Meet our Instructors

Meet our Aquatics Instructors … click here

Sensei Dragon, Rick Downey & Sensei Tiger, Luke Paradise

Rick and Luke have been involved with Martial Arts for over 17 years and have been teaching students of all ages and abilities at the JCC for the last three years.

Rick started in the martial arts 20 years ago, receiving his 1st degree brown belt in Isshin Ryu  karate. He then went on to receive his 1st degree black belt (Shodan) in Shobukan Karate in November 2002 and his 2nd degree black belt (Nidan) in March 2005 as a student at the Western Mass. Martial Arts Academy,  Hamden, Ma. Rick lives in Springfield and is married to his wife Lynn and has 2 sons, Ryan and Christopher, both of whom are on the autism spectrum. He has been managing and teaching, along with his co-instructor and 1st degree black belt, Luke Paradis, the Adaptive Karate and Judo program at JCC for over 7 years. Throughout this tenure, there have been many special kids with different challenges, that have engaged in this program and have learned not only self-defense, but also, how to gain confidence in their abilities and learn discipline and respect for their peers and adults. Anti-bullying (in a passive and aggressive way) is a benchmark piece of this program. Rick is willing to talk to any parent/caregiver who has questions about this class.

Luke started in the martial arts about 18 years ago, studying Shobukan Karate and Judo/Jujitsu at the Western Mass. Martial Arts Academy, located in Hamden, Ma. He received his 1st degree black belt (Shodan) in both Karate and Judo, within November 2004. Luke has been teaching children’s Judo since 2002 and family Judo from 2006-2008. The Paradis family are very tight-knit and all work to make this program a success. Luke lives in Hamden and is married to his wife Gina along with their 4 children: Remy, Tascia, Lizzy and Dennis. Gina and Luke have one special needs child.

Patty Kelly

Patty holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Health/Fitness from Westfield State, and a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Massachusetts. She has been teaching for 17 years, the past 15 years in Adaptive Physical Education for the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative. She also certifies all of the staff and some students in CPR/First Aid through the American Red Cross. Patty is a certified lifeguard and provides some of her students with a swimming program throughout the school year.  Patty was certified in Group Exercise through AFAA in May. She currently teaches dance and group exercise at the Jewish Community Center. She loves to play golf, soccer, and run in her free time. She lives in East Longmeadow with her two children.


Dirk Litzner

Dirk has enjoyed teaching music at all levels and age groups for more than 15 years. He currently teaches guitar, music theory, and composition at Mitchell College in New Haven, CT, Berkshire Hills Music Academy in South Hadley, MA, and at the Music Academy of Greenfield in Greenfield, MA. Dirk is also Founder and Creative Director of Center Street Sound, a music recording and production company based in Easthampton, Massachusetts. Dirk studied Classical Guitar Performance  at Mannes College of Music in New York City, and Music Pedagogy at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold in Germany, as well as Music Production at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Michael “Rusty” Williams

Rusty is a board certified Music Therapist, who has more than ten years clinical experience. He uses music to support his students’ ability to make meaningful connections to each others. Kids and adults all love Rusty!

JR Golen

JR is a teacher at Williams Middle School in Longmeadow.  JR has been working all over the JCC for a number of years.  He works at the JCC Summer Camp as the Outdoor Adventure Specialist, you also could find him on Monday nights belaying for our indoor rock wall.  JR teaches Guys Fitness for Kehillah. He enjoys hiking, and being outside and active!

Rachel Johnson

Hello! My name is Rachel. I am from Connecticut. I love to spend time with my family and watching football. I am a Volunteer firefighter in my town. I love to make a difference in anyone’s swimming experience.

Rafi Rubenstein

My name is Rafi Rubenstein and I was born in Chile. I swim on a competitive swim team and for my high school swim team. I also help coach the Special Olympics team for Springfield.

Alicia Daoust

I’m 25 years old. I am originally from a small town in Central Massachusetts. I was on a swim team in my home town for five years. I also coached Special Olympics.  I enjoy outdoor sports, swimming, snowboarding, and spending time with my Great Dane.

Sarah Woodward

I’m from Orange, MA. I am a physical education and health teacher at Mahar Regional School. I am getting my PhD in physical education teaching and administration at Springfield College. I like to do yoga, play volleyball, meditate, and volunteer.