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About the Teachers - College for Kids

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Joedy Annis has formal training in tap, ballet, jazz, modern, and hip-hop. She danced professionally for three years and teaches Hip Hop dance at NMC.

Adam Phillip Begley attended the Pathfinder School and Hope College (B.A.) as well as the School of Mosaic Art in Ravenna, Italy. He has been a guest teacher at NMC and at Glen Lake HIgh School, as well as being an instructor/chaperone for Leelanau 4-H and the MSU Extension Office. He offers workshops through his home studio, Adam Begley Mosaic Design, LLC, and kids tennis programs through USTA of Michigan.

Lin Benfield is an independent career and educational advisor and the social media and marketing manager for Michigan Health and Wellness, Traverse City. Lin graduated with an MBA from Davenport University and helps students find their career path, school of preference, and aids with scholarships including essays and college entrance essays. When Lin isn’t helping her students or the medical practice, she enjoys time with her husband, son, daughter and two shepherd mixes outdoors in Northern Michigan.

Michelle Bien earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at the University of Michigan in 2007. She then started her own fine art and design business, Studio Bien. In 2015, she founded Artists of Northwest Michigan, a networking group open to all regional artists and arts enthusiasts. Ms. Bien currently participates as artist and teacher at small organizations and as a substitute at local public schools.

Annie Callahan, B.A., is a Secondary Science/STEM teacher at Grand Traverse Academy. She has been teaching College for Kids classes since 2014.

Bob Chaphalkar is an electrical engineer with extensive experience as a design and controls engineer for several different controls companies. He has experience in electrical and pneumatic controls and has taught group classes on electric motors and industrial controls. He holds certificates in Industrial Machinery and Safety.

Eric “Zeke” Clemons, B.A., is a musician and music instructor. Zeke has over 8 years of music teaching experience and currently instructs classes at The Beat Lab in Traverse City.

Christina Collins is a local mixed media and brick artist. Christina is a member of Michigan LEGO® Users Group, has been featured on Interlochen Public Radio, and builds at History Center of Traverse City during annual brick events. She has taught both art and LEGO® to children ages 4-17.

Amber Coulter is a self taught Mixed Media artist and Art Journaler. She has been teaching both children and adults for the last 3 years at both Crooked Tree Arts and Arts For All.

Jessica Crawford has an innate passion for sewing and created, owned and operated a business catering to Michigan’s interior design trade along with a vast retail following. Since 1993, Slipcovers Plus Home Decor is a full-service residential custom home decor business including fabrication to custom slipcovers, custom upholstery, custom window treatments as well as custom cushions and pillows. slipcoversplus.com

James Dake is the Education Director at Grass River Natural Area and author of Field Guide to Northwest Michigan.

Val Domkiv, M.A.-Human Behavior, has been a classroom teacher for 13 years. She is co-author of several Teacher Education books.

Kay Epple, RYT 200, is a certified yoga teacher who has specialized training in children’s yoga and mindfulness from Jen Rapanos at Well-Bean and Rainbow Yoga. She and Cathy Fitzgerald run Little Minds Yoga and Well-being and teach yoga and mindfulness to children in the Traverse City area.

Jay Fernilius has a BFA from Eastern Michigan University and is a certified K-12 VIsual Arts Educator. He is currently teaching high school visual arts for the Lower Kuskokwim School District in rural Alaska. His experience teaching to a diverse population in Alaska has helped him understand the importance of modifying and relating the content of a lesson to fit various learning styles and cultural backgrounds.

Tina Norris Fields, M.A.-Leadership, B.S.-Business/CIS, owns Tall Pines Computer Training and teaches computer courses for NMC-EES.

Kevin Fitton, M.A.-Writing and Literature, is a graduate of the Writing Seminars at Bennington College. He is the author of the children’s book, Higher Ground, with Caldecott-winning artist Mary Azarian. He has published in a variety of magazines and journals, including Jabberwock, The Broad River Review, and Limestone, and his short short, “Crashums,” which appears in The Broad River Review, was a finalist for Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Award. He currently lives with his family in Lansing, MI.

Cathy Fitzgerald, B.A., owned and taught classes at her dance studio in Missouri for over 20 years. She took 2014 off to see the world, sharing photos and stories on her blog cathyfitz.com. Between travels, she loves to photograph weddings, families and dancers. She has taught in the College for Kids program since 2016.

