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Meet Our Instructors

Peter Ali — Flutist

Photo of flutist Peter AliPeter is a talented and self-taught Native flutist creating his music not from notes, but from spirit within so each performance is unique and special. He plays a variety of native flutes and shares their stories as well as stories of his rich ethnic heritage. His Father from Morocco is Berber and his Mother is of Yaqui Indian heritage as well as Spanish and Italian from Sonora Mexico. In the last 9 years he has taught workshops for Indian Education programs, Flute making class for Northwest Indian College at Tulalip and Lummi. In 2008 he had the opportunity to play for the Dali Lama on Children’s Day during the Seeds of Compassion tour. In 2009 was diagnosed with cancer, was able to overcome this and continue to share his music and stories for all ages and people.

Linda Walz — Master Gardener

Photo of Linda WalzLinda has been a Master Gardener since 1998. She has designed and planted gardens in Moses Lake, Mount Vernon and Anacortes.  Her education includes degrees in Elementary Education (Natural Science) and Zoology. She is an opinionated, ruthless gardener who learned tough love in the garden at her mother’s knee. Trees and shrubs can make her swoon; perennials can make her crazy when they get out of hand. Her furniture may never move, but the garden gets a new face every few years.

Bob Rock Home Brewing

Bob Rock is a partner at Skagit Valley Malting.  His work there includes testing and analysis of the malt they produce.  Part of that testing program is brewing test beer which provides an excellent assessment of the quality of the malt.  Coming from a long career in engineering and technical training as well as the brewing obsession that started at home, Bob shares his passion for good beer and the technical side of brewing at a practical and accessible level.

Liz Moncrief — Fiber Dyeing / Making Natural Body Care Products

Photo of Liz MoncriefLiz Moncrief is a recent retiree from the US Forest Service in Colorado, and just made the move to Washington along with her husband and Buddy the dog.  During her career she also maintained a small business of spinning, weaving, dyeing and fiber arts and has exhibited several pieces in Colorado and Wyoming art galleries. For the past 20 years she’s offered workshops and retreats in those venues in the Rocky Mountain States, including being a workshop presenter at the Estes Park Wool Fest, the largest gathering of spinners and weavers in the west. 

Having been so heavily involved in natural and utilitarian arts led her to investigate the use of botanicals and aromatics combined with natural kitchen ingredients to make fiber soaps, lotions and general body care products, so those areas of interest were added to her workshop portfolio 10 years ago.

The utilization of natural and sustaining materials is important in her work, and allows Liz and her students to play with a little bit of math and science on the side. 

Seth Holsinger — Fitness

Seth has been actively involved in the fitness industry since 2007. Seth worked at the local fire department as an EMT/Firefighter for three years. In 2013, Seth received a Bachelors degree from Western Washington University in Kinesiology with a focus in Physical Therapy. Currently, Seth practices as a Personal Trainer at the Bellingham Athletic Club and as an Aide at Performance Physical Therapy in Bellingham. Seth also coached wrestling for two years in his home town of Gig Harbor, WA. At SVC Seth teaches Cardiovascular Conditioning and Strength Training.  

Susan Deschenes — Martial Arts

Susan has been studying martial arts since 1991. In 1995 she received her black belt in Kajukenbo, 1998 world champion in sports jujitsu, 1999 Oregon State golden gloves and received her second degree black belt in 2000. She owned and instructed a cardio kickboxing studio for almost four years in Bellingham, WA and has been a full time Physical Education teacher at SVC since 1998. She has a passion for teaching self-defense to children and women.

Eileen Winton — Scrapbooking

Hi, my name is Eileen Winton.  I am a Mom of 2 beautiful daughters, wife of an amazingly funny husband, and crafty creative friend to everyone I come in contact with.  I have been scrapbooking and stamping for over 17 years and just can’t get enough of it.  I am always trying to find new techniques, mediums, and new ideas to take my scrapbooking to a higher level. My passion for scrapbooking came from the love of photography and incentive to share with people my photos along with the creative ways in with to display them.  I love to teach how easy, fast, and fun the art of scrapbooking can be.  I am a graduate of Skagit Valley College and have benefited greatly from the experiences and instruction, it is amazing to see the abundance of life SVC can cultivate. 

