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Instructor Bios

David Abeel, M.S., has been building wood furniture since the mid-1980s and began teaching in 2000. His goal is to make furniture making accessible to crafters, woodworkers, and chair lovers of all ages and skill levels.

Elizabeth Abeel, B.A., a batik artist since 1975, is a member of the Michigan Guild of Artists and Craftsmen, has won numerous awards for her work, and has taught for EES since 1995.

Scott Anderson is a charter boat captain with Far-Fetched Fishing Charters out of Leland, MI.

Tania Arens has been studying Tae Kwon Do at NMC since 2007 and obtained the rank of 1st Degree Black Belt in 2015. She has taught under the guidance of Tae Kwon Do instructors Robert Odette and Doug Mehl and is currently the Youth Tae Kwon Do instructor for NMC Extended Education

Thena Axiotis-Dahl, B.A.-French and Communications from Oakland University, has a Secondary Education Teaching Certificate and a minor in Spanish from University of Michigan-Dearborn. She taught both French and Spanish to middle school and high school students before moving to Traverse City. She currently works at Peninsula Community Library where she reads for Story Stew (PCL’s story time) and promotes library programming. She is also an organizer for the French Language Group of Traverse City, a semi-biweekly French conversation group.

Yvette Babin-Ringsmuth, B.A.-linguistics/international business, worked for an international company, commuting regularly to Latin America and worked as a language training consultant for business executives.

Bill Bailey taught math and science to high school students for 30 years. He has been a member of the Grand Traverse Sail and Power Squadron for 10 years. He is a past Commander of the Grand Traverse Bay Sail and Power Squadron and completed the Junior Navigation course which deals with finding your way at sea with a sextant.

Theresa and Stephen Bangle have studied and practiced Buddhist philosophy and meditation with many accomplished Buddhist masters such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, and His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche. Having observed firsthand their teachers’ wisdom and kindness over many decades, and having seen the result of the practice in those they have taught over the past 18 years, they gratefully share these teachings.

Carol Bell, M.S. R.D., is a registered dietitian at Table Health, an integrative medical practice in Traverse City. She has taught cooking classes for over 12 years and seeks to bring enjoyment, laughter and good tasting food to health care.

Lin Benfield, MBA, Career and Educational Advisor, is an independent career strategist assisting individuals with advanced career searches, resume writing, educational consulting, tutoring and providing courses on the topic of job search success at any age.

Margaret Bennett, CYT, RYT, M.A.-psychology, is a certified yoga instructor and therapist. She has taught yoga at NMC since 1997, is a Reiki Master, and has formal training in meditation traditions. She is director of Crooked Tree Yoga and Therapy in Acme.

Anne Boulley, chocolatier, spent her youth in France where she learned French Cuisine. She was a caterer and food writer for magazines and now concentrates on the art of chocolate from selecting fine chocolates to honing her skills with confection-based fillings.

Paddy Brown, CZT, is a certified Zentangle® instructor who has been practicing mindfulness for many years. She is a lifelong artist/creator.

Pat Brumbaugh, A.B.D. in horn performance, M.M., was the Director of Bands at West Senior High for the past 13 years. Prior to her work in Traverse City, she taught at the University of Memphis and Arkansas University.

Alice Brydges has been teaching the Feldenkrais Method since 1996. A former dancer, she first encountered the Method as part of her search to heal a chronic back injury; after just one class, she felt so radically different in her body that she went home and applied to be in a professional training that very same day. Over the years she has taught in a variety of settings with a wide variety of people, including Feldenkrais for cancer and heart disease patients at UCSF San Francisco, dance movement therapy classes for people with Parkinson's, and the Joffrey Ballet. Besides teaching Feldenkrais, her other passions are teaching tai chi, swimming in Lake Michigan and living to tell about it, and wandering the Michigan woods with her dog.

