ARTS Instructors

Music Instructors

gElliot Borrero
Drum & Rythym Instructor & Percussion for youth with Special Needs

When not teaching at OCCTAC, Elliot “Toby” Borrero tours with the Gregg Rolie Band (Greg Rolie is the founder of two Rock & Roll Hall of Fame groups – Journey and Santana). He also finds time to direct his roots music ensemble, Guaribo. Born in the Bronx, NY, Toby is Puerto Rican who comes from a long family of musicians and has been studying music since he was a smallchild. He is a dynamic and versatile percussionist who has professionally played contemporary and folkloric Afro-Latin/Carribiean rhythms with many bands across the country. Toby also has years of experience as a social worker and therapist. Toby received his Bachelor’s Degree in 2001 from San Jose State University in Sociology with a minor in Music, and his Master’s Degree in Psychology in 2004 from San Francisco State University. Toby was co-director/founder of Grupo Folklorico Paulé (2001-2005) which was the first traditional Bomba group to perform in the prestigious Ethnic Dance Festival of San Francisco. Toby has been teaching at OCCTAC since 2012 and combines his love for music and helping others, leading drum therapy classes for youth with special needs as well as many  other percussion classes.



kJoe Cristina
Music Ensemble & Music Technology Instructor

A native of New York City, Joe moved to California and received his formal musical training as trombone performance major at California State University, Fullerton. For over 30 years he has been active as trombonist, keyboardist, composer and arranger. He has contributed compositions and arrangements for film, TV and live performance. His original works have been premiered by the Orange County Wind Symphony, University of Alabama, Vanguard University, Azusa Pacific University and University of Memphis among others. Joe’s projects range from arranging and orchestration for legendary bassist and film composer Stanley Clarke to providing orchestral arrangements for productions at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Joe is also certified instructor for the Berklee College of Music – City Music Network, and a qualified recording engineer and producer. Joe leads the ensemble class at OCCTAC and also teaches a related class in Music Technology at the center.



fCynthia Faisst
Suzuki Violin Instructor

Ms. Cynthia graduated from the Talent Education Suzuki Institute in Matsumoto promising Dr. Suzuki that she wanted to do much more than teach children in the private setting. What would the world be like if every child could grow up on music from birth?  That burning curiosity brought her all the way to Japan in ‘89.   Before leaving, she also saw a glimpse of Antoni Abreu’s work in Venezuela on a news report and was already filled with the desire to find others doing the same kind of work with at risk families.  In the summer of 2006 she started her first Pre-Twinkle Classes at OCCTAC. This innovative Suzuki program includes both underserved and special needs students. The SASS Ensemble is often called on to perform in Orange County as musical ambassadors representing OCCTAC.   ASS students have the opportunities to play all types of violin music from around the world including everything from Mariachi to Japanese Folk songs. As much as she enjoys working with her most advanced students she never loses her enthusiasm to start her next new student.



jMaria Faya
Piano & Music Theory Instructor

Maria V. Faya began her music studies at the age of eight and ended her training level with specialization in piano at the Conservatory “Amadeo Roldán” of Havana, Cuba. In the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana she completed a Higher Level study in Music with a specialization in Choral Conducting; subsequently, she completed two post graduate degrees in vocal technique. Since then she has been linked to the teaching in both of her specialties at the University from which she graduated. Simultaneously, in 1996, she became a member of the professional Exaudi choir, with which she participated in countless national and international tours, choral workshops, festivals, international competitions and recordings. She has taught piano and music theory in OCCTAC since January 2013.



iJenny Lee
Piano & Music Theory Instructor

Jenny started her musical training at a young age, learning how to play the piano, flute and woodwind instruments, and the organ. She found her interest and passion was with the piano and organ and continued playing them throughout high school and college. Jenny earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Organ Performance from Concordia University in Irvine. She was so talented and academically strong that she was awarded the International Student Scholarship and several Concordia Music Scholarships. Jenny is now attending California State University, Fullerton and will soon have her Master’s Degree in Music. One of the classes Jenny teaches at OCCTAC is Piano for Children with Special Needs. Ever since Jenny began teaching this class back in 2008, families are amazed at how she is able to not only help children become great piano players but also more confident and focused individuals.