Sue Roberts — Art

Sue Roberts has been a professional studio artist working in ceramic and metal sculpture for over 25 years. Her work has been displayed in museum shows and galleries across the United States and in Japan, and is in numerous private collections throughout the country. Her work was featured in the 1998 Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog. In 2002 she received an artist residency at Penland School of Crafts, and in 2012 was an Artists Trust Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) recipient.

Sue currently teaches a variety of clay and metal workshops and classes at her studio on Guemes Island.

Cindy Shebley — eBay

Cindy Shebley is an eBay Certified Business Consultant, Education Specialist and author who teaches throughout the Northwest. Cindy’s eBay career started in the late 1990’s as a way to liquidate inventory from her “bricks and mortar” store.  Today, Cindy is an eBay Top Rated Seller with makes a full time income selling goods online. Cindy is the author of “Easy Auction Photography” and co-author of "The eBay Marketing Bible" More information about her can be found at www.clovercity.com

Alan Sanders — Photography and Computer Technology

Alan has been making photographs since the 70's and teaching photography since the 80's. He has taught at the University of Alaska, Anchorage and Western Washington University. Having previously owned a commercial photography business specializing in advertising and public relations, he now concentrates on fine art photography. His photographs have been in many group as well as one person shows. He has work in the permanent collections of several museums as well as many private collections. Alan currently teaches workshops at WCC and Skagit Valley College and is a digital imaging specialist at Quicksilver Photo Lab in Bellingham.

Yasmare Gonzalez — Cuban Dance

Cuban born and raised, Yasmare Gonzalez Pi, is a dancer who has moved to Bellingham, Washington in 2013 from Havana, Cuba.  With Cuba’s culture so deeply rooted in music, and dance everywhere one turns, it’s no surprise that Yasmare was drawn at an early age to the rhythms around him and started dancing at the age of 16. He started learning in the streets and was soon discovered and taken under the wings of some of the most respected dancers in Havana with whom he learned such dance styles as Salsa Casino, Son, Rumba, Cha Cha Cha, and Rueda. He soon started dancing professionally with various groups in Cuba including Ache Caribeño and participated as an assistant instructor in several editions of Cuba’s most renowned dance event, Baile en Cuba. In 2011 he co-founded his own dance group in Havana, Pasion Latina.  Up until the time he moved to the U.S., he worked with CNSEA (Centro Nacional d’ Superacion Para La Enseñanza Artistica Ministerio de Cultura) giving dance instruction of popular Cuban dance.

Now that he is here in the Pacific Northwest, Yasmare wants to continue sharing his knowledge and passion for Cuban dance.  He believes Cuba itself is a great “school” of dance and music and he wants to share his knowledge and experience with anyone with an interest to learn.  The unique blend of traditional dance methods infused with the “sabor” from the streets is what sets Yasmare’s style apart from the usual. He remembers well what it feels like to be a student and he strives to teach in an approachable style. His goal is that his students leave feeling satisfied and more importantly that they have fun, because that is what dancing is all about, having fun and being able to have an outlet to artistically express oneself.

Renee Sherrer — Sewing

I’ve been working with textiles for more years than I can remember. I first started sewing when I came home from second grade one day to find that my mother had bought a brand-new sewing machine. I was enchanted with it! I had already learned embroidery and hand sewing. But I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that machine!

Many, many years later and I still can’t stay away from my sewing machine. It’s a wonderful creative tool which I’ve used to sew wedding dresses, evening wear, curtains, costumes...you name it, I’ve made it. I even sewed my way through graduate school, earning my MFA in Textiles.

I’ve worked in fashion for many years; boutiques (created and owned a beautiful boutique in Carmel-by-the-Sea), worked as a buyer, a rep, a designer and a manufacturer of women’s clothing and accessories. I’ve taught fashion design classes, pattern making, sewing, and many other classes involved with fashion and sewing.

I’d love to share my expertise with you. Learning to sew can free you to create whatever you can imagine. You have the ideas...now get the skills!