Christy Burich made the move to Traverse City from Chicago 5 years ago so that she could take time to grieve the loss of her husband to cancer in 2013. “Probably for the first 2 years of my grief, I found myself looking back...a lot. I would look at pictures, watch our family videos, read cards and love notes, and the whole time longing for my old life back. I would scream it out over and over, “I just want it all back! Please! I want it all back!” I rejected the ideas about creating a “new normal” for myself because I didn't want it. In the world that doesn’t stop for anyone, I did my best to just SURVIVE the pain.” “One of the tools I have always used to bring about clarity, to be able to set forth my intentions, and to restore my hope and confidence has been to create vision boards. I can tell you, without a doubt, I manifested for myself the most wonderfully perfect, “SECOND FIRST new home!” The first, of course was with my husband Larry and this second home (right here in TC!) is the one where I am celebrating a new chapter in my deeply passionate, fiercely authentic and wildly enthusiastic life!” “I made the decision early in my grief that I would not let the pain destroy me. I prayed that one day I could stand as a pillar of light and use this experience in good ways- to bring myself and others to a greater happiness and a wisdom-filled life.”

Bo Burke, ISA Certified Arborist, ISA Certified Tree Worker and Climber Specialist, has more than 15 successful years in the preservation, restoration and care of trees. He has taught tree climbing for many years.

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli is a mystery novelist -- her 12th novel, In Want of a Knife, is in bookstores now. Elizabeth’s books hit the number one ranking on Amazon twice in the last year. She is a speaker and conference coordinator, as well as a journalist and short story writer. She looks forward to leading students into the maze of the mystery and into dark corners where writers must go to create a satisfying mystery novel -- the kind publishers and readers demand. Her novel: DEAD DANCING WOMEN was recently selected as a featured book by BookBub, an international distribution group, to be sold in Great Britain, Australia, Canada, U.S., and India. A MOST CURIOUS MURDER (Crooked Lane Books), first in her third series, was published in 2016. (Goodreads review: Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s quaint and compelling series debut: A Most Curious Murder, will delight mystery readers new and old.) The second in this new series: SHE STOPPED FOR DEATH was released in January, 2017. (Publisher’s Weekly said of it: A riveting climax will have readers on the edge of their seats.)

Dan Carlson has had a lifelong passion with photography. He started Carlson Photography in 2008 where he specializes in family and senior portrait sessions and wedding photography. He has shared his passion and talents with others in small group classes.

Julie Chai began a formal, daily meditation practice in 1971, after the death of a close friend. She was introduced to Mindfulness Meditation in 1991, while in a 9-month Internship in the Art of Spiritual Direction. The practice of Mindfulness is central to all the inner and outer work she does, from work with pre-marital couples, Inner Listening Therapy, workshops or spending the day painting or potting.

Katie Clark has been teaching local students on and off since 2010. As a young artist, Katie studied at the Dance Center and performed in numerous ballets, including The Nutcracker as Clara, and Sleeping Beauty as the Ruby Fairy. After getting a taste for theater at West Senior High, Katie completed a BA in Japanese Language and Culture at Wellesley College where she enjoyed pursuing such roles as a Witch in Macbeth, and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. Upon graduating in 2014, Katie was awarded the Paul R Barstow award for Theatrical Excellence. Katie has continued her involvement in the arts as a teacher for Drama Kids International and in her volunteer work at the Old Town Playhouse, appearing most recently as Sophie Sheridan in 2018’s Mamma Mia.

Eric “Zeke” Clemons, B.A., is part of the team at Traverse City Guitar Company where he teaches acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, harmonica, vocals, beginning piano, music theory and song writing. Zeke has resided in the TC area since 2006 and has many years of experience teaching and playing gigs.

Jeffrey Cobb, M.M.-choral conducting, is the Director of Music Programs at NMC. He has more than 20 years of experience in music education as a teacher, choral director, composer, and church Director of Music. Choirs under his direction have received state and national awards and invitations; several of his compositions have received awards.

Dean Conners, B.F.A., B.L.A., is a registered landscape architect and member of the North American Society of Landscape Architects. His company, Borealis Design, focuses on regenerative, low-impact landscape and site design, as well as installation of sundials and solar calendars. He has been making maple syrup at home since 1996.

JoAnne Cook, J.D., is the former Chief Judge of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians. She served as Vice-President of the Michigan Indian Judicial Association.

Fred Curow, B.A., M.A., M.Ed.-social studies curriculum specialist, has 35 years secondary social studies teaching experience in Michigan and Hawaii. He was 12 years a moderator for adult discussion classes on population, globalization, and Foreign Policy Association Great Decisions in Washington State, and four years at NMC.

