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Mission Statement

About Us

Northern California School of the Arts provides holistic, individualized, and professional theater arts training programs, supporting young artists from diverse communities to create, express, and participate in theater arts educational opportunities. Through arts engagement, students are empowered to embrace social-emotional learning strategies and advocacy while creating a positive mindset towards themselves and their community.

Our Values & Objectives

Key Principles

NorCal School of the Arts promotes these principles through a school and community outreach program and curriculum that includes:

  • Professional Actor Training for Stage and Screen
  • Premier and regional performance opportunities
  • Leadership and Business Skills training
  • After-school and in-school theatre arts classes and performance opportunities
  • College Counseling & Career Readiness
  • Physical and Mental Wellness
  • Life Balance

EMBRACING UNIQUENESS

NorCal School of the Arts is committed to advocating for inclusion and equity to better create and engage diverse students and audiences for the purpose of educating and illuminating the beauty of our diverse humanity.

OVERALL OBJECTIVES

NorCal School of the Arts is committed to providing theater art students:

  • Technical and artistic knowledge of theater arts: Stage, TV, & Film
  • A nurturing, safe, and mentally healthy environment that enhances the ability to find one’s artistic potential
  • Access to quality artistic and creative opportunities
  • A greater ability to self-reflect with confidence towards making life choices and embracing personal growth
  • Leadership and business development skills to create expanded and more fulfilling job opportunities
  • A multi-generational artistic community to embrace the value of mentoring while recognizing the importance of everyone’s unique talents
  • Opportunity to embrace and celebrate diversity and differences through theater

Meet Our Staff

Michele Hillen-Noufer

Executive Director

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Michele Hillen-Noufer

Executive Director

Michele Hillen-Noufer, M.Ed., AEA, SAG is the Executive Director for NorCal School of the Arts. She is a member of the Actors' Equity Association and SAG/AFTRA and has a master's degree in education. Michele worked as a professional actor for over 25 years doing theatre, film, and television across the country and internationally. She has directed, taught, and choreographed professional theatre and theatre for young people. Michele has a passion for helping young people achieve their goals in the performing arts as well as providing theatre arts education to schools, including arts integration opportunities for students with learning differences. Michele is an arts integration specialist and keeps her skills current by teaching at NorCal and local elementary schools and providing workshops and professional development opportunities for conferences and in-services for educators. She has been a member of the Sacramento State University’s Academic Talent Search faculty since 2012. For 15 years, Michele grew STC School of the Arts and created several programs while training many young theatre makers, storytellers, and amazing humans who will go on to make their mark in the arts field and beyond. Michele is a founding board member for SARA, the Sacramento Alliance for Regional Arts, whose mission is to advocate for the regional arts sector of the Sacramento area. Michele is currently a faculty member of the Theatre & Dance Department at California State University, Sacramento.

Vicki Johnson

Director of College Admissions & Leadership Institute

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Vicki Johnson

Director of College Admissions & Leadership Institute

As the director of the NorCal School of the Arts College and Career Counseling and the Leadership Institute programs, Vicki Johnson offers a holistic approach that embraces each student's uniqueness and supports their efforts to find their potential within the context of mental wellness. As a certified independent college counselor with 15\+ years of college admissions and career counseling experience, she has developed expertise in the following areas: Theatre & Film, STEM, Entrepreneurship, and Athletic pursuits and is also committed to finding the best options for students with learning differences and disabilities. As a member of IECA, NACAC & WACAC, Vicki continually keeps up with best practices and trends, leading her to provide the optimal service she offers all of her students. Vicki also runs the Leadership Institute, a high school program that focuses on personal development and community engagement to provide students with a multitude of skills: leadership, business, communication, self-advocacy and community advocacy.