Robert Laughlin — Piano

Robert Laughlin has taught his unique piano workshops to over 25,000 adults over his 30 year career. Drawing experience from his many years as a professional piano player, Robert enthusiastically shares his insider knowledge with his students.  He’s the author of more than a dozen method books, and his system has been used by over 300 piano teachers nation wide. Several of his books have been translated into German. Robert still performs on piano and guitar. He holds a degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Beth Rosenzweig — Homeschool Parent Qualifying Course

Beth has been an active member of the homeschooling community in Washington State for over 25 years.  She successfully homeschooled her two youngest children from birth to college entrance and has been the instructor for the HOMESCHOOL PARENT QUALIFYING COURSE since 1994.  She is a past Chair of the Washington Homeschool Organization and has presented workshops on a variety of homeschooling topics at local libraries, homeschool support group meetings and conventions.  She has an M.Ed. degree from the University of Washington and has provided academic assessments for homeschoolers since 1986.  She continues to be an advocate and encourager for families who choose this educational option for their children.

Jay Steven Tate Music Studio

Jay Steven Tate, has recorded and performed in every major music city in the U.S. Early in Mr. Tate's career, he found himself recording overdubs at Don Costa Studios in Los Angeles. That recording session was then finished at the famed Capitol Recording Studios in Hollywood California. As a musician and session player Mr.Tate has recorded and engineered sessions in Nashville Tennessee, New York City, Atlanta Georgia, Portland Oregon and Seattle Washington. Mr.Tate has worked with all forms of recording media including Ampex 3 Track analog tape machines with valve (tube) channel preamps to the latest digital format and home studios. Jay Steven Tate lives and works in Bellingham, WA as a guitar and percussion repair technician with a shop inside of Mojo Music Discount. Steven can be reached at Mojo Music Discount. 360-671-0614 or info@mojomusicdiscount.com

Julie Guay, MBA — Jewelry

Julie has been involved with Blue Skies for Children for several years and was previously on the Board of Directors. She holds a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), a Grad School Certification in Project Management, and a B.S. in Organizational Management.

She was previously employed as Vice President of Administration for Neptune Management Corporation where she oversaw 26 administrative offices in 11 states.  Prior to that, Julie was employed as a Business Development Program Manager for Olympic Health/Sterling Life for 8 years in Bellingham, WA.  She and her husband own a local property investment and residential management company, Pacific Bay Properties.  Julie also owns Jules & Co., an artisan jewelry design business, and Whatcom Bookkeeping and Notary Services.

Julie is active in the community, and has been a long-standing member of Whatcom Women in Business (WWIB). She serves on the Executive Board of WWIB as Secretary.  She is also an executive board member for local non-profit The Whatcom Dream, an active member of Women Sharing Hope, and the Whatcom/Bellingham Chamber of Commerce.   She has volunteered with the Meridian School District, Meridian PTA, Meridian FFA board, and has volunteered at WWU’s History Day as a judge.  Julie has taught Junior Achievement courses and previously served for several years on the board for Marianne's House.

She and her husband, Steve, enjoy traveling, golf, and spending time with their son, Zach.

Lois V. Harris — Children's Author

Lois V. Harris grew up in Brooklyn, New York and often spent Saturday afternoons at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The artwork from around the world fascinated her. Her family moved to Seattle, Washington when she was a teenager. After she married and had children, Lois enjoyed introducing them to the magical world of books at her neighborhood library. Meanwhile, she pursued her dream to write for children. In 1986 Lois earned a B.A. in English in the Creative Writing track from the University of Washington. Over the following years, she continued learning about children's literature while attending conferences as a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators.

Lois writes to inspire children to follow their dreams. Her books are, Mary Cassatt: Impressionist Painter; award-winning Charlie Russell, Tale-Telling Cowboy Artist and her newest, Maxfield Parrish: Painter of Magical Make-Believe. Pelican Publishing Co. has published all of Lois' books.

Lois Harris lives with her family in Anacortes in the northwest corner of Washington State. When not writing, you might find her on their boat watching for whales in the nearby beautiful San Juan Islands or Canada.

