Nzinga Woods - Dance and Co-Director of ArtQuest Nzinga Woods is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, performer, and explorer of movement and embodied knowledge. Nzinga's dance and performance training includes: Jazz, Modern, Dunham, Afro-Cuban, Hip Hop, and Afro-Haitian dance, as well as multimedia, theatre and somatic techniques.
A native of Sacramento, she has danced with and choreographed for many dance companies and organizations in Northern California. She has traveled around the world from the Caribbean, Europe and Asia dancing and also working with school aged youth. Nzinga received her BA at CSU Sacramento, and completed her MFA in Performance and Choreography at Mills College. She has performed in the works of Ronald K Brown, Sonya Delwaide, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Nicholas Leichter, Brenda Way, Jacinta Vlach, Yvonne Rainer, Linda Goodrich, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Halifu Osumare and Keith Washington. In addition to performance and choreography, Nzinga is also passionate about youth empowerment through the arts and also received her MA in Educational Leadership and her Administrative Credential. Nzinga remains an active arts educator in her community.
Kira Bombace - MusicandCo-Director of ArtQuest Mrs. Kira Bombace was a student at Santa Rosa High School when the ArtQuest program began! Inspired by her high school choral experience with long-time SRHS director Dan Earl, she continued her musical pursuits at Santa Rosa Junior College with Dr. Curtis Sprenger, and then at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ, where she majored in Choral Music Education under the direction of Drs. Edith A. Copley and Alan J. Rieck.
She began her teaching career here in Santa Rosa, at Rincon Valley Middle School, where she taught 7th-8th grade performing arts classes for one year with Jennifer Brown, another Santa Rosa High alumnus! Before taking the reins of the Choral Program at SRHS, she taught choir, band and guitar at Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park.
Mrs. Bombace currently directs four outstanding SRHS choral ensembles: ACappella, Las Choralistas, Concert Choir, and Chamber Singers. Over the past 30 or so years, these choirs have received many awards from the Western Division of the American Choral Directors’ Association (ACDA) and the California Music Educators’ Association (CMEA). The Concert Choir has also performed multiple times locally with the Santa Rosa Symphony, and last year toured to Mexico City, Taxco… and Disneyland (yes, in the same week!).
Tanya Knippelmeir - Dance Tanya Tolmasoff teaches AQ Beginning Dance. She received her Bachelor of Arts from California Polytechnic Institute, San Luis Obispo, in Theatre Arts with Dance and Costume Design emphases. Her MA, with Honors Distinction, was from the University of London, in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy – Performing Arts. She taught dance in the United Kingdom at Sadler’s Wells and was a coordinator, choreography assistant and performer in BIG DANCE and a leader for BIG Street Dance 2012 on Trafalger Square in London. Tolmasoff has choreographed and performed for Interweave Dance Theatre in Boulder, Colorado and toured California and Russia as a soloist in the original cast of Deyo Dances. She currently teaches modern and other dance at Santa Rosa Junior College and is the co-founder and artistic director of the professional contemporary dance company “UPside Dance” in Healdsburg. She teaches classes at UPside and also choreographs and co-directs the company’s performances.
Jereme Anglin - AQ Theatre Arts, Intermediate, Advanced Jereme holds a MFA in Acting and works professionally as an actor, director and teacher. For eight years he served as Director of Theatre Arts of an award-winning training program at one of the top ten private high schools in Connecticut. Jereme's own acting training was accomplished at schools such as the Sorbonne in Paris, The Moscow Art Theatre at Harvard, and the University of Connecticut. He has acted in many theaters on the east and west coasts as a member of Actors' Equity Association. In addition to acting and directing, he has served as fight choreographer for several productions, holds a black belt in Aikido, and is a practitioner of physical theater and the Suzuki Method of actor training.
John Sappington - Photography John Sappingtonis an artist/educator working in photography and digital media. Sappington graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Kansas City Art Institute and a Masters of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute - both in photography. Sappington has taught Photography and Design at the Santa Rosa Junior College since 2003. He is presently the Photography Instructor for ArtQuest.
Danielle Cain - AQ Theatre Arts, Level 1 Danielle Cain has been a working theatre artist in the North Bay for over 20 years. She is on the theatre faculties at Sonoma State University and Napa Valley College. She works regularly as a voice, accent, audition, and Shakespeare coach. As a theatre administrator, she’s been an associate artistic director, casting director and media relations manager. As an actor, favorite shows include Angels in America, Arcadia, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Skylight, Enchanted April, Boston Marriage, Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet and Top Girls. She trained at the British American Drama Academy, American Conservatory Theatre and received her BFA in acting from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Danielle leads summer Shakespeare classes in London for SSU theatre students. Both of her children are proud graduates of ArtQuest Theatre Arts!
Hollis Fennen - English Language Arts Hollis Fennen has been teaching English Language Arts for nine years. She teaches sophomore ArtQuest and Honors English. For the past three years, she and fellow English instructor Darlene Pullen have edited the ArtQuest Anthology, a published collection of student artwork and poetry, and coordinated the ArtQuest Poetry Slam. She graduated with Honors from Pacific Union College and received her teaching credential from Sonoma State University. In addition to teaching, Hollis is a professional harpist and enjoys playing for events in the North Bay. She lives with her husband and two sons in the Napa Valley.