eManuel Ortega
Guitar Instructor

In 1973, after years studying music at different music schools, Manuel formed the musical performing groups Los Desconocidos and La Clave Real, recording numerous albums with them. With La Clave Real, Manuel played on many albums of famous music groups all over Mexico and South America. In 1981, Manuel moved to Alaska where he received private Classical Guitar Training from Mr Shaun Lyons, a well renowned instructor and performer, while attending the University of Anchorage Alaska. In 1984 Manuel formed a professional twelve piece band named Ritmo`84 and The Bell-air Horns, with accomplished musicians from the Berkeley and Boston Conservatory of Music. Manuel was the lead singer and lead guitarist for the group and they played together for over 15 years until Manuel returned to California in 2000. Manuel started teaching guitar to youth and families at OCCTAC in 2002 and has seen many youth excel in guitar and in life, taking their dreams to new heights.



hJennifer Perez
Harp Instructor

Jennifer Perez started studying under the accomplished harpist and arranger Allegra Hardulfi, over ten years ago at OCCTAC. She advanced so quickly in her classes that by 2008, she was Allegra’s harp assistant and by 2011 Jennifer was teaching her own harp classes to youth at OCCTAC. On top of teaching at OCCTAC, Jennifer, a recent graduate of Santa Ana College is now pursuing her Master’s Degree. Jennifer also performs annually in the Encuentro Jaranero, the largest Son Jarocho festival in California. Jennifer has participated in many classes and workshops with internationally renowned Harp Maestros such as Alberto de la Rosa and Cesar Daniel Lopez. She connects very well with the youth, having been a previous student at OCCTAC, and her students perform in many local concerts and festivals around Santa Ana and Orange County.



Visual Arts Instructors


saidSaid Abdelsayed
Visual Arts Instructor

Said Abdelsayed came to Orange County at age 21 from his native Egypt to study medicine in 1975. After a car accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, Said found painting eased his frustration about his circumstances and provided him with an emotional release. This experience led him to pursue his love for painting and his education as an artist. Now, Said exhibits in galleries, conventions and hospitals across the country including: People with Disabilities Exhibition at the Veterans Hospital in Long Beach, Abilities Expos and National Rehabilitation Conferences all over America (1982-1992) , University of San Diego, University of California Los Angeles, and the Governors Committee in Monrovia. Said received his Bachelor of Science Degree from University of California, Irvine in 1981 and a Master of Arts Degree from California State University, Long Beach in 1984. Said would like to give youth an opportunity to break out of their shells, identify and develop their artistic skills, bring life to their current school work, and realize their full potential. Through painting, Said also likes to teach youth about the relevance of historical California sites to their own cultural history and time.



nKathryn Forrest
Instructor of Visual Arts and Painting & Drawing for Children with Special Needs

Kathryn Forrest, artist and teacher, was born to paint and be creative. Her Mexican-American roots go deep as a fourth generation California native. Both Kathryn’s mother Eleanore Forrest and Grandfather Joe Estrada were born here in Fullerton, CA. Kathryn has studied painting and drawing her entire life and loves to work in mixed media. One of her proudest accomplishments was graduating with honors and awards from CSULB with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development.  For over two decades she has inspired artists young and old in her career as teacher and mentor. “Working with adults and children of different abilities gives me an opportunity to reach and empower others…making an impact creatively to overcome obstacles is my passion.”




lJose Lozano
Visual Arts Instructor

Jose Lozano received his Master of Fine Arts from California State University, Fullerton. His drawings and paintings have been exhibited widely at venues that include the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, UCLA Armand Hammer Museum, Orange County Museum of Contemporary Art, Patricia Correia Gallery, Self Help Graphics, and Avenue 50 Studio. He has received many awards including a J. Paul Getty Mid-Career Grant in Painting and a California Arts Council Grant for Drawing and Painting.