Taylor Burris

Performing Arts Corps Director

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Taylor Burris

Performing Arts Corps Director

Taylor is a graduate of Ball State University with a degree in acting. After college, she moved to Chicago to study Improvisation and sketch comedy at the famed Second CIty and IO. After performing in Chicago, she was cast on the mainstage at Improv Asylum in Boston, MA. She performed, wrote, and taught in Boston for almost 3 years after which she moved to Los Angeles. She performed in both theatre and film in LA for three years as well as studying at Upright Citizens Brigade. Taylor also performed at The Comedy Central Stage in LA and at the PIT in New York City. She has been teaching dance, improv, and theatre for over a decade in every city you can think of! She has settled in Northern California, where she has been a teaching artist for the past 5 years.

Michael Ortiz

Program Manager, School Outreach / Teaching Artist

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Michael Ortiz

Program Manager, School Outreach / Teaching Artist

A native of Berkeley, CA, Michael Ortiz is a classical pianist, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, teacher, and actor. Having focused heavily on Theater Arts and Music from a young age, he earned his B.A. in Dramatic Art from University of California, Davis in 2006. He then served for five years as an educator in Title I public schools in the East Bay while earning an M.A. in Education. Over the last 23 years, he has composed, performed and recorded a wide variety of original compositions ranging from classical to latin jazz to country rock, and his previous theatrical credits include West Side Story (Bernardo), Death of a Salesman (Stanley), Fiddler on the Roof (Perchik), and Susannah Martin’s The Faith Project (Darius). His current work is centered on coaching the Teaching Artists of NorCal School of the Arts in sound Educational Theory and Practice, and on blending Social-Emotional learning strategies and Mindfulness into Arts Education.

Emilee Chew-Bien Mercado

After School Program Manager, Choreographer

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Emilee Chew-Bien Mercado

After School Program Manager, Choreographer

Emilee is a full-time dancer, choreographer, and instructor from Sacramento, CA. Her movement is predominantly informed by jazz, hip-hop, and modern-contemporary. She initially discovered her love and appreciation for dance while going through Laguna Creek High School's dance program, Infinite Motion Dance Company. Since then, she has had the privilege to dance for Greathouse of Dance (2010-2013), Red Bucket Dance Theater (2011-2012), The CSU Sacramento Dance Department (2011-2013), as well as several local hip-hop competition crews. Her biggest passion lies in providing opportunities for the youth in the community. Emilee has worked with organizations such as O.N.L.Y. All-styles (2012-2014), Night Walker Sessions (2019), and Hawkins School of Performing Arts (2016-present) as an event producer and/or an event coordinator. She has also had the opportunity to connect with the youth of local schools through various independent outreach programs (2016-present) including CLARA Studios for the Performing Arts (2019-present). In 2013, Emilee co-founded TwoPoint4 Dance Theater alongside their artistic director, Tony Nguyen, and continues to remain an active mover in the company. She is also currently the director of Hawkins' hip-hop program in Folsom, CA. In her free time, Emilee enjoys traveling the world with her husband, working on DIY projects, and taking dance classes.

Kristen Deweygreen

Classes & Camps Director/Teaching Artist

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Kristen Deweygreen

Classes & Camps Director/Teaching Artist

Kristen Deweygreen is originally from New York and has a Bachelor of Science in theater. Dewey has worked and taught in theaters and schools in New York, Florida, North Carolina, and now in California. They have been running the NorCal camp and classes program since the Summer of 2021 and are so excited to see what the future holds! Recently they have directed NorCal's productions of Newsies Jr., A Wrinkle in Time, and Matilda Jr. Passionately, Dewey has been teaching private acting lessons, workshops, and youth productions for over 10 years along with directing and acting in various productions. Dewey is very enthusiastic about theater education and believes everyone benefits from learning how to use and honor their creative side. "Acting and living with empathy are key. Be proud of yourself and each other."