Jonathan Gregory- English Language Arts Jonathan Gregory teaches AQ English classes. He received his Master of Arts in English Literature from San Francisco State University, his Juris Doctor from UCLA School of Law (where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Entertainment Law Review), his English teaching credential from Sonoma State University, and his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (with high distinction) from Indiana University-Bloomington, with minors in Psychology and Economics. Because of his avid interest in the Arts, Mr. Gregory interned at California Lawyers for the Arts in Santa Monica during law school. Before becoming an English teacher, Jonathan worked for twelve years as a civil litigation attorney in San Francisco and Santa Rosa. He is an enthusiastic songwriter, singer and guitarist with recording and (local) performing experience. He has also been involved in the visual arts since very young and now enjoys painting (oils and acrylics), reading and writing about art, and studying art law. Relatively new to teaching, Mr. Gregory describes himself as a “recovering attorney” and said at his first AQ meeting, “I feel like I have found my place here at ArtQuest.”
Janet Fisher - Visual Fine Arts Janet comes to us from England, the U.K. She graduated from Manchester University with an emphasis in History of Art and Ceramics. She lived in Hong Kong while working in Management of an Art Gallery, also managing Front of House Theater. Janet moved to America in the 1990's, working for the British Gov't. while here in the States. She recently became credentialed as a Visual Fine Arts Teacher. Their two daughters are alumnus of ArtQuest! We feel honored to have Janet share her background, and vast knowledge of the arts as a teacher here at ArtQuest!
Tim Decker is an alumni of Santa Rosa High School, graduating in 1998. He was inspired by the great music educators that he had at SRHS; Mark Wardlaw, Dan Earl, and Nick Xenelis, to pursue music education with hopes of inspiring students in the same way that they inspired him. After graduation from SRHS he continued studying music at SRJC with Dan Goulart, and at Sacramento State University, where he studied Music Education with an emphasis in Instrumental Conducting with Dr. Robert Halseth, and Tuba and Trombone performance with Julian Dixon and Joel Elias. As a performer and conductor Mr. Decker has had the privilege of performing with bands, orchestras, and choirs in some of the greatest venues, including Carnegie Hall, the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, on the field at Oracle Park, and down Main Street in Disneyland. He has also performed with John Faddis, Steve Smith, Bill Watrous, Conrad Herwig, Bobby Shue, Mike Vax, and Ronald Romm. Mr. Decker has been honored to be recognized as the Prudential Education Foundation Outstanding Teacher in 2009, The Rohnert Park Patch Reader’s Choice Best Teacher in 2012, and was twice awarded the SF Giants and Wells Fargo Step up to the Plate for Education Grant. After 14 years teaching high school music in Sonoma County, Mr. Decker is excited to once again be a Panther.
Megan Whyte - English Language Arts Megan Whyte has been an English and Fine Arts Drama teacher at Santa Rosa High School since 2001. She joined the ArtQuest program in 2011 where she teaches ArtQuest English to mostly 9th and 10th graders. She attended Napa Valley College where she earned three Associates Degrees in Social Science, Fine Arts, and Humanities, and then graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelors of the Arts in English. She enjoys playing music, mostly guitar and piano, and enjoys performing in occasional community theater productions. You might also see her riding her mountain bike or paddling her kayak. Megan is grateful to be a part of the ArtQuest program.
Jan Sofie - Former Director of ArtQuest Degrees: Sonoma State University—BA in Studio Art with a Minor in Art History, Single Subject Teaching Credential in Visual Arts. Supplementary Credentials: Dance and Literature, Administrative Credential. Studied Journalism and Creative Writing at Michigan State University and Humanities at University of London, England with graduate work at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz.
She was the Founder of the Calistoga Elementary School Art Docent Program, the Adult and Children’s Art Educator for the City of Calistoga, Art Consultant for St. Helena Montessori Elementary School, and Co-Implementor of the California Arts Council’s Local Arts Education Partnership Grant and the California Department of Education’s Arts Work Assistance and Expansion Grants for the Santa Rosa City Schools District for four years. As William Morehouse's student, Jan worked on Christo's, California projects: Running Fence (1976) and The Umbrellas (1991). As an artist, designer, educator, businesswoman, she designed and implemented residential and commercial architectural renovations, including Brannan Cottage Inn, for which she and her husband won the Napa Landmarks Association‘s Award for Historic Preservation in Napa County.
Her memberships include: Board of Directors for the Cultural Arts Council of Sonoma County, Founding Member and Co-Chair of the Sonoma County Arts/Education Alliance, Board of Directors for Friends of ArtQuest, California Art Education Association, National Art Education Association.
Her awards include: Circle of Excellence Award—Sonoma State University, Educational Excellence Award—California League of High Schools, Exemplary Excellence in Education Award—Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, Teacher of the Month Award—Santa Rosa City Schools, Arts in Education Award for participation in the Child of Our Time—Cultural Arts Council of -Sonoma County, Golden C Award—Calistoga High School, Lottery Funds at Work Award for the ArtQuest Program—The California Lottery, California Assembly Resolution from Assembly Member Patricia Wiggins in recognition of the ArtQuest Program and Santa Rosa High School, back in 1999 “Jack London Award” for ArtQuest Program—School of Education, Sonoma State University.
Lauren Frost - AQ Digital Arts
Brooke Delello - Visual Fine Arts
Casey Elsa - English Language Arts
ArtQuest @ SRHS 1235 Mendocino Avenue Santa Rosa, CA 95401