lRichie Velazquez
Comic Book & Illustration Instructor

Richie originally came to OCCTAC as a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Student and became the first student to graduate high school from our center, earning awards for his dedication to education. While in the WIA program, Richie learned many skills, one of them being graphic and web design. While in the design class, his instructor Sean Chavez, noticed that Richie was one of the most naturally talented artists he’d seen in a long time. Sean asked Richie to help assist him in his other visual arts classes at OCCTAC. The response was amazing. The kids were drawn to not only Richie’s talent but also his style of teaching and ability to find potential in youth. Richie now teaches his own classes at OCCTAC on Saturdays: Comic Book Illustration and a general Illustration class for youth. Richie is earning his degree in Visual Communication and Studio Arts and is often commissioned to create art for companies and organizations. He uses his experience, talents, and ability to connect with youth to teach classes that enrich kids artistically and build self-esteem.


Dance Instructors


bRosa Garcia
Ballet, Folklorico, & Modern Dance Instructor

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­At UCI, Rosa earned her Masters in Fine Arts degree (MFA) in Dance with an emphasis in Choreography and at California State University, Long Beach received her Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Dance. At Santa Ana College, Mrs. Garcia teaches Ballet, World Dance & Cultures and Introduction to Dance Forms. Mrs. Garcia has performed at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Irvine Barclay Theater, Bowers Museum, and Museum of Latin American Art. She is a judge & consultant in the Open Category of the USA National Folklorico Dance Competitions enhancing fusion of Modern dance and Ballet with Mexican Folk dance. Her mission at OCCTAC is to provide high quality work to the students and parents in Classical Ballet and Modern Dance which will prepare students to audition for any high school of the arts and/or college/university dance programs.  Her dance training consist of Cecchetti, Balanchine, Russian Ballet; Graham, Horton, Limon Modern Dance Techniques and Laban/Bartenieff Fundamentals; Mexican Ballet/Baile Folklorico, Danza Azteca, Flamenco & Spanish Dance.



aMichelle Reyes
Beginning Dance Instructor

Michelle Reyes was born and raised in Santa Ana and has always had a passion for the different mediums of dance. She received her degree in Dance from Santa Ana College in 2012 and while in school she received her required intern hours by helping teach dance classes at OCCTAC. She loved the experience and the kids so much that she stayed on to teach her own classes at the center. Michelle  has also taught many different dance classes at Santa Ana Valley High School and in 2009, Michelle started her own dance program at El Centro Cultural de Mexico.  Michelle is very passionate about using dance as a medium to build a strong and healthy community, especially amongst children and youth in Santa Ana.




cElena de Romero
Instructor of Flamenco, Danza Estilizada, Ballet, & Creative Dance

For over 25 years, Elena de Romero has poured her heart and soul into sharing a passionfor Classical Spanish dance and Flamenco with audiences across the globe. After formal training in Spanish Classical Dance at the Royal Conservatory of Dance in Madrid, she undertook private lessons and workshops with world-class performers and instructors such as Azorin, Maribel Gallardo and Cristobal Reyes. She debuted professionally in 1988 performing in various Spanish theatres. Elena has had lead roles in “The Color of the Music,” “Picasso’s Life” and “Spanish Blood,” working her way across European centers of culture: Prague, Ibiza, Milan, Morocco and beyond. Her talent has graced television screens and theatrical stages; as Spanish media mogul Jose Luis Moreno was quick to notice her artistry – hiring her to appear in nationally broadcast hit shows. She was most recently seen in Southern California with “Battle of the Dance,” a production that also took her to Vegas’ famous Flamingo Hotel & Resort. Starting in 2012, Elena has been instrumental in OCCTAC´s dance program’s success. She is currently teaching Ballet, Flamenco, Danza Estilizada, Creative dance for kids with special needs and Fitness for adults.