Fred Lamora

Technical Director

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Fred Lamora

Technical Director

Fred Lamora, M.Ed., is the Technical Director for the NorCal School of the Arts. Fred worked for 35 years as a teacher, coach and administrator before retiring in 2020. He was involved in creating new programs for students and integrating technology to help broaden the learning environment for students. He served as the Director of Instruction and later the Director of Student Services for the Visions In Education Charter School where he designed and led many of the academic, curricular and student support programs. He was recognized as the Casa Roble Teacher of the Year ten times, a San Juan USD Distinguished Educator four times, Sacramento Bee Coach of the Year, and was the James Madison Fellow for the State of California in 1996. He was a frequent presenter at statewide conferences and symposiums on the subject of personalizing learning for students. He is the co-founder of UnderstandingSchools.com, a research and analysis think-tank that focuses on public education policy and practice. With his daughter’s developing interest in musical theatre, Fred switched his interests to set design. An Elly Award winning set designer, Fred now has designed and produced sets for over 30 shows. You will have seen his work in local high schools, regional productions, dance recitals and most recently for the NorCal School of the Arts productions of Matilda, Annie, A Wrinkle in Time and Lion King Jr. He looks forward to his job of introducing new performers to theater with Norcal’s partnerships with local schools and school districts.

Caylen Michels

Administrative Coordinator / Stage Manager / Teaching Artist

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Caylen Michels

Administrative Coordinator / Stage Manager / Teaching Artist

Caylen Michels is a recent graduate of Winthrop University with a BA in Theatre Performance. Caylen moved to Sacramento in 2019 to work with B Street Theatre and Sacramento Theatre Company serving as an education intern. At the beginning of the pandemic she moved back to South Carolina to build a theatre program at a local Title 1 middle school. Caylen is a passionate teaching artist because she believes that theatre arts makes a difference to the lives of those who read, create, perform and observe it.

Sarah Walter

Administrative Assistant

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Sarah Walter

Administrative Assistant

Sarah Walter is a sophomore Marketing major at Cosumnes River College planning on transferring to California State University - Sacramento next year. She is a graduate of Sacramento Theatre Company's Young Professionals Conservatory, where she co-event chaired the annual Curtains Up! Arts Fundraiser (her year raised $90,000 for arts education). In her free time, Sarah enjoys hiking, reading thriller novels, and road tripping. She is a proud member of Alpha Chi Omega.

Dennis Senguin

Theatre Production Manager

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Dennis Senguin

Theatre Production Manager

Dennis Seguin has over twenty years’ worth of experience in costuming. While living in Reno, NV he aided the Reno Dance Company, Divas on the Run (a local cabaret group), as well as local youth groups with his talents. After moving to the Sacramento area, Dennis lent his talents to local pageant performers, including most recently a contestant in the 2023 Miss California Pageant, as well as the local Cosplayer Community. In 2018 Dennis began his work with the Nor-Cal School of the Arts. A sampling of his work was on display in productions of “Aladdin”, “The Lion King”, “Matilda”, “Willy Wonka”, most recently “The Little Mermaid”, and a production of “Newsies” in the near future.

Julia Flores

Grants Manager & Teaching Artist

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Julia Flores

Grants Manager & Teaching Artist

Julia Flores is a young theatre generalist with a passion for both the onstage and offstage aspects for live performance. Her theatre education has been extensive, learning and participating in theatre classes ranging from stagecraft to advanced acting courses. She earns her BA in Theater from CSU Sacramento in December 2021. Julia has participated in numerous shows, both onstage and offstage. Onstage performances include The Rocky Horror Show, Little Red Riding Hood, On the Razzle, and more. She has also worked behind the scenes as an assistant costume designer for Dance Nation and lead costume designer for The Theatre Zone.

