Our Excellent Teaching Staff

The Arts Guild offers over 40 weekly classes in dance, music, theater, literary, and visual arts. Students, young and old, novice and experienced, are invited to explore their creative voices as they are guided by teachers who are working professionals and certified art instructors. Classes are taught with a focus on sequential development of skills, aligned with state standards, establishing the groundwork for aesthetic development and a life long appreciation of the arts.

Winter/Spring 2018 Instructors


Andrés Aragoneses is a Visiting Professor of Physics at Carleton College. He is an active defender of the Liberal Arts idea. In parallel with his teaching and research activities, he enjoys participating in and organizing many outreach activities around science, but also on the interplay between physics and arts. Visiting Salvador Dalí’s museum as a child, he found his work awesome. Living near Dalí’s hometown, he has studied the artist and found that the sciences are present in many of his artistic works.


Briana Blakey is a senior at St. Olaf College where she is working towards a B.A. in Dance and Biology. She loves exposing herself to a wide variety of dance styles but has special place in her heart for modern dance. She is passionate about creating a space to celebrate movement in community with others.


Matt Bowers’ art background began at age three, drawing with his dad, and continued through college art courses, continuing education art classes, and workshops. As an artist and freelance illustrator, Matt enjoys teaching people how to draw. He believes everyone can acquire drawing skills with sufficient practice.


Rafa EstrellaRafael Estrella is a graduate of Carleton College, a certified art educator, and currently teaching for the Northfield School District. When he is not teaching art, he is drawing, creating ceramics, coaching, playing soccer, or reading. Rafa is a longtime favorite instructor here at the Guild and helps with additional firings in the clay studio.


Rachel HaiderRachel Haider is an accomplished theater arts director, instructor, performer, and choreographer, directing shows with both adults and children of all ages. Her extensive resume includes work with professional, community and educational theaters. Some of her recent area productions include The Miracle Worker, A Christmas Carol, Robin Hood, Oliver!, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Night Watch, Alice@Wonderland, and White Christmas.  She has taught in public and private schools, as well as with several arts organizations. Additionally, Rachel serves as the Performing Arts Manager with the Northfield Arts Guild.


Rob Hardy headshot

Rob Hardy has taught part-time in the Classics Department at Carleton since 2006, and has translated or adapted two Greek tragedies for production by the Carleton Players. Rob is heavily involved in the Northfield community, often working for and with youth. He became Northfield’s first Poet Laureate in August 2016 thanks to the Northfield Public Library and Arts and Culture Commission.


Melissa Henning

Melissa Henning began to fall in love with clay in the fall of 2013 by taking Into to Ceramics and Intermediate Ceramics with Ron Gallas at St. Olaf. Melissa has assistant taught clay camps at Northern Clay Center, and is currently serving as a teacher’s assistant and studio worker in the St. Olaf  ceramic studio. Melissa also teaches clay classes to children and adults at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault. Through teaching she hopes to impact lives through the use of clay.


Riki Kölbl Nelson Riki Kölbl Nelson holds a B.A. degree in art (St. Olaf College) and an MFA degree (UMN, Minneapolis). Nelson has worked as an artist, giving private lessons, workshops and classes for decades. She has exhibited her art work in personal and group shows, here and abroad. “Making art and teaching art are vitally important to me. I think of myself as facilitator, helping new and experienced students to achieve their creative goals.


Sachiko “La Chayi,” a native of Osaka, Japan, is a Twin Cities-based Flamenco dancer, teacher, choreographer and organizer. Besides her work as an independent artist, her current projects include directing Twin Cities Flamenco Collective. She has received recognition, grants and commissions from many distinguished Minnesota organizations, councils and foundations.


Diane LeBlanc is a writer, teacher, and book artist. Her poetry chapbooks include This Space for Message (2017), Sudden Geography (2014), Dancer with Good Sow (2008), and Hope in Zone Four (1998). Diane lives in Northfield and teaches at St. Olaf College. Website:


Rebecca Lorang

Rebecca Lorang attended Beloit College for her undergraduate degree and while there she performed in, choreographed for, and directed multiple department and student produced concerts. After graduating in 2010, she began teaching dance and has since instructed at small studios in WI and MN, as well as preschools throughout the Twin Cities. Her training includes a wide variety of dance styles including ballet, jazz, tap, modern, hip hop, lyrical, creative movement and contemporary. Recently, she received her M.A. in Education from the University of Minnesota Rebecca is an EL teacher at NMS.


Jean Manrique is a former Spanish teacher turned full time fiber artist. She works with wet felting, natural dyes and eco printing, hand stitching, and creating and sewing garments and home goods. Jean has had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading artists and experts in these mediums and her work has been in various galleries and shops—including at the Guild.


