One of the great strengths of the New Jersey Branch is its enthusiastic, knowledgeable, patient teachers. Below are brief bios, in alphabetical order.
Elizabeth Buonomo began dancing in 2005 in Tenafly (now Ho-Ho-Kus) and recently completed Part 1 of the teaching certificate with tutors Sue and Chris Ronald.
She looks forward to bringing her enthusiasm and passion for Scottish dancing to her teaching. Elizabeth particularly enjoys the sense of community and play that is such a strong part of Scottish dancing as well as the technical aspects of the forms and figures.
Elizabeth has been a teacher of the Alexander Technique for 22 years, which strongly influences her dancing, and also works as a psychotherapist.
Liz Burns is a regular teacher at the Tenafly (now Ho-Ho-Kus) class and fills in occasionally at Hightstown and Fanwood. She grew up in the upstate New York town of New Hartford, and started dancing in late 1970s in Connecticut with the Newtown group (New Haven Branch).
She got her preliminary teaching certificate in 1982 and her full certificate in 1984, both at the Teacher's Association of Canada (TAC) summer school, and has taught at the Tenafly class almost since the inception of the group.
Liz's 'other job' is as a Medical Technologist in a hospital blood bank. She and her husband Iain, (a piper frequently heard at branch events) live in Woodbridge, NJ, 'conveniently located to dancing in either north or south Jersey'.
Bob Houghton taught at the Tenafly class (now Ho-Ho-Kus) from 1970, shortly after it was formed, till 2015, when he retired to Vermont.
Bob grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Media, PA, and had his first Scottish Dance experience as the sword dancer in a 1958 high school production of 'Brigadoon'. He started Scottish Country Dancing while in college, first in Swarthmore, PA and then as a graduate student in Minneapolis, MN. He got his preliminary teaching certificate in 1970 in New York and his full certificate in 1973 at St. Andrews in Scotland. He often taught the Westchester class as well as the Tenafly class.
Bob retired from research as a physical oceanographer at Lamont of Columbia University in Palisades, NY. He also enjoys gardening, cycling, woodworking, and spending time with his grandson, Cian.
Deborah Leary was born in Manhattan, raised in Rockland County, NY, and moved to New Jersey when she married. Having done folk and square dancing in the past, she first encountered Scottish Country Dancing at the Tenafly (now Ho-Ho-Kus) class in 2005.
She started teaching at Scotia in New York City in 2011, and in addition to teaching in Tenafly has taught in Westchester and at the NY branch. She earned her Part 1 teaching certificate in 2015.
Deborah works in a local Public Library and loves to read; she also spins, is a Knitting Guild Association Master Knitter, and has a fabulous son.
Peter Price was born in Manhattan and raised in New Haven, CT. He apprenticed as an English Country Dance teacher under Fried deMetz Herman, and has also danced and called contra dancing. He started Scottish Country Dancing in New Haven 1976.
Peter taught in Connecticut at the New Haven branch and taught the Wilton, CT class for 10 years; he started teaching in NJ when he moved here in 2011. He got his RSCDS preliminary certificate in 1979, got sidetracked for a few years, and finished his Part 2 in 2015. You can read his blog about Scottish Country Dancing at the Kilts and Ghillies Blogspot.
Peter overhauled jet engines for a living until GE bought his company and moved the jobs to Brazil. Favorite non-dance activities are sailing, swimming, and pretty much anything else water-related.
Chris fell in love with folk dancing at a summer camp at the age of 8 and danced every summer until he graduated from college (in the UK). He discovered Scottish country dancing (SCD) as an adult and gained the RSCDS teaching certificate in 2002. Since then he has been teaching regularly in the New York area, and has occasionally taught classes elsewhere, including TAC Summer School, Pinewoods, and in the UK. With his wife, Sue, Chris trained a group of twelve teacher candidates in the New Jersey/New York area in 2014-15. In November 2015, Chris was elected to the RSCDS Membership Services Committee.
In his working life, Chris was employed by the United Nations, with whom he spent many years in less developed countries, including Afghanistan, Botswana, India and Madagascar. Chris still works for the UN as a consultant.
When not dancing or working, Chris likes to spend time with his three children and six grandchildren, which entails regular travel between the US and the UK.
Ken Saunders is from the Cotswolds area in England. He is married with two adult children plus spouses.
Ken retired early from a career in Europe and the USA spanning laundry detergent formulation, consumer packaged goods marketing, biotech marketing, and customer strategy consulting and is now a life guard and ski instructor.
He started dancing in San Francisco in 2010 and joined the NJ branch of the RSCDS in 2012. He began formal teacher training in 2014; in 2015 he received his Part 1 teaching certification from the RSCDS and also attended the RSCDS sponsored Basic Teaching Skills Course focused on introducing new dancers to SCD.
Keira Sokolowski hails from upstate New York and started Scottish Country Dancing in 2004 at Bard college, while she was a student at Vassar.
She took Part 1 of the RSCDS teaching certificate in 2013 at the DelVal Branch and passed Part 2 for full certification in May 2015 as part of the NJ Branch candidate class. Her teaching experience includes Manhattan and Fanwood, NJ.
Hobbies other than Scottish Country Dancing include vintage American Ballroom dancing, costuming, and board games. She makes her living as a small animal/exotic veterinarian in central NJ.
The teacher training program administered by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society in Edinburgh ensures that RSCDS certified teachers all over the world meet the same high standards and teach to the same curriculum.
The certificate is awarded in 2 parts: Part 1 includes a written exam on the history or the RSCDS, dance techniques and formations, and dance music; and an evaluation of dancing proficiency and teaching techniques. Part 2 concentrates on further improvement of teaching skills. (In the past these were called Preliminary and Full Certification.)
Information about the program is posted on the RSCDS website.