James Dake is the Education Director for Grass River Natural Area, studied science education at Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University. He is a certified teacher in the state of Michigan and is working towards a Master of Arts in Science Education. He is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation. 

Joan D’Argo is an energy intuitive, teacher, and Soul Coach who has been seeing clients since 2006. Her healing practice combines her advanced skills as an energy intuitive with Soul Coaching®, vibrational tune-ups, and hands on healing. Through her classes, mentoring programs, and one-on-one healing sessions, she helps you expand into the truth, beauty and magic of who you really are so your radiant light can shine. For more info, visit

Michael Davis, B.S.-music, has performed as a professional jazz musician on saxophone and flute for over 40 years and is founder and leader of the Mike Davis Trio. Mike started the NMC Jazz Ensemble and is the saxophone instructor at NMC.

Sherry Davis is a local food columnist, “Pragmatically Plant-Based,” with Record-Eagle and a certified Food for Life cooking instructor with Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine ( PCRM’s Food for Life Nutrition and Cooking programs are designed by physicians, nurses, and registered dietitians and offer classes in cancer, diabetes, and weight management that focus on the lifesaving effects of healthful eating. She is also certified through eCornell in Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s Plant-Based Nutrition program. Sherry’s practical approach to changing your diet is fun and high energy (

Steve Dixon, A.A.-accounting, is an A.C.E. certified personal trainer.

Beth Dole is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist and Certified Athletic Trainer. She has over 26 years of experience working in the health and fitness industry, including work in sports medicine and cardiac rehabilitation. She has worked with professional, college, and high school athletes as a certified athletic trainer. With the combination of exercise physiology and athletic training, Beth helps young and old return to physical activity in a safe, healthy and timely manner.

Chris Doyal, a commercial photographer for more than 20 years, owned a studio in South Bend, IN. His specialty areas include product and underwater photography.

Jennifer Dykstra has taught academic and noncredit classes in fitness for many years.

Les Eckert CEPC, CCE, AAC, Director of Great Lakes Culinary Institute, has an MBA with an emphasis in Hospitality Studies, is a Certified Executive Pastry Chef, Certified Culinary Educator and a member of the American Academy of Chefs. Eckert has over 25 years of foodservice experience, 13 years in higher education, and over five years in higher education management. New to NMC in June 2019, Eckert now calls Traverse City home.

Dorothy Eisenstein is an adjunct instructor of dance at NMC.

Brett P. Fessell, M.S.-fisheries management, has been the Fisheries and Wildlife Biologist and Program Director for the Grand Traverse Band’s Natural Resources Department since 1996.

Tina Norris Fields, M.A.-leadership, B.S.-Bus/CIS, owns Tall Pines Computer Training and specializes in facilitating computer mastery for both adults and children. Her background includes database systems development, adult education, and genealogical research.

Larry Flynn, B.S. Business Admin., Enrolled Agent (EA), Accredited Business Accountant (ABA), Series 7 Securities Licensed, Investment Advisory Representative (IAR). Larry served 3 times as president of the Independent Accounting Association of MI.

Mary Bevans Gillett, MBA, MA, CFRM, brings expertise in grant writing, reviewing and administration as well as professional experience with nonprofits, arts and culture, community building and marketing communications. She is co-convener of the Northwest Michigan Arts and Culture Network, and the Region 2 regrant coordinator for Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs minigrant program, as well as a freelance writer.

Dr. Andrew Gorecki, PhD., received his bachelors in exercise science from Northern Michigan University and continued his education at Central Michigan University where he received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT). Dr. Gorecki is the owner of Superior Physical Therapy in Traverse City, which was awarded the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce 2018 Hagerty Small Business of the Year Award. He is a physical therapist and exercise physiologist as well as a Foot Pain Specialist. Dr. Gorecki is a bestselling author, writing books like The Truth About Low Back Pain – the Hidden Culprits. Dr. Gorecki specializes in functional applied science which originates from internationally acclaimed physical therapist Gary Gray where he analyzes biomechanical dysfunctions in order to realize the true cause of your pain.

Vanessa Grasset was born and raised in France. She graduated from the Great Lakes Culinary Institute in 2015. Three years later she opened Crêpes & Co in the State Street Market, downtown Traverse City. At the creperie, Vanessa uses regional Michigan foods to make authentic French crêpes plus other French comfort foods and baked goods from scratch.