Antonio Hernandez

Teaching Artist

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Antonio Hernandez

Teaching Artist

Antonio Hernandez is a sophomore at CSUS and a graduate of Horizon Charter Schools. He is an ATS scholar and participated in STC’s Young Professionals Conservatory from 2017-2020. Favorite roles include Second Man, Kiss Me Kate (YPC); Antonio, Much Ado About Nothing (YPC); Ben Weatherstaff, The Secret Garden (YPC); Paris, Romeo and Juliet (YPC); Steward, Into the Woods (YPC); and most recently, Oscar, Sweat (CSUS), in which he was blessed to be nominated for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region 7 Irene Ryan’s award. His interests and hobbies include acting, singing, writing, soccer, and helping others. Antonio hopes that the students at NorCal SOTA, enjoy, create, and find their talent that they were given to share with the world.

Dorothea Bonneau

Teaching Artist

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Dorothea Bonneau

Teaching Artist

Dorothea (Dottie) Bonneau is an award-winning novelist, produced playwright, andoptioned screenwriter. She holds a B.A. in speech and drama and an M.A. in interpersonal communication. She has directed and produced numerous plays, including No Exit, Our Town, Grease, The Sound of Music, and Westside Story. She has also facilitated numerous communications, theater arts, and creative writing workshops in such venues as The Davis Arts Center, Yolo County Juvenile Hall, U.C. Davis, U.C. San Diego and The University of Phoenix. One of her greatest pleasures has been teaching dramatic arts to children and adults where she has witnessed the power of theater to help people of all ages actualize their creative gifts, learn to engage in mutually empowering relationships, deepen empathy, create art, and develop self-esteem on and off stage. Accolades from teachers, psychologists, social workers, parents, and participants confirm the power of drama to change lives is not hyperbole. Dorothea’s recent project was the publication of her historical fiction novel, Once in a Blood Moon. Helping people to break down barriers has been her lifelong mission. So, she was thrilled when the Kirkus reviewer wrote, “The author elegantly articulates the protagonist’s precarious position between white and black society. Overall, this novel explores issues of equality and personal freedom in thought-provoking ways. Sharp writing, an original plot, and a strong female protagonist make for an engrossing read.” The audio book, which will come out in December, 2021, features the music of The Chevalier de Saint Georges, a French/African composer who was a contemporary of Mozart.

Elaine Lenae Douglas

Teaching Artist

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Elaine Lenae Douglas

Teaching Artist

Elaine Lenae Douglas has been performing for many theater companies in Sacramento and other nearby areas for over 20 years. She has been a part of the Celebration Arts Family for over 10 years. She was first a resident actress and is currently a member of the executive board. Ms. Douglas’ first stage production at Celebration Arts was in 2007 performing in James Baldwin’s classic, Amen Corner, in a role she later reprised in the 2017 production of the show. When Celebration Arts opened A Raisin in the Sun in February 2018 at their new location, Ms. Douglas was the assistant director. Elaine Douglas is a graduate from the University of California Berkeley with a double major in sociology and ethnic studies. She later obtained a teaching and administrative services credential from California State University, where she studied theater arts as a minor. She is currently working on a certification in theater for young audiences at Cosumnes River College. She went on to earn a master's degree in education focused on integrating the arts into the curriculum. Retired as the principal of Creative Connections Arts Academy, Ms. Douglas remains involved in theater arts as a performing artist and teaching artist with Sacramento Theater Company. She is the Drama Ministry Leader at the New Home Missionary Baptist Church, an auxiliary that ministers religious and outreach presentations to other churches and community organizations. Ms. Douglas is a life-long learner who believes that theater arts is the mirror of society. She uses theater as her most valuable teaching tool to inspire students through drama, movement, and music to create artistic reflections of the world in which we live.

Reylina Curtis

Teaching Artist

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Reylina Curtis

Teaching Artist

Reylina Curtis is a college student who has been dancing since she was 3 years old in a variety of styles including lyrical, jazz, ballet and especially hip hop. She grew up loving 1990s and 2000s hip hop. Dance really helped her break out of her shell! Reylina was the president of the Command Dance Crew at her high school and performed at school rallies and in dance shows. She also is a part of dance crews such as Sac Modern and Boogie Monstarz. Reylina loves to dance and cannot wait to dance with NorCal students! She truly believes that dance is another language and through movement we can express how we feel. That’s why she loves dance so much!

