Meet Our Team

Cheryl Appleman
Founder & President
Program Director
Timothey Fitzgerald
Vice President
Director Of Curriculum
Leah Smith-Enciso
Administrative Manager
Director of Customer Relations

Cheryl, age 10
With her ballet teacher and mentor, Anita Newman.

Tim in college
Performing in a production of “Romeo and Juliet”.

Leah, age 14
In a high school production of “As You Like It”.

Cheryl Appleman
Founder and President
Ms. Appleman has been working in the summer camp and after school enrichment industry for over thirty years.  By the time she launched Performing Arts Workshops in 1998, Cheryl had already compiled a long and varied list of accomplishments: she was a ballet teacher, ran children’s theater programs at UCLA, owned and operated the after school enrichment company Kids In Motion, assisted the Los Angeles Unified School District in developing the first district-approved licensing procedures for enrichment companies working on LAUSD campuses, volunteered at the surgical recovery ward of Los Angeles Children’s Hospital.  She founded the Academy of Children’s Services – the first state-registered vocational school for enrichment teachers, which later evolved into the National Enrichment Teachers Association, which developed best practices training and certification standards for instructors throughout the country working in this field.
Performing Arts Workshops began modestly, with after school drama, dance and karate classes comprising the bulk of its services.  As a result of Cheryl’s vision and passion for expanding opportunities for children to experience the Arts, PAW has continued to grow and evolve to include summer camps, offering programs as varied as Musical Theater, Guitar, Dance, Photography, Filmmaking, Comedy, Magic, Stage FX Makeup, Vocal Recording, Language Arts and more.  Due to her constant innovation, PAW was named 2010’s Best Summer Camp, Best Children’s Live Theater and Best After School Program in the prestigious LA Parent Magazine.
PAW has served tens of thousands of children in communities all throughout the greater Los Angeles area, but for Cheryl, making a difference begins one child at a time.

“I always knew I wanted to work with kids.  I knew from a very young age.  When I was a teen and was apprenticing with my ballet teacher, Anita Newman, I could see when a kid’s eyes would light up because they ‘got it’, they had an ‘aha!’ moment, the light bulb turned on. And the lesson learned didn’t always have to do with just ballet. It was something bigger, more profound, a lesson they could carry with them for the rest of their lives, whatever their path may be. It made me feel good knowing that I had something to do with that. I never forgot it.”

Timothey Fitzgerald  
Vice President and Director of Curriculum
 Mr. Fitzgerald has been a teacher and educator for over 20 years. He has taught ESL classes in Korea, been an acting coach and martial arts instructor at dozens of public and private schools throughout Los Angeles, a guest artist in the Manhattan Beach Cultural Arts Department, and is currently a professor at Loyola Marymount University.
A lifelong student of theater, Timothey holds a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from UCLA, as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater from LMU. He joined Performing Arts Workshops in 1998 as an instructor, and has since expanded his duties to include being artistic director, adapting plays and musicals, creating new works, and developing curriculum for PAW’s summer camp and after school enrichment programs.

 “Teaching, teaching children especially, is an enormous responsibility. What you say and do, or the manner in which you go about it can profoundly affect how a child feels about learning and education in general.  I was very fortunate in that I had some wonderful teachers and mentors.  They set the stage for me.  When I’m teaching or developing curriculum, I’m standing on their shoulders. I’m thinking of the lessons they imparted to me, and how I might improve upon the design.”

Leah Smith-Enciso
Administrative Manager and Director of Customer Relations
Ms. Smith-Enciso is a Los Angeles native, born and raised. Leah has spent much of her career working with children. She studied early childhood development at El Camino College, and at California State University, Long Beach earning her degree in Early Childhood Education. After completing her studies, she worked as a behavior specialist and job coach for young adults with developmental disabilities for several years. She transitioned into teaching, becoming a preschool teacher and teaching Pre-K children for ten years in Manhattan Beach. Now that she is a mother, Leah has chosen to stay in the education field, but as an administrator.  Under her leadership in the PAW offices, Leah’s team oversees the PAW registration and admissions process, provides parent support, and orchestrates the camp to home connection and communications.  She holds fiduciary responsibility and trust, ensuring student record accuracy, schedules and student safety.  She is especially proud to do her part in making the arts accessible to the next generation of children.

“Some of my fondest memories from childhood was participating in theater programs. I never pursued a career in the arts, but I strongly feel my arts education gave me tools and skills which I’ve used into my adult life. It gave me the edge. Now that I’m a mom, it’s come full circle for me. When I see a child enjoying our camps or classes, it makes me feel good inside, because I was that kid. It was programs like this where I felt safe, made friends, developed life skills, where I felt a sense of belonging. With PAW, there are a lot of ‘moving parts’. It takes a lot of care to bring this program to life.  Like a backstage manager, I make sure everyone is in their places, have everything they need, and that the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.  I’m proud to be a part of creating a safe space for children in which to grow and learn, giving parents the reassurance of knowing their kids are in good hands, and having teachers who love what they do.  And it all happens under my supervision and care.”


Performing Arts Workshops is committed to ensuring that all school-aged children are provided the opportunity to experience a quality arts education through affordable after school enrichment and summer camp programming.  The development of character and life skills which children can apply to school and beyond is a core principle of our mission.
PAW’s faculty and staff are dedicated to fostering a safe, non-competitive environment,
where children can use the arts as a medium with which to learn communication,
compassion, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.