meet our amazing staff!









Heather Gifford: Program Director and Teacher

Tuesdays: Music

Thursdays: Dance/Yoga

Heather graduated from James Madison University, earning a Bachelor Degree in Music Industry, with a concentration in musical theater vocal performance.  After graduation, she worked professionally as a singer and dancer for 10+ years before moving back to her hometown of Alexandria, VA. She spent 2 years managing special events at the Gaylord National Resort before discovering Metropolitan School of the Arts. She has enjoyed all of her roles at MSA; Director of MetroClub after school program, Academy and Studio Teacher – private voice, choir, and music theory , Music Directing choral pieces for Production, and coordinating and teaching summer camps.   She lives with her husband of 7 years and their 2 ½ year old son. Heather is passionate about making MetroClub a fun, friendly, and safe place for students to call home after school, where they can find joy and personal expression through the arts.










Kirsten Grorud: Program Teacher

Mondays: Arts & Crafts

Wednesdays: Theater

Kirsten Grorud is a professional theatre artist in the DMV area. She was raised in rural Minnesota and fell in love with the performing arts at a young age. She is the founder of a Minnesota-based youth enrichment program called Club 218, and was honored by the Chamber of Commerce as Young Leader of the Year for her work there.  Kirsten studied Theatre at Wheaton College in Chicago, IL and learned to teach at the Tony award-winning Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN, where she apprenticed and later worked in their Theatre Arts Training school. Regionally, she has worked with Imagination Stage, Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts, and Local Motion Studio. Kirsten loves bringing improv and movement-based theatre to the Metroclub students, helping them to develop their unique creative potential as storytellers. Her talent is inspiring theater play out of even the most timid and hesitant of students.











Lori Cardillo: Program Teacher

Fun Fridays! Visual Arts, Group Games, Creative Storytelling

Lori Ann Cardillo received a BA in PE with an Emphasis in Athletic Training from the University of Denver. She taught Math and worked in the Athletic Dept. of her High School in Aurora, CO for a year before following her husband to the East Coast. After settling in Alexandria, VA, Lori taught high school, middle and elementary PE and retired after 15 years as a Pre Kindergarten teacher.

Having been a part of MSA as a parent volunteer since 2004, Lori brings her skills in the Visual Arts from the many years of teaching art projects as well as being a member of MSA’s Production Prop team and Stage Crew. Her daughter, Cameron, is a member of the teaching staff and Production Team. Lori enjoys showing students how to connect visual arts to theater and storytelling, and is brimming with creative activities and ideas.