Gloria A. Halligan, M.A.-education; B.S.-health management, is owner of Traverse City Walks, LLC. She leads walks TC trails as well as guiding mountain hikes in AZ. She provides training and conference presentations. She was the Interagency Coordinating Council facilitator for Char-Em and COP counties. Gloria became a walker at the age of 35.

Rachael Harrell, M.F.A., is the Owner/Director of Drama Kids of Northern Michigan which offers classes and camps to students throughout Northern Michigan. Rachael attended college at University of Michigan and received her Masters of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from Roosevelt University in Chicago. Rachael is part of the Drama Kids International network, which cultivates skillful, caring teachers who are fully trained in their program and are focused on providing individualized attention and positive reinforcement to each student.

Stephanie Hawkins has a 1st-degree black belt through the U.S. Judo Federation. She has competed nationally, and is State Judo Champion numerous times in her division.

Eleonora Hayes, M.F.A., has been teaching and creating art since 2000. Her art has appeared in the Grand Rapids Art Prize competition since 2013.

Jennifer Helferich has been involved with beading and other crafts since 2004 and sells her handcrafted jewelry locally. She has been a youth group leader since 2008.

Rex Holden, MSPT, is a Physical Therapist and co-owner of FYZICAL Therapy and Balance Centers in TC. He has worked with physical therapy patients from 2 to 104 years old. He has also worked with college-level and professional athletes in baseball, skiing, basketball, football and many other sports. Rex has taken numerous continuing education courses in unloading or unweighting (one of the main features of FAST Physical Therapy), functional biomechanics, sports rehabilitation, spine rehabilitation, speed and jump training, balance, geriatric rehabilitation, muscle energy techniques, Norwegian manual therapy techniques, and medical exercise training.

Rufus James, B.A-design, M.F.A., is a painter whose work has been shown in New York, Philadelphia, Santa Fe, Paris, Michigan, and several galleries and museums in California.

Lawrence Earle Johnson resides in beautiful Traverse City, Michigan, after retiring from long careers in criminal justice and higher education. Earning degrees in both Criminal Justice and Psychology, Johnson was a street cop, worked in intelligence and organized crime, and provided security for U.S. presidents and foreign heads of state. He has also been a highly-regarded college professor in both Michigan and Georgia. Passionate about science fiction novels from an early age, Johnson recently began a second career as a crime/thriller novelist. Johnson draws upon his education and wealth of professional experience to pen novels filled with conspiracy, political intrigue, and life-and-death situations.

Scott Johnson, an admitted geek, has been building, tweaking, and tuning computers for more than 20 years. He has extensive experience in tutoring users for home and business and teaches computer applications for NMC-EES. He owns the Stained Glass Cabinet Company.

Geoffrey Jones is an American Culinary Federation-certified Chef Instructor at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute. While working as an executive chef in Lansing, Geoff won the Michigan Pork Producers “Taste of Elegance” competition as well as several Gold and Silver medals in other food and ice carving competitions. He is the owner of northern Michigan-based Winnie's Originals LLC and producer of Winnie's brand products.

Dr. Angela Keas is the owner of InMotion Center for Chiropractic Care & Exercise Therapy. She has been a lecturer and consultant with the Kinesiology department at Mississippi State University, as well as a consultant for the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. 

Steve Kellman, B.A., is the Coordinator of Web Content at NMC and an adjunct instructor. He has taught web design and Adobe InDesign since 2010.

Brandon Kietzman, A.A.S., graduated from Bikram Yoga College Teacher Training in 2002, then recertified in 2006, 2009, and 2013. He has attended many Bikram Yoga Seminars, studied with senior Bikram yoga teachers, taught nearly 10,000 yoga classes, and has been teaching for NMC since 2009. He is director of Bikram Yoga T.C..

Coreene Kreiser, B.F.A., is an adjunct instructor in NMC’s Humanities Area. A professional photographer, Coreene has many publications and years of experience in the field..

Donald Kuehlhorn is a retired computer professional and certified producer with UPNorth TV public access where he creates programming for public viewing. He has also been supporting the Old Town Playhouse with videos and archival web sites since 2010.