Karen Mullen — Photography

Karen Mullen is a Certified Professional Photographer and runs a portrait photography and a photo tour business in Lynden, Wash. Karen began photography in 1983 after graduating from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She loves teaching as much as she loves photography, and thoroughly enjoys her classes at Skagit Valley College. Karen takes classes herself every year through both the Professional Photographers of America and the Professional Photographers of Washington, making sure that she is always learning and staying up to date with the ever-changing field of photography and computer imaging. At SVC, Karen teaches photography, Photoshop Elements, and leads photo safaris.

Giuliana Sica — Italian Language

Giuliana Sica was born in Siena, Italy. She calls Whidbey Island, Washington, home where she settled in 2001 after globetrotting the world teaching Italian in exotic places as far off as Japan. Giuliana holds a Classic Italian Literature and Philosophy degree with a minor in English from the University of Pisa. She speaks fluent Spanish, has forgotten most of her French, and holds tightly to her Japanese, mostly by eating sushi every chance she gets. She is a published author. She currently teaches Italian for Skagit Valley College and Rosetta Stone. She is a Contributing Editor for Allrecipes.it and and an Italian Ad Rater for Google. She shares a yellow cottage on the island with her husband, four cats, a vegetable garden, and a fig tree named Federico.

Mike Murdock — Multimedia and Web Design

Mike Murdock is an adjunct instructor in the MIT Department. He currently teaches MIT 260 - Search Engine Optimization and MIT 270 - CMS and Blogging Fundamentals.  He also leads seminars in WordPress, Adobe Dreamweaver and Photoshop. Prior to becoming an instructor for the MIT Department, Mike served as an Advisory Committee Member for the MIT Department.

Mike has an ATA in Multimedia and Interactive Technology and a BA in English Literature.  He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and was honored with the 2006 Outstanding Student Award from the MIT Department at Skagit Valley College. Mike presently holds the position of student graphic artist and Web designer at SVC.

Mike also runs a small Web and graphic design business and contracts pro-bono for various non-profits such as KSVR-FM.

Bruce L. Freet — Fly Fishing and Tying

Bruce has a B.A. degree from San Diego State University with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and education, and a M.S. degree from Colorado State University in Ecology.  He retired from the National Park Service in 2002 after 32 years of service as a park ranger and natural resource manager working in eight NPS areas throughout the country.  He has been on the Board of Directors for the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group and a member of the Fidalgo Fly Fishers for more than 12 years.  He has had the passion for fly fishing since being a teenager, and has taught the ‘Introduction to Fly Fishing’ and ‘Fly Tying’ courses at Skagit Valley College since 2005.

ReBecca Shotton — Small Business Workshops

Photo of ReBecca ShottonReBecca Shotton, Head Honcho - Small Business Specialties ReBecca has been a Small Business Owner since 2005 and also has over 15 years of experience working for government agencies, private sector, and business owners. Her experience along with her Certification as a Professional Life Coach have honed her skills in problem solving, planning, and implementation of strategies that create effective changes.

ReBecca has a passion for helping people, and getting to see them be successful. She and her husband like hiking in the Skagit area, biking, rock climbing, and kayaking. She enjoys learning new things, antiquing, fossil hunting, doing Zetangle(r),animals, "up cycling" furniture, amateur photography, and day dreaming about future interior decor.

Jean Behnke — Art

Photo of Jean BehnkeJean is a graduate of Cornish College in sculpture and holds an MFA in ceramics from the University of Texas in San Antonio. She has exhibited nationally for over 35 years and her work has been reviewed in Artweek and Art in America. Following a teaching position at San Antonio College, Jean returned to her native Northwest to live and work. Solo exhibitions include the Kohler House in San Antonio, Portland's Art Gym at Marylhurst College, Women & Their Work Gallery in Austin and Gallery Cygnus in La Conner. Among others, Behnke's work has been included at CoCA, the Tacoma Museum of Art, Hunt Gallery, Islands Museum of Art, Anchor art space, Lower Columbia College and WSU Tri-Cities and Smith and Vallee Gallery.

