Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘I’ve always liked being creative and doing things with my hands … That led me to looking at my environment to figure out ways to improve it.’

Massapequa

“I’ve always liked being creative and doing things with my hands. I’m an active person; I can never be still. That led me to looking at my environment to figure out ways to improve it.

“If there’s something I need, I’ll try to make it. The satisfaction I get in making things is magnified whenever I share it with somebody else; when they feel like they can make something, it is even better.

“In college, I interned at a place that made Halloween masks and props. I never got to see how people reacted to what I made. With theater, you have to communicate with people, and you get the satisfaction of immediate feedback.

“I went to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where I studied industrial design, specializing in special effects like animatronics and makeup. Afterwards, I knew I wanted to do something in education. I got a job as a monitor in Roslyn and started building sets for their shows.

“My first set had a terrible design, but I saw that it was something I could improve. I’ve always liked seeing art with which you can interact and experience it. Sets are the magnification of experiencing art— people are using and climbing on them!

I teach students to work with intention. I don’t like to fail, but I’m also not afraid of it.

“I started working at Long Island High School for the Arts, where I teach production and managerial arts, which is all of the creative, hands-on things that happen in theater and film.

“For a bit of time, I was also a scenic carpenter for a company that made holiday windows. In a scene in ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ it’s the ’50s, and actors walk by holiday windows that I helped make! I’ve learned that doing different things opens you up to people.

“If you have the right attitude, other people want to work with you. I still build sets for high schools because I enjoy that there’s someone that puts a lot of commitment into making them, and it’s not haphazard. I give a lot of attention to design and make the performers’ experience special.

“It’s cathartic to make things. I appreciate seeing projects start from a pile of lumber and then made into usable pieces. Sometimes people take things for granted. I teach students to work with intention. I don’t like to fail, but I’m also not afraid of it. You learn more from failing and understanding why you failed.”