Kevin B. Johnson

Teaching Artist

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Kevin B. Johnson

Teaching Artist

Kevin B. Johnson (aka K' Von Blakemore-Johnson) is an Equity actor, singer, dancer, director, and visual artist. He has worked in theatre as well as displayed his art in Indiana; Memphis, TN; San Francisco, CA; Sacramento, CA; Whitfield, NH; and Lincolnshire, England. Theaters he has worked at include Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis, Indiana Repertory Theatre, The Weathervane Summer Stock Theatre, No Exit Theatre of San Francisco, and No Exit Productions in Indianapolis. He currently serves on the board of Errant Phoenix. He was last seen in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Marin Shakespeare Company. He has also worked with Bay Area Children's Theatre in Beautiful Oops! He teaches theatre with Christian Youth Theatre in Sacramento, and before his relocation, he taught with the Indianapolis chapter. He has taught theatre for over 30 years. He is excited to bring his skills with this collaboration with the Northern California School of the Arts.

Macy Salcedo

Teaching Artist

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Macy Salcedo

Teaching Artist

Macy Salcedo is currently in her fourth year as a theatre major at Sacramento State. She started in the performing arts when she was just 5 years old. She did competitive dance for 5 years and then started focusing on theatre. She has been in 12 productions ranging from the age of 5 to a virtual production just last year. She has also directed two productions, one in high school as a student director. The other was a production of her summer acting class in 2019, which she taught for 6 weeks.

Maurisha Dean

Teaching Artist

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Maurisha Dean

Teaching Artist

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Maurisha has aspired to become a professional actress ever since the age of 6. The Cleveland School of the Arts Alumni has fulfilled her dream in becoming just that. She has performed in all the theatres in the greater Cleveland area. Some of these theatres include Dobama Theatre, Karamu House, and Tony award winning Cleveland Playhouse. She has also had her bid in stage managing, and co-directing performances. You may have seen her on-screen roles which includes short film, The Hellsworth Haunting, original shorts in the annual Fusion Fest, "50 father's" movie, the web series "Upstairs" and the classic television series "Awesome Adventures with Mystro Clark". With a bachelor's degree from Cleveland State University, she has begun to combine her passion for the theatre arts, music, psychology, and education. She continues to fall in love with art every day as she is multifaceted when it comes to art. Her love for dancing, singing, graphic design and gaming content creation makes her the artist she is today.

Mari Takao

Teaching Artist

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Mari Takao

Teaching Artist

Mari Takao is an international student from Japan. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Theater from CSU Sacramento in December 2021. She has been involved in theater since she was 6 years old. She has done some TV shows, movies and productions in Japan. Her theater experience in the U.S. is varied both on and off the stage include Assistant Stage manager for We are proud to present... by Jackie Sibblies Drury, the role of Laura in House of Desire by Sor Juana Inés De La Cruz and the role of Maeve in Dance Nation by Clare Barron. She also has done lighting and sound board operators in college, involved in building sets and props as a theater technician assistant and worked in costume shop at CSU Sacramento.

Olivia James

Teaching Artist

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Olivia James

Teaching Artist

Olivia James is a high school senior who has been pursuing theater and performing arts since the age of 6. Olivia grew up in the heart of New York City surrounded by actors and entertainers, including her parents. She has been a part of and participated in a variety of different theater programs and productions. In her past 4 years of high school she has worked on Chicago the Musical, Guys and Dolls and her personal favorite, Seussical. Olivia wants to pursue theater in the future as she attends college in Sacramento.

