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.


Emmy Erickson is from Woodbury, Minnesota, and is a Vocal Music Education major at St. Olaf College. She believes that music is a language that everyone can speak and a way to connect with people in a way that not many other things can. Emmy has a passion for both music and education, while making sure that music programming and the passion for music continues to grow and ignite in people of all ages.

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. 

Julie Fakler creates vibrant original domestic animal paintings and pet portraits. She received individual artist grants from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council for projects that promote animals from the Prairie’s Edge Humane Society (2011), S.A.F.E. Sanctuary (2014), and Southeastern MN Farm Animal Portraits (2017). Fakler is the Visual Arts & Education Director at the Paradise Center for the Arts, and sits on the SEMAC Arts Advisory Panel. She holds a BFA in painting and drawing from   Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Recently Julie has received a 2021 Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

Randall Ferguson plays classical guitar, flamenco guitar, and Renaissance lute, as well as ukulele , mandolin, and classic five string banjo. He has a   repertoire that spans five centuries, from the stately court dances of Renaissance Europe, to the syncopated dance rhythms of Spanish flamenco. He is a retired music teacher from Farmington Public Schools, and is also teaching at FiftyNorth, Farmington Community Education, as well as other places in the community.

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 Matilda, Les Misérables School Edition, The Miracle Worker, A Christmas Carol, Oliver! and many more. She has taught in public and private schools, as well as with several arts organizations.

Amy Hallberg is the author of German Awakening: Tales from an American Life and host of Courageous Wordsmith podcast. As a story mentor and certified master coach, she helps people to heal through writing and tap into their great, big stories so that they can connect with the people who need to read them. Amy is a graduate of Carleton College and the Loft Literary Center’s Foreword Apprenticeship in Creative Nonfiction. She holds certificates from the University of Chicago in editing and German-to-English translation. A former high school German and Spanish teacher, Amy has previously taught creative writing at Northfield Arts Guild and FiftyNorth

Sara Hanson is a sculptor and public artist, driven by exploration, experimentation and discovery. For her, art is a transformative process in every way. Her work with the WOW Mobile Lab and Show allows the individual to connect with that transformation in a very physical sense. She delights in witnessing a participant’s wonder at working with metal: carving a mold, melting down their material, seeing it harden and take the shape of their vision

Lucy LeMay is a retired art educator. She is an award winning watercolor painter with signature status in Northstar and Minnesota Watermedia Societies. LeMay teaches watercolor in the south metro. She has served as chair of the Scott County Art Crawl, board member for Northstar Watermedia Society National Exhibition, and as a board member for both the Burnsville and Savage Visual Arts Councils. LeMay travels    internationally and nationally with her husband Steve while not exhibiting her water media. “Before they can hold a spoon at Gamma’s house, the kiddos have paint on their hands!”

Melissa Martinson began to fall in love with clay in the fall of 2013 by taking ceramics courses with Ron Gallas at St. Olaf College. Melissa has taught clay classes to children and adults at multiple art centers. While teaching, Melissa hopes to teach others the impact clay can have on an individual. Melissa is currently a Licensed Social Worker at Rice County Social Services and is currently attending Adler Graduate School to pursue a master’s degree in Art Therapy.

Kathleen Pender grew up in Northfield, MN and received her B.A. in Dance from St. Olaf College. Kathleen teaches modern, tap and ballet classes during the summer at the Guild and co-directs Dance Theater Company. She is Company Manager with Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater and teaches with Young Dance in Minneapolis.

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.

Becky Pearson is a visual artist living in Cannon Falls. She is a creator of jewelry and decorative items made from all kinds of materials, most currently polymer clay. Becky teaches clay classes at senior living facilities and loves every challenging minute of it. She holds a degree in Graphic Arts and attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, but says her most valuable learning experiences have come from her own experimentation. Many of her projects were completed simply because she wasn’t aware that she couldn’t do it.

Kate Stuart teaches dance, dance fitness, and music in Northfield and the Twin  Cities.  She has been involved with the Guild teaching dance and music since 2009, and more recently has participated in several Purple Door Youth theater projects as costume supervisor and as stage manager.  Kate is also the Music Director of the Twin Cities Recorder Guild and the costume designer for Baile Folklorico at the Northfield Arts Guild.

Judy Saye-Willis is a visual artist from Rice County and has lived in rural Minnesota her entire life. Her current 2D and 3D work is focused on the use of natural pigments and dyes from locally grown and foraged materials and from international suppliers of natural dye colorants. Judy has received in depth training from Michel Garcia an internationally known botanist, chemist, and natural dye scholar. She uses natural dyes and organic materials to produce bodies of work on textiles and paper for Installation Art, Exhibitions, Public Art, Wearable Art and Home Decor. Her intellectual curiosity about the mysteries of nature, color and how things work provides inspiration. Her work is compelling and speaks to environmental stewardship and the choices we make that impact human conditions and the bridges that bind us together.

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 multi-time choreographer for Northfield High School’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival she also choreographs the fall musicals there. Shari teaches dance at Arcadia Charter School, and choreographs musicals at regional theaters. In all her work, Shari focuses on empowering her dancers to find their own unique style.

2020-21 Education programs sponsored by

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