalist College in 2014 and is now a Registered Early Childhood Educator working part time with her local school Board. Leanne enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 young children and is excited to be joining the great team of instructors at the NHNA!
Music/Drama: Tara Simms
Tara spent 7 years singing competitively with the K-W Philharmonic Youth Choir, and studied vocal music privately with the Becket school during that time. She has also enjoyed many years of improv and theatre group training and performing. Tara is excited about this chance to return to her love of music and acting and being able to pass that love on to the youth of our community.