Gillian Rains

Teaching Artist

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Gillian Rains

Teaching Artist

Gillian Rains is a student, artist, and educator with a passion for sharing her love for the performing arts with anyone who will listen! She has been involved in theater since high school,where she gained an appreciation for all aspects of theatrical production – although her love of the art form can be traced back to her childhood, when she was a toddler singing along to musical theater cassettes in the car. Gillian approaches both her love of teaching and her love of theater with a three-pronged standard of equity, accessibility, and representation, and she strives to foster an environment of acceptance and growth in every situation.

Ryan King

Teaching Artist

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Ryan King

Teaching Artist

Ryan King has been teaching Improv and Theater in Sacramento for 3 years and has performed regularly at the Sacramento Comedy Spot for 8 years. Ryan is also currently pursuing a BA in Theatre from Sacramento State University.

Jason Bortz

Teaching Artist

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Jason Bortz

Teaching Artist

Jason Bortz is grateful to have trained in Seattle with&[#xA0;The Film Sch](http://thefilmschool.com/)ool’s John Jacobsen before traveling to New York to attend the National Shakespeare Conservatory; in L.A., he was a core member of the Shakespeare & Friends Foundation performing for “at risk” inner-city schools while working a_nd developing his coaching pr_ocess “Passion to Cra[ft: Your Method.” A](http://www.capitalfilmarts.org/) founding member of the Capital Film Arts Alliance in Sacramento, Jason has coached for El Dorado Musical Theatre, Stand Out Talent, McLaughlin Studios, Cast Images Agency, Tamraloo Studios, Art Institute of Sacramento, Access Sacramento, Sacramento [Film and Music Festival and curren](https://innervoice.media/)tly teaches at InnerVoice Media Creative Wonderlab in Auburn. Jason's received top awards from Style Magazine’s “Best of the Best”, Sacramento News & Review, the KCRA TV “A” List, and Sacramento Magazine.  A performer and director of many plays, Jason is also a member of SAG/AFTRA, credited in acting, voiceover, producing, writing and directing in film, television and video games. His short films garnered awards in festivals across the country. Represented by th[e Bitela Agency, he p](http://www.learningexchange.com/)rovides screenplay coverage and served as a guest screenwriting instructor for The Learning Exchange. The greatest position he's held is Dad to his awesome kids.

Tracey Freeman-Shaw

Teaching Artist

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Tracey Freeman-Shaw

Teaching Artist

Tracey Freeman- Shaw Is thrilled to be joining NorCal School of the Arts. Tracey is originally from Sacramento. She graduated from Sacramento State with a Bachelor of Arts in Theater & Dance. Tracey has worked for the past 18 years as a professional musical theater artist, choreographer, and dance educator. She was the choreographer for Camp Music Circus for 3 amazing summers, The Seussical dance practitioner for the Jr. Co. at Music Circus and choreographed for their Springtime Showcase. Tracey has taught a variety of classes including tap, jazz, hip hop, ballet and musical theater at many studios throughout Northern California. Her favorite professional choreography credits include The Producers at the El Dorado Casino in Reno, NV, Beauty & the Beast in Anchorage, Alaska, Lion King Jr. for Camp Music Circus and her 8 person and 9 puppet reimagined Fiddler on the Roof performed in Riverside, California. “5,6,7,8…” is her favorite phrase.

Cattaryna Tekin

Teaching Artist

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Cattaryna Tekin

Teaching Artist

Cattaryna is an actor/director with 10 years of experience in local theatre and film. Some of her previous theatrical credits include The Maltese Falcon (Brigid O’Shaughnessy), Hollywood Arms (Carol Burnett), You Cant Take it With You (Essie), Uncle Vanya (Sonya), King Lear (Regan), and The Tempest (Miranda). She has performed in several children’s shows as well, playing the princess/female lead in shows such as Princess and the Pea, Sleeping Beauty, and Robin Hood. She has also worked as a performer in several children’s birthday parties in character as various princesses. She has over a decade of experience in child care and is very excited to be working with the amazing team at NorCal School of the Arts.