John Gilligan, technology expert and entrepreneur, spent 10 years in the professional world before starting his own successful technology business. He is a co-owner of Quarkmine - a company based in Traverse City and dedicated to inspiring students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through events and World Championship level instruction.

Rachael Harrell, M.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.

Colleen Harris holds a Masters Degree in Teaching and Learning. She taught for over 30 years in elementary public education in various states and helped develop gifted and talented programs. She has partnered with Jennifer Little in creating and directing theatre workshops across the country.

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.

Lisa Hockin, A.A. B.F.A.-Art Education (MSU), has taught elementary art education for 26 years and at the college level for the past two years. She is currently teaching with Elk Rapids Public Schools in addition to teaching as an adjunct art instructor at Central Michigan University. As an artist, she uses a variety of art mediums including clay.

Nan Katzenberger, B.A., is an artist working in watercolor, acrylic and mixed media. She has taught art and painting classes to both children and adults for over 25 years in her studio at Art in the Loft. She has studied under well-known contemporary collage artists including Gerald Brommer, Jonathan Talbot and Elizabeth St. Hilaire.

Kimberly Kramer, B.S. Communications, University of North Florida; M. Ed. Curriculum and Instruction in Special Education, Ferris State University; is a teacher at West High School. She previously taught high school students with physical and cognitive impairments in Tampa, Florida, before her family moved to Traverse City in 2013. She is a certified K-5/6 elementary teacher and K-12 cognitive impairment and exception education teacher in both Florida and Michigan.

Mandy LaBarre, M.A., has 14+ years with Traverse City Area Public Schools. Her passion for reading inspires her current role as a 2nd grade teacher at Eastern Elementary. Mandy is the Reading Consultant/Teacher for NMC’s GRASP Reading & Math Program.

Philip Leete is currently the Robotics Program Director at TC West Senior High School and runs the Northwest Michigan VEX and VEX IQ Robotics League. He has a background in Mechanical Engineering, Math and Dance Choreography along with a deep fondness for all things “technology.”

Andrew Lewellen is an author, screenwriter, and journalist. His journalism has appeared in ESPN: The Magazine, The New York Times, and Grantland.com, and other outlets, and his TV Pilots won the UCLA Drama Pilot competition. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and a Certificate in Writing for Television from UCLA. Andrew grew up in Ann Arbor, and after living in Los Angeles for 10 years, in 2020 he moved with his wife and three children to Leland, where they live on a former cherry farm.

Jennifer Little holds a Masters Degree in Applied Theatre and has been teaching theatre for over 15 years at the secondary and higher education levels. She helped write the national standards for drama curriculum and developed anti-bullying workshops that traveled the tri-state area in public schools. She has helped write and direct several musicals and plays with Colleen Harris for summer and academic programs across the country.

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.

Melissa May is a performance arts instructor at the Old Town Playhouse and with Drama Kids International. Growing up in Traverse City, Melissa trained at Dance Arts Academy as a member of their elite competition team. She has nearly 3 decades of performance experience and 5 years as an educator. Some of her favorite shows she has choreographed are Mamma Mia, Lion King Kids, Singin’ In the Rain Jr, Aladdin Kids, and Madagascar Jr.

Shannon McCann, B.A.-Secondary Education, has taught at Grand Traverse Academy since 2010. She holds a teaching certificate with a biology endorsement.

Karen Nelson, M.A., has 30+ years in education and a DX endorsement. She is a 4th grade teacher at Eastern Elementary and was awarded first place in the Red Hot Best Teacher category in MyNorth.com. Karen is the Math Consultant/Teacher for NMC’s GRASP Reading & Math Program.

Rosemary Rokita, B.S., Business Administration. She took time away from the real world to spend three wonderful years in Japan where she team-taught English to junior high school students on one of the southern islands of Amakusa.

Elizabeth Sonnabend is a program coordinator for NMC Extended Educational Services and has over twenty years marketing experience working for various local companies in Northern Michigan and 10 years teaching Marketing for NMC.

Jackie Stremlow-Hansen, M.A.-Curriculum and Teaching, B.A.-Elementary Education, ZA endorsement for Early Childhood, has spent her career in lower elementary classrooms, and is currently a kindergarten teacher at Long Lake Elementary.

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.

Janine Winkler, B.S.-Elementary Education, teaches kindergarten through fifth graders at Immaculate Conception Elementary School's Science and Innovation Center. Janine holds an elementary and middle school science endorsement from Northern Michigan University and certificates from University of Michigan Pellston Biological Station's LEAD Science Education and Groundwater Education programs.