Yazmin Moktan moved across the world from Kathmandu, Nepal to go to school at St. Olaf. She is a Studio Art major with a concentration in Education and is in the process of getting licensed to teach K-12 Visual Art. She’s spent this past semester teaching and observing full-time at Northfield High School and Bridgewater. She loves working with young students and loves art!


Grace&James MuthGrace and James Muth are sophomore twins at Northfield High School. They have been dancing since they were young, including four years of Hip Hop. Their goal as teachers is to introduce their students to the art and culture of Hip Hop through dancing. They hope to allow their students to have fun while exploring hip hop and expressing themselves.


Daphne McCoy is a professor of Dance at Carleton College and the owner of      Northfield Dance Academy. She has a BA in Musical Theatre, an MFA in Modern Dance and is a certified Alexander Technique teacher. Daphne has been teaching dance and movement for over 20 years to every demographic there is and is looking forward to this new class.


Bridget Novak Head ShotBridget Novak, an Iowa native, graduated from St. Olaf College with degrees in Studio Art and Sociology/Anthropology. As a Fifth Year Emerging Artist at St. Olaf, Bridget  explored community-based interactive art, including a roaming couch discussion series that took place around Northfield. She loves to create opportunities for people of all ages to connect with their inner artist. Bridget is also the Resident Teaching Artist and Education Coordinator at the Guild.


Allison Oberto holds a B.A. in Dance from University of MN–Twin Cities. She has taught at the School of Cinema and Performing Arts in New York, at the Guthrie and Benilde-St. Margaret in the Twin Cities, and several places in Northfield.


0Kathleen Pender grew up in Northfield, MN and received her B.A. in Dance from St. Olaf College. Kathleen teaches creative dance, ballet, tap, and modern classes at the Northfield Arts Guild and assists classes with Young Dance in Minneapolis. She is also Company Manager with performance company Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater and performs for Minneapolis-based choreographer Taja Will.  With deep passion for dance education and performance, Kathleen is grateful to be teaching for the Northfield Arts Guild’s dance program, which served as her dance foundation and fostered her development as an artist.


Anna Lisa Rustad majored in music at St. Olaf College and received her Masters in Teaching from St. Thomas University. Anna Lisa is a registered Music Together® instructor. She also teaches piano and plays fiddle with Scandium, a contemporary
Scandinavian folk band.


shari_headshotShari Setchell  is both a registered yoga teacher and certified Global Somatics Practitioner; she applies somatic and yogic principles training in her ballet instruction. A seven-time choreographer for Northfield High School’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival she also choreographs the fall musicals there. Furthermore, Shari teaches dance at Arcadia Charter School, and choreographs musicals with the Arts Guild and at the Paradise Center for the Arts. In all her work, Shari focuses on empowering her dancers by giving them tools to create their own style of performance. More than anything, she wants her students to know they are artists who can use dance and theater to express themselves in the world.


Susan Shirk headshotSusan Shirk specializes in promoting sword dance for both showcase and competition. She competed in sword dance at the first Mulimpia World Martial Arts Open Competition in PyeongChang South Korea in 2013, and in 2016 she was invited to perform a solo sword dance at the Panam Mulimpia in Las Vegas. She has performed demonstrations and sword dances around the Midwest, including at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, Anime Detour, CONvergence, Wizards Comicon, Anime Midwest, Anime Zing, Carleton College, and the Northfield Arts Guild. Susan embraced the friendships, personal growth, and confidence she developed through her studies and now loves to share this incredible community and engaging art with others.


Josiah Simon has been a juggler and amateur performer for over 20 years. Since just missing the circus on its way out of town, he has taught hundreds of people to juggle and worked to promote juggling as independent art form. More recently, Josiah has begun performing to his own music. In Northfield, he teaches German at Carleton College and still dreams of making it big in show business.


Kate StuartKate Stuart began teaching music at the age of 17, dance a few years later, and hasn’t stopped since.  After earning a B.Mus. and M.A., she pursued further graduate studies in music and dance while choreographing ten years of Madrigal Dinners at two universities, dancing at the Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival, and teaching at St. Olaf College. Recently she has been teaching at the Northfield Arts Guild and Northfield Senior Center, sharing folkdance at the annual SCSC Young Artist Conference, and offering music and dance classes for fellow homeschool families.


Mar ValdecantosMar Valdecantos is a native of Spain and Northfield resident since 1998, Mar is a writer, an artist and a translator. Her artwork is in display around Northfield and continues to create beautiful home and business portraits as well as portraits of Northfield buildings. She has taught art and literacy classes for the Summer and Winter Plus students at the Northfield Public Schools and Spanish at St Olaf and Carleton for over ten years before becoming the translator for the Northfield School District.


2017-18 Education programs sponsored by

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