Beth Sheridan Hooper

Teaching Artist

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Beth Sheridan Hooper

Teaching Artist

A recent transplant from the Bay Area, Beth loves all aspects of theatre. This summer, she directed and designed the sets/lights/sound/costumes for the Agatha Christie play Towards Zero. A play version that was only recently uncovered in 2015 with the Orinda Starlight Village Players. She also helmed two iterations of short play festivals at Piedmont Center for the Arts. She's been acting since first grade. Her inquisitive mindled her to pursue a MA in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness which she in turn applied to her previous acting classes by implementing teaching about Jungian shadow to teach about character motivation and development. With over 15 years of experience in all areas of arts and theater from stage management to house management to registrar and development work for Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir, Beth always finds careers where she can share her love of theater and build confidence among the younger generations. She looks forward to being a teaching artist with NorCal School of the Arts!

Destiny Spurr

Teaching Artist

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Destiny Spurr

Teaching Artist

Destiny is a freelance artist residing in the Sacramento area. She started theater in high school and has spent the past decade honing her craft. She graduated from Sierra College in 2019, receiving her associates degree in graphic design. Destiny has found great love and appreciation for the community working with local playhouses performing on stage and designing set pieces off stage. Her onstage performances include Effie in Maltese Falcon, Kamila in Perfect Murder, Barbara in Spain and more. She is committed to growing both in her art and as a person. Destiny is thrilled to be teaching at NorCal School of the Arts.

Joseph Cochran

Teaching Artist

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Joseph Cochran

Teaching Artist

Joseph Cochran is a Senior at Sacramento State University studying in the History Pre-Credential program. In the future, he hopes to pursue a career in teaching high school history and theater classes and one day become an educator at the collegiate level. He was a member of STC’s Young Professional Conservatory for three years and performed in a professional STC production as an understudy for several characters. He currently studies vocal technique with a professional coach and has done so for the past two years. Favorite productions include Into the Woods (Baker), Northanger Abbey (Ensemble/Swing), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Mitch Mahoney), Secret Garden (Dr. Neville), and Alice and Wonderland Jr. (Director).

Hope Hester

Teaching Artist

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Hope Hester

Teaching Artist

Hope April Hester-Marks began her dance training in Sacramento, California with Pat Colgate at Deane Dance Center. She received her BA in Dance from California State University, Sacramento and trained as a certificate program student at The Ailey School in New York. Ms. Hester-Marks has performed widely as a freelance dancer and as a trainee with both PDX Contemporary Ballet in Portland and Central Illinois Ballet. She is currently a resident company artist with Black Diamond Ballet in Pittsburg, CA and has taught ballet to children at Deane Dance Center, Cornerstone Academy for Performing Arts, and in California public schools.

Nazanin Arastoo

Teaching Artist

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Nazanin Arastoo

Teaching Artist

Nazanin Arastoo is the founder of Nazanin Arastoo World Puppet Theater. Her inspiration began with her fondest memories of her childhood which were of the traditional Persian puppet shows. They transported her to a world of music, color, magic and laughter amidst the chaos of war and revolution. She was further inspired by the ancient art of puppetry from around the world and began collecting and creating Puppets. In 2010 Nazanin founded her Theater Company and has since received several grants and has performed shows in front of thousands of children and adults. The theater performances include her own unique Puppets as well as handmade Puppets from around the world. The puppet shows are interactive with the audience and carry an environmental message. Nazanin has performed and done workshops in several schools, libraries and theaters in Nevada and California. Nazanin created a puppet theater workshop course at I Can Do Anything Charter High School where her students created original puppet theater productions that they performed for the community. She also created and led an Afro-Latin world music class and ensemble at I Can Do Anything Charter High School. Her students performed and led drumming workshops, making and playing their own instruments. In addition to being a visual artist, she is also a musician and a world traveler. She has performed and toured as a guest artist percussionist with Yuval Ron Ensemble and also plays classical guitar. She finds her inspiration in nature, fellow humans on this earth journey, music and the many amazing cultures of our world.