Jean founded Anchor art space in 2008, an exhibition project which successfully transitioned to a group project in 2012. Behnke served on the Cornish Alumni Board, 911 Media Arts Center Board, currently the Anchor Board and is a member of the La Conner Arts Commission. Behnke offers workshops and classes in art at SVC and works in her La Conner studio making sculpture and large format drawings and prints. www.jeancbehnke.com

Bob Mitchell — Glass Art

Photo of Bob MitchellBob Mitchell, with almost four decades in Glass, has become a mature technician, craftsman, and sought after instructor. Being awarded both the prestigious Christine McAuliffe Excellence in Teaching award and the Snohomish County Artist of the Year award made 2000 his most memorable year. Bob, being a solid "journey-man artist", derives passion by having the opportunity to promote the craft of glass through the Community Education Program at Skagit Valley College. His journey in the art community can be summarized by a phrase from an old Blues song:"I live the life I love, I love the life I live".

Stephen Murphy — Landscaping/Propagation

Stephen Murphy has a B.A. in Business and a M.B.A. in Labor Relations from the University of Portland, in Oregon. He has volunteered hundreds of hours at Fort Vancouver’s National Historical Site Heritage Garden in Vancouver, Washington. At the Turtle Island Resort in Fuji, Stephen put an unproductive garden back into production to optimize garden utility, trained garden staff and redid the composting operation.

Stephen is a skilled instructor at the Skagit Valley College greenhouse where he provides detailed hands on instruction in plant propagation and landscape design. As a horticulturist, his experience of 15 years is extensive in light pruning, plant propagation, landscaping and composting operations.

Michele Cooper — Watercolor

Michele Cooper has been teaching watercolor for over 30 years in the Pacific Northwest. She recently received her 20 year certificate for SVC. Her work is featured in "The Ultimate Guide to Painting from Photographs" and Gary Greene's "Artists' Photo Reference: Buildings and Barns", both published by North Light Books.

Michele is a signature member of the Northwest Watercolor Society, Women Painters of Washington and President Emeritus of National Collage Society. She has led workshops in the US, Canada and Europe. Her work is in collections throughout the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe.

Her diversity of work includes marine subjects, still life, figures and landscape. She has been making art and learning to see with an artist's eye all her life. "Sargent, Homer, Renoir and most of the Impressionists are my chosen mentors. I am awed by their vision and work to reach even an approximation of their ability." Watercolor and gouache followed her original work in oil and acrylic. "My oils beckon from a corner of the studio, and I do paint with them en plein air in good weather, but I never seem to get past the open palette of watercolors on my painting table."

When not teaching, painting or traveling, Michele resides in Marysville with her husband. The creative environment of her large custom studio is just steps away.

Lisa Foster — Voice Overs

Lisa Foster's voice over career has been around for awhile. Her broadcasting and voice over experience began in in little ol' Sacramento, CA back in 1991. She was the weekend traffic reporter on Rush Limbaugh's flagship station, KFBK. Lisa moved her radio career to Seattle in 1992 where she was the traffic reporter that Seattle commuters relied upon on more than 14 different radio and TV stations. She started really learning the radio ropes on Pat Cashman's Morning Show on KING 1090 that same year.

Lisa created more than 6 different "personas" on a variety of Seattle radio stations in the early 90′s, including "Kendall Elliott" on 107.7 The END, "Danielle Clark" on KJR, "Lisa Hunter" on 97.3 KBSG, and "Christine Russell" on KISW. She teamed up with Cashman in 1996 to co-host his morning talk radio show on 100.7 The BUZZ, and again on KOMO AM 1000 in 1999. She went on to co-host the popular morning drive radio show "The Mitch & Lisa Show" on KLSY's MIX 92.5. In addition to her radio work, Lisa has been the voice for many well-known companies, including video games, corporate training, and TV and radio ads.

Lisa began training and coaching emerging voice over talent in 2007, and is one of the best voice over coaches around. Her Creative Director skills really shine in the production booth, and she has produced and directed hundreds of audio projects in major cities across the U.S.

She has also done numerous TV appearances, including being named Seattle KING 5 Evening Magazine's Best of Western Washington's Most Eligible Bachelorette, guest spots on the popular "Almost Live!" show, as well as hosting the CBS Survivor cast search and KIRO TV's "Star Search".

She has also written and performed stand-up comedy and has hosted many charity events and auctions in the Seattle area. Lisa Foster can also be heard on the popular podcast "Peculiar Podcast with Pat Cashman and Lisa Foster" that debuted in January 2012.