Maribel LaLonde, B.S.-education, has been a Jackie Sorenson Aerobics certified instructor since 1998.

Harold Lassers spent 27 years at Bell Labs and another 4 years with silicon valley network companies working on mobile telephony and data. The latter part of his career was spent under the mobility CTO for Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and Cisco Systems. Harold taught courses in mobile telecommunications at Bell Labs to engineers moving in from other fields. He has an MS in Computer Science from Northwestern University and a BS in Engineering from UofM.

Stephen Lewis, Ph.D., has authored eight print novels. His most recent, Murder Undone, the sequel to Murder on Old Mission, was published in 2017. His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous journals. His sixth college textbook, Templates, was published in 2014. He retired as Professor of English Emeritus from Suffolk Community College and taught online composition courses for Ferris State University.

Misaeng Suh Liggett, a native of Japan, attended Tsuji Cooking School in Tokyo and worked as a chef. She has taught Japanese cooking workshops and Japanese language at NMC since 2005.

Zack Light, M.S., holds an ACE Trainer certification as well as certification as a personal trainer. He winters in Florida and during the summer months is employed as a police officer in Antrim County. Zack has had success locally and internationally as a weightlifter and bodybuilder.

Sally Littleton, PhD., is a retired psychotherapist, and has practiced Reiki for 25 years. She is certified as Shihan (Master Teacher) in both Usui Reiki Ryoho and Gendai Reiki-Ho. Dr. Littleton is a Registered Practitioner and Teacher member in Shibumi International Reiki Association and a member of the National Association of Alternative and Complimentary Medicines and the Reiki Healing Association. Helping people heal has been an ongoing major focus of her life, and teaching these principles and practices to others is an enduring passion.

Ali Lopez is a wellness chef as well as a cooking and health coach. She has been cooking, feeding and teaching others about “real food” for over 20 years. She was Chef de Cuisine at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck NY, one of the largest vegetarian kitchens in North America. Ali is also a Certified Health Coach and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She believes that delicious and nutritious meals nourish the body, mind and spirit.

Jennifer Loup, B.A.-history, was zookeeper at Traverse City’s Clinch Park Zoo, and has over 15 years of animal care experience. She has 10 years of experience training dogs one-on-one and in group class settings.

Michele Lurvey, B.S., SHRM-SCP, is a leadership development and team building coach who has a knack for communication that is direct and kind, which she shares with those she teaches. She is a Profit from the Positive Certified Practitioner and her coaching raises individual and team positivity which translates into more productive, engaged, and happy employees.

Nancy McRay, M.F.A., has been teaching and producing a wide variety of fiber arts since the mid-1980s. She is a former yarn shop owner and Fine Arts Coordinator for East Lansing Recreation and Arts.

Jessica Merwin is an accredited and licensed Chakradance Facilitator. She has over 5 years of experience practicing many healing modalities, including qigong, yoga, meditation, and dance. Chakradance is recognized by the International Institute for Complementary Therapists as a healing modality, and Chakradance LTD is an IICT Approved Training Provider.

Phillip Mikesell, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University, taught comparative politics at Wabash College for more than 40 years. He lived, worked, and traveled extensively in Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. He retired from active teaching in 2009 and is currently working on the topic of democracy and economic development.

Sarah Montgomery-Richards has an abundant experience in cultural and religious studies. She studied Comparative Religion, and has an M.A. in Interfaith Action. Her experience includes: teaching at Western Michigan University in the Department of Comparative Religion during graduate school, and a current adjunct faculty role in the Philosophy Department at NMC where she teaches Western and Eastern Traditions, as well as a seminar on Global Citizenship & Religion. She is currently serving as the Director of Lifespan Experience for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Grand Traverse, has made multiple trips abroad, and participated in the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, UT. Sarah has a background in world religions, history of religion, psychology of religion, philosophy of religion, interfaith action, mindfulness, religion in the public sphere, and myth and ritual just to name a few. She enjoys teaching in an academic setting, as well as leading group meditation & ritual, & participates in celebrations of a variety of world spiritual perspectives.

Wayne Moody, is Director of Automotive Technology at NMC. His is an ASE Master Automotive and Truck Technician who, for 34 years, owned and operated a local automotive repair facility in Traverse City.

