Our teachers come from a variety of backgrounds in the arts, but they all have a common thread that brings us together. They are experienced teachers who share their creativity, gentle nurturing spirits and the ability to be flexible for the children and families we are honored to work with. If you are interested in finding out more about joining our program, the Breanna’s Gift Artist-Teacher job description is a great way to start. The next step? Fill out an application and this form which gives us permission to do a background check.

DANCE

website_teacher_shelleyShelley Westgor

Shelley has taught dance for over 20 years to children ranging in age from 2 through 18. The children study many dance disciplines including jazz, tap and ballet and also get to experience the joy of performing. Shelley has taught classes to toddlers and preschoolers in the community and currently teaches at Spectrum Dance. Her formal training began at age 10 and as with most dancers, her training continues to be a part of her weekly routine. Shelley has shared her talent and her love of dance with the children in the Breanna’s Gift program since its inception in 2007 and continues to be passionate about working with the children.

website_teacher_KristinadeSacramentoKristina de Sacramento

Kristina has been a generous force in the artistic community of Minneapolis since 1973 – for years as a painter and for over 26 years as a flamenco dancer, teacher and choreographer. She has studied in Paris, Chicago, New York, Santa Fe, San Francisco and Albuquerque. Kristina travels to Spain for a month each year to continue her studies. She is the Artistic Director of Anda Flamenco Company and Anda Flamenco School, both founded in 1995. Kristina believes that the personal pride and self-respect embodied in flamenco are healing for people in many different situations. She has dedicated herself to finding ways to share the power of dance with diverse cultural and economic communities of all ages and physical and mental abilities. Kristina joined Breanna’s Gift in 2008 and shares her unique and passionate teaching style with the children in the program.

MUSIC

amplatz_music.2013_460pxBetz Ulrich

Betz grew up playing the piano and over the last 38 years has added the harp and ukulele to her list of musical accomplishments. She retired as an RN after 40 years of working in the field and attended Augsburg College to pursue a degree in Music Therapy. In 2010, Betz did her internship at Fraser School in Minneapolis, working with children with a wide range of childhood diseases and disabilities; she received her Music Therapy degree that same year. Betz has been with Breanna’s Gift since January of 2009 and has been encouraged by the children’s response to music and the arts. She continues to be amazed at their resilience and how wise they