Casey Lipka

Teaching Artist

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Casey Lipka

Teaching Artist

An in-demand bassist, Los Angeles native Casey Lipka is currently based in Sacramento as a member of the highly acclaimed Dear Darling. Lipka’s travels over the years have established her as a musical chameleon. Since earning her master’s in Music Education from Bard College, she has toured as a bassist with rock band CAKE, composed music for ballet and museum installations and fronted an 18-piece orchestra celebrating the music of Motown legends. In March 2022, Lipka and Dear Darling were opening acts for the 14th annual Cayamo Sixth Man Soundcheck Festival, which featured Americana artists Emmylou Harris and the Indigo Girls. Lipka’s musical universe continues to expand with Dear Darling, while developing an emerging body of solo work under her own name. Like her fellow Darlings’, Lipka’s distinctly feminine voice signals the growing resurgence of women’s roles in the thriving Americana movement. An amalgam of pop, folk, and jazz wrapped in a neo-classical vibe, her ethereal sound exudes both vulnerability and strength. Original compositions such as “Home” tell the tale of searching to find a place in the world, both literally and figuratively, of longing for resolution, of hope conquering despair. It’s a recurring theme that weaves throughout her solo work. “It’s about reaching people and bringing them together to create a meaningful experience in hopes of sparking a conversation of some sort, whether it’s through concerts or my recordings." Ask her about her musical influences and you’ll find artists that span wide-ranging musical spectrums, with nods to Indie rocker Kimbra, Fiona Apple, Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell, Stevie Wonder, and fellow singing bassist Esperanza Spalding.

Grace Bunting

Teaching Artist

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Grace Bunting

Teaching Artist

Grace Bunting is a graduate of St. Mary’s College of California where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and a minor in English. In her time at St. Mary’s, she learned the ways of Estill Voice Training and recently passed her Estill Figure Proficiency exam. Grace feels passionately about a well-balanced artistic diet, which is reflected in her studies of various vocal styles including opera, musical theater, jazz, and many more. Grace is currently teaching high school music and private lessons. She is ecstatic to be rejoining the NorCal team!

Amanda Goldrick

Teaching Artist

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Amanda Goldrick

Teaching Artist

Amanda Goldrick holds her B.A. in Musical Theatre with a double emphasis in Voice and Acting from the University of Northern Colorado. Upon graduating she taught acting for a private school in Evergreen, Colorado, performed on stage in major cities in Montana, Colorado and California, and trained with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. Amanda is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and has appeared in such roles as Cassie in A Chorus Line, Lucy Van Pelt in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Kate Monster/Lucy in Avenue Q. She has also been seen in several productions at Sacramento Theatre Company appearing as Sister Amnesia in Nunsense, the Queen in Cinderella, and Maudie Atkinson in To Kill a Mockingbird. Amanda has taught acting for Christian Youth Theatre and Christian home school enrichment programs in Denver and has been a director and choreographer. Her on camera experience includes film, a tv series, industrials, product videos and commercials. Amanda has worked in the STC School of the Arts Program as a director and teaching artist for after school programs and summer camps and had her first arts integration experience helping teach history to the students of Ottomon Elementary. She looks forward to continuing to be a part of arts integration with Northern California School of the Arts.

THE NORCAL BOARD

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

BOARD PRESIDENT

Martin Noufer (Intel Corporation)

BOARD MEMBERS

Adam Ahmed (Intel Corporation, Sacramento Children's Museum & Fmr Board President)

Julie Casso (Non-Profit Arts Executive Director)

Amber Cosby (Golden 1 Credit Union)

ADVISORY BOARD

ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

Wayne Cook (Retired California Arts Council Program Specialist )

Jeff Williams (CEO SI&A)

Jack Mitchell (Former Consultant with the California Department of Education, Writer for National Theater Standards, Content Expert for California Arts Standards)