Jamie Moreland B.A.-music education, is a K-12 certified music educator. She taught elementary music for TCAPS from 2012-2019. She has been the director of the TCAPS All-City Girls Choir since 2015, and maintains a small private piano and voice studio.

Jim Moses has over 30 years of mushroom cultivation and hunting experience. Jim has recently earned the new MDARD certification to sell wild mushrooms.

Sharon Neumann, is Munson Hospice Bereavement Coordinator and Grief Recover Specialist.

Jan Oliver, M.A.-communications, is the designer/owner of Grand Traverse Arts ( She is a watercolor painter, illustrator, graphic designer and educator. She is currently illustrating a children’s book and has sold many paintings, illustrations and logo designs. Jan has taught as an adjunct instructor at NMC.

Jim Olson, J.D. LL.M., is a noted water, environmental and natural resources law expert, and author. He is Founder and Legal Advisor at FLOW (For Love of Water), an organization dedicated to protecting the common waters of the Great Lakes Basin through public trust solutions.

Peter Payette is the Executive Director of Interlochen Public Radio. He was previously the station's News Director. For many years, he hosted the weekly program Points North and has reported on a wide range of issues critical to the culture and economy of northern Michigan. His work has been featured on NPR, Michigan Radio, Bridge magazine and Edible Grande Traverse. He has taught journalism and radio production to students and adults at Interlochen Center for the Arts. Peter has vacationed in Benzie County his entire life. His wife Sarah is his biggest fan. They have three children, Isabelle, Amelia and Emmet, and live happily in Traverse City.

Fran Perkett, M.T.S., B.A., has worked for more than 20 years in education and pastoral positions. She is a regional workshop leader.

Gilda Povolo, M.F.A.-creative writing, B.A.-English education, won the Hopwood Award in Short Fiction, the Hopwood Award in Novel, a Michigan Artists Grant, and was a finalist for the Pirates’ Alley Faulkner Novel contest. Her novel “Strays” is available from

Maggie Quinn, M.A.-clothing and textiles, B.A.-home economics, is a certified personal trainer and a certified Jacki Sorensen aerobics instructor. She also has extensive experience in quilt making and design.

Nikki Rallis, B.S.-criminal justice, is of Greek descent and enjoys teaching classes from her heritage. She has taught community education for more than 15 years and owned a gourmet food company for five years. Nikki is a cater and self-employed as an artist. She uses cooking as her creative outlet.

Chrissie Reitmeyer began her dance training at the age of three in her hometown of Austin, Texas. She graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois with a degree in Dance and Creative Writing before moving to northern Michigan to work in Residence Life at Interlochen Arts Academy. From there, she moved to Traverse City to pursue a Master's in counseling through Western Michigan. She continued dancing and teaching hip hop and cardio dance at Soul Step Urban Dance Studio, and guest-taught tap at Dance Arts Academy. In her spare time, she still makes dances with her friends, sings back-up in a band, and is a volunteer DJ at WNMC.

Chris Remy is a level 2 International Mountain Bike Association certified Mountain Bike instructor with over 10 years of cycling, maintenance and teaching experience.

Gavin Richmond, B.S.-Elementary Education, Grand Valley State University. Gavin is an avid player and coach of both Cricket and Soccer. Currently, he is an Elementary Teacher at Glen Lake Community Schools.

Libby Robold, M.A., E-RYT, PRYT, AHC, has been teaching yoga for NMC since 1984 and yoga therapy for many years. She and her husband co-direct Yoga for Health Education in TC.

Michael Robold, M.A., CYT, has been teaching yoga since 2002, after assisting in classes for 15 years. He teaches for NMC and co-directs Yoga for Health Education, Center for Conscious Living, in TC.

Peggy Rod, B.S., is a retired TCAPS elementary teacher. She has enjoyed the game of Mah Jongg since 2001.

Michelle Rodriguez graduated from Western Michigan University with two majors, business marketing and comparative religion, but always knew she wanted to be a chef. She has always had a huge passion for food, and has traveled to find inspiration, read hundreds of books, and practiced at home and worked in some of the nation’s best restaurants. She never stops asking questions! She says “It’s important to have fun in the kitchen and learn the life-long impact of healthy eating early on!”