Bob Bryan — Master Gardener

 Bob studied electrical engineering as an undergraduate and pursued graduate studies in physiological psychology, experimental biology and biochemistry. He was on the biology faculty of the University of California, San Diego for 10 years and then left academia to work in biotechnology startups where he developed medical tests, cancer drugs, and vaccines.

 Bob retired to Camano Island where he cares for an orchard and gardens that have grown too large.

Jane Billinghurst — Master Gardener

Jane has been a WSU Skagit County Extension Master Gardener since 2005 and was named Master Gardener of the Year for Washington State in 2012. She is active in both the local and statewide Master Gardener programs.

She writes “Ask the Master Gardener” columns published in the Skagit Valley Herald, contributes to a monthly Master Gardener segment on the Skagit Valley College radio station, KSVR, and gives presentations about gardening across the state.

 Jane grew up in England and spent many happy childhood weekends visiting the gardens of historic country houses. She has a particular interest in garden history and in how gardening practices impact the health of Puget Sound. Jane has a degree in German and Philosophy from Oxford University. She is the author of six illustrated non-fiction books, including an anthology, The Armchair Book of Gardens, described by the Chicago Tribune as “a bouquet of garden prose to swoon over.” She lives and gardens in Anacortes.

Diana Wisen — Master Gardener

Diana has been a WSU Skagit County Extension Master Gardener since 1991. She loves to teach and is in her 26th year as a Camp Fire Day Camp director. Her focus in the Master Gardener program is training, and public outreach and education. She organizes public education events and Master Gardeners who speak to community groups. Her favorite gardening tasks are weeding, grooming, and pruning. Diana has a cottage garden in Mount Vernon and manages the family farm on Shaw Island.

Greg Tate — Clay Workshops / Calligraphy

Greg Tate started out as a painter. Over the years he has been amazed at how his paintings have influenced his ceramic work, and ceramics have influenced his paintings.

As a child growing up in Eastern Oregon on the Columbia River and traveling in Ireland, he has always been fascinated with texture of the rock formations and the undulation of the land against the skyline. This was the inspiration for his landscape cup, container and platter series. By using contrast of textures and colors, Greg captured the image of deep space or “landscape perspective”.  He especially likes the idea of using tactile, functional objects in a nonfunctional way.

Constance Mollerstuen — Heal Your Life

Constance Mollerstuen was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Being inspired to follow her life passion of helping people she has created two businesses Universal Harmony Holistic Healing and Inspired by Love. She is one of the six Licensed Heal Your Life Teachers in the State who has been trained to teach the work of Louise L. Hay, celebrated author, publisher and pioneer of the self help movement. Constance teaches a variety of workshops and sponsors retreats all over the world. She is also a Certified Holistic Health & Wellness Coach and works with individuals and businesses to help them achieve life balance and to overcome obstacles blocking them from attaining success.

Our relationships are the mirrors to our soul and our words and thoughts create our life experiences as an Ordained Minister Constance enjoys creating unique one of kind ceremonies for couples and providing pre-wedding coaching.

She also enjoys writing and has co-authored an inspirational book called “Move Towards Love” with 24 other authors which will be due out in the spring 2014. In her spare time she loves to make jewelry, try new recipes, walk on the beach, travel and spend time with her family and friends. Constance is married and has six children and ten grandchildren with two more on the way.

Edward Hunter — Computer Technology

Ed is retired from the United States Navy. He was an Aviation Electronics Technician working on 5 EA6B aircraft.

Ed received his Bachelors in Physical Science at Midland Lutheran College in Nebraska.  After retiring from the Navy, Ed received his Associates Degree in Computer Information Systems from Skagit Valley College, and his Master Degree in Computer Information Systems from the University of Phoenix.

Ed has been teaching computer related subjects for 18 years.

His other interests include scroll sawing, gardening, and spending time with his quilting wife, Mary. He loves playing with his two Chihuahuas (Indy and Freckles) and two cats (Ana and Jones). 

Mike Prindle — Flagging

Born and raised in Minnesota, Mike Prindle has proudly served in the U.S. Navy for over 20 years; of which ten were as an instructor. Mike has been teaching Flagging at Skagit Valley College for over 20 years.

Bob Malphrus Human Services