Our Excellent Teaching Staff

The Guild offers 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, certified art instructors and passionate artists. Classes are taught with a focus on sequential development of skills with the aim of establishing the groundwork for aesthetic development and a life long appreciation of the arts.


Marion Angelica is a teacher and has a studio at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. Her work is represented in over twenty-five galleries nationally and she offers workshops throughout the US. Read more about Marion at marionangelica.com

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.  

Sophia Diehl graduated with a B.A. in Dance and Religion from St. Olaf College. Her training has encompassed Ballet, Modern, Composition, Improvisation and West African traditional forms. Sophia continues to perform and teach in Minneapolis and works in arts administration with Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater. In her teaching, Sophia encourages anatomically healthy movement and fosters creative expression. .

Kate Douglas has enjoyed a life and career that combined an intense passion for visual art, and the satisfying success and joy of teaching. It’s added up to 50+ years of making and teaching art to all ages, at all levels and in all media. She taught art in Northfield from 1977-1998 then moved to St. Paul to teach at St. Kates. In 2014, after retiring from St. Kates, she moved back to Northfield where she has been teaching art classes with FiftyNorth and finding time to create.

Rafael 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.

Rita Gomez is a dance enthusiast who began dancing at a young age while living in Costa Rica, where she was introduced to Salsa and Merengue. She has studied and performed belly dance, and recently developed a dance-focused fitness class. Rita loves to choreograph routines using a variety of dance styles including Salsa, Merengue, belly dance, Afro-pop, swing and more!

Rachel Haider is an accomplished theater arts director, instructor, performer, 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 Les Les Misérables School Edition, The Miracle Worker, A Christmas Carol, Robin Hood, Oliver!, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Night Watch, 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.

Amy Hallberg, Courageous Wordsmith, is a graduate of Carleton College and the Loft Literary Center’s Foreword Apprenticeship in Creative Nonfiction. She’s a Martha Beck Master Certified Life Coach who holds certificates in editing and translation from the University of Chicago. Amy’s true-life novel, German Awakening: Tales from an American Life, features Northfield, and she’s delighted to teach here. Her podcast is “Frau Amy’s World: Conversation with Real-Life Creatives.”

Melissa Henning began to fall in love with clay in the fall of 2013 when taking Intro to Ceramics and Intermediate Ceramics with Ron Gallas at St. Olaf. Melissa has assisted with clay camps at Northern Clay Center. She also teaches clay classes at the Paradise Center for the Arts.

Dan Hill, Ph.D., received his education at St. Olaf college, Oxford University, Brown University and Rutgers University. His media coverage and appearances include The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, ABC, NBC, CNN, Fox and MSNBC.

Rose-Marie James, experienced glass artist, since 1978 and owner of Dream in Glass Studio, of New Prague, Minnesota began with creating stained glass panels, sandblast etching, hand painting glass followed by fusing and kiln forming glass in the early 1990s. Her European background and having lived in Africa, her creations are enriched by elements of vibrant colors and light saturation. She pushed her interest into larger scale and more complicated sculptural fusing. Her glass art can be found in many private collections in Europe, Florida and mostly in the Twin Cities, Minnesota and local galleries. Lately, she has dedicated her time mostly to fusing glass. She currently resides in New Prague and can be reached through her website at www.dreaminglassstudio.com.

Pauline Jennings has been involved with theater for almost 40 years – as educator, director, stage manager, sound engineer and (primarily) an actress.  She also spent fifteen plus years as co-lead singer in a number of pop/country/rock bands that performed throughout the region. Pauline has been the featured vocalist on a handful of recordings.  Most recently, she played Lampito in Lysistrata and directed Castastrophe, both with Northfield Arts Guild.

Jake Nehrbass is a senior at St. Olaf College studying Dance and Exercise Science, and originally from Plymouth, Minnesota. Jake loves to teach and perform dance, with his favorite styles being modern, ballroom and especially tap. He has been tapping since he was three and has a great appreciation for rhythm, creativity and the sounds one makes when tapping.

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.

Bridget 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.

Kathleen 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.

Megan Proft has been involved at the Guild as an actress, dancer, choreographer and teacher since 2002, working with all ages and skill levels along the way. Recent Guild credits include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Rocky Horror Show and Danse Macabre. She went to school for arts management, English and psychology, and is passionate about using art as a way to learn and grow.

Marc Robinson has directed a number of shows at the Guild, including Dracula, The Importance of Being Earnest, Cabaret, Death of a Salesman and Scenes from the Odyssey. His day job is as a professor of Russian at St. Olaf College where his field of specialty is contemporary Russian theatrical performance.

Shari 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.

Kate 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 10 years of Madrigal Dinners at two universities, dancing at the WI Shakespeare Festival, and teaching at St. Olaf College. Currently she teaches at the Northfield Arts Guild and FiftyNorth.

Eve Wiley grew up in Colorado where she began training in dance. She gained experience performing with the Arvada Center Dance Theater and is now continuing her dance education through St. Olaf College. She is passionate about all dance but particularly ballet.

Mar Valdecantos is a native of Spain and Northfield resident since 1998. Mar is a writer, artist and translator. She has taught art and literacy classes for the PLUS students at the Northfield Public Schools and Spanish at St. Olaf and Carleton for more than 10 years before becoming the translator for the Northfield School District.

Molly Woods, a Northfield native, is a graduate of St. Olaf College with a major in social studies education. She moved to Japan a year after college to teach elementary and jr. high school English for 7 years. She returned to Northfield to start a family and is currently a stay at home mom/maple syrup producer and private business owner. She has enthusiastically attended Music Together classes with her two children for the past few years!

Jared Zeigler is a seasoned theater professional having held positions at Park Square Theatre, Theatre Novi Most and the Children’s Theatre Company. Regionally, he directed the musical Urinetown at the Sheldon Theater (Red Wing) and has served as an AEA Stage Manager for several area theaters including the Guthrie Theater, Theater Latte Da and Frank Theatre, among others.

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