Holly Rudolph, B.A., is President of Frost Hill Financial Services, LLC. She is a QuickBooks ProAdvisor and a member of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. She has worked in finance since 1992.

Tony Sauerbrey is Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Program Manager with the NMC Aviation Area.

Margaret Schaal, B.B.A., has been involved at Old Town Playhouse for more than 20 years as a director, producer, painter, designer, and teacher. She has served on the Artistic Board, been Volunteer of the Year, and is an Unsung Hero Award recipient.

Stephanie Schall-Brazee, M.M.E., B.M.E., teaches elementary music for TCAPS. She has worked with elementary, high school, and college choirs.

Kennith Scott, B.S., is a Mechanical Engineer also trained in Nuclear Physics while in the Naval Nuclear program. Ken has been studying Quantum Physics, Epigenetics and Brain Science, while practicing meditation and yoga since 2012. Much of ken’s study is inspired by the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza and Dr. Bruce Lipton.

Laurie Sears, is Director of Jazz Bands and an Adjunct Instructor of Woodwinds. Laurie is also on the faculty of the Interlochen College of Creative Arts Adult Band Camp. Band directing experience includes TC West Junior High and TC Christian School. While in the Chicago area, Laurie directed the Jazz Ensemble and was an Adjunct Instructor of Woodwinds and Jazz at Columbia College, Concordia University Chicago and Triton College.

Heather Shumaker is the author of Saving Arcadia, It’s OK Not to Share, and It’s OK to Go Up the Slide. She teaches at writing conferences and enjoys sharing all things “book” with others.

Alexandra Smith B.A.-communications, B.F.A.-graphic design, has worked for several marketing and promotions firms including Visual Services, Inc. and Evigna, where she worked on accounts for several Fortune 500 companies such as Ford, Jaguar and Bosch. She now dedicates herself full-time to teaching, and is currently an instructor for the Digital Graphic Design and Digital Imaging classes at NMC.

Randy Smith, B.S.-resource development, has skied all Nordic disciplines for 40 years and is a PSIA-certified Instructor for classic and skating techniques. He is also the owner of Renewable Services, LLC, a design/installation company for solar PV, solar thermal, and wind energy with BPI certification for home energy diagnostics. Randy has been part of the NMC Energy Demonstration Center since its inception and has residential and commercial installations throughout Michigan.

Michelle Smith-Ronk is a graduate of NMC’s Great Lakes Culinary Institute. She owns a home-based business, Custom Cookies by Michelle, where she enjoys decorating cookies for all of life’s occasions.

Maggie Sperry was one of the youngest people in the U.S. to achieve the level of Shodan, first-degree black belt in Judo. She has been a youth Judo instructor at NMC since 1989..

Steve Stanton, B.S., worked for IBM in sales then later developing training material to support the worldwide deployment of a major software tool for internal and IBM Business Partner users. Since retiring from IBM, along with teaching at NMC Extended Ed, he has been conducting technology-related training programs for various organizations in the Detroit and Grand Traverse area. He also has a computer service, repair and training business in Suttons Bay.

Maggi Steele, B.A., M.M., is a retired teacher who taught for Midland Public Schools for 30 years. She teaches College for Kids cooking classes and is also a volunteer assistant and instructor for NMC-EES adult cooking classes.

Kimberly Stevens, B.A., ACE certified aerobics instructor, has taught exercise classes since 1985. Kim teaches at Grand Traverse Resort and works for Western Michigan University.

Linda Szarkowski, a chef, teacher and coach of plant-based eating, is passionate about showing people that healthy food can also be the best tasting. She has been on a self-taught quest for healthy living for decades and has backed it up with certifications in the Benefits of Raw Food Nutrition, Chef and Instructor from the Living Light Culinary Institute in Ft. Bragg, CA, and Living Foods Educator from the Living Foods Institute in Atlanta, GA. Linda has inspired many people to adopt healthier eating with her classes and motivating talks that encourage change, but not perfection.

Marcia Talicska is a certified Piloxing instructor and has her Personal Trainer Certificate through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). An athlete throughout her life, Marcia has taught classes at Yen Yoga and for She Skis/She Bikes. She has completed 15 half marathons in the last five years and participated in triathlons and other sporting events.

Zach Tate, M.F.A.-ceramics, is the ceramics instructor in the NMC Humanities Area. His work has been exhibited internationally since 2007. Before moving to Traverse City, he was a Research Associate at the University of Notre Dame from 2014-2018, and Executive Director of Goshen Community Arts in Indiana from 2014-2018. In 2018, Zach was elected as a Director At Large for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts until 2021.

Alison Thornton is the Coordinator for Technology Support Services at NMC. She is a Google Certified Educator and has worked in technology in higher education as well as in the legal and financial industries.

Matthew Valdiviez, B.A.- philosophy and English, M.A. and M.Phil.-English language and literature, has taught both college and high-school courses on composition, traditional grammar, literary criticism and theory, modern philosophy, geography, ancient Greek history, biblical studies, religion in America, and Shakespeare.

Adam VanHouten, M.A.-curriculum and teaching, B.F.A.-art education, has been teaching visual art classes for TCAPS since 2004 and painting classes for NMC EES since 2010. Adam paints in a variety of media. As a watercolor artist, he exhibits his work widely and took 1st place in the 2014 Cherry Festival Poster Contest.

Alice VanZoeren, B.S.-natural history, has taught NMC-EES outdoor classes since 1993 and also works with local schools, the Leelanau Conservancy, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. She currently works year-round with the Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery program.

Todd Vipond is Director of the Dolce Ensemble of the Northwestern Michigan College Children’s Choir.

Sarah Wangler is a Communications instructor at NMC.

Kirk Waterstripe, M.S.-ecology, is the Science Lab Manager at NMC and an adjunct instructor of Plant Biology. He has been an active organic gardener and compost maker since 1990.

Mykl Werth has been performing and teaching professionally since 1983 focusing on partner dancing and modern dance as well as country, folk, clogging, Irish, show, and theatrical dancing.

Jerry Williams served 8 years in the US Navy and was a professor at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy at NMC for 30+ years. He has been a member of the Grand Traverse Bay Sail and Power Squadron for 25 years and served as Treasurer and Squadron Education Officer for 6 years.

Wendy Williams, B.A.-social work, has been deaf since birth. She has tutored students in American Sign Language for over 20 years. She is an advocate for the Deaf Community and hosts monthly gatherings of ASL students with the Deaf Community.

Glenn Wolff, B.F.A., began his career as an illustrator for such clients as the New York Times. He is currently a full-time art instructor at NMC teaching drawing, watercolor, printmaking and 2D design. He has illustrated numerous books. His mixed media fine art and collaborative environmental work has been shown in numerous galleries, museums and public spaces.

Daniel M. Zassick, Simulator Manager and Instructor, Great Lakes Maritime Academy. Originally a native of Cleveland, OH, Daniel has come to reside in Traverse City, MI as the Simulator Manager for the Great Lakes Maritime Academy (GLMA) after having recently graduated from the GLMA Deck Officer program in May of this year. As the Simulator Manager, Daniel oversees the utilization, troubleshooting, and maintenance of the Academy’s Full Mission Bridge simulator, Integrated Navigation Laboratory (INL), K-Sim Engine Room Simulator, and Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) simulator. Additionally, Daniel carries adjunct instructing responsibilities as the Marine Communications, GMDSS, and Elementary First Aid course instructor. Daniel brings forward simulation and communications experience from a twelve year career as a rotary-wing aviator in the U.S. Army Reserve prior to attending GLMA as a student. He was rated as Pilot-in-Command and Air-Mission-Commander in the AH-64D Apache Attack Helicopter and as a Pilot in the UH-60A/L Utility Helicopter. Daniel, and his unit the 8-229th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, mobilized in support of Operation New Dawn to Camp Taji, Iraq in 2011. In addition to his work at Northwestern Michigan College and GLMA, Daniel enjoys bicycling and working with the non-profit charity the Fuller Center for Housing and its program the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure. 

We thank all of our wonderful instructors for sharing their time and expertise with our community! You make the wide range of class topics possible every semester!

Part-time instructors wanted

NMC Extended Education seeks part-time instructors to teach short courses in the following areas:

  • English as a second language (ESL)

Teaching degree not required. Looking for enthusiastic presenters with content knowledge, passion, and willingness to share. Send resume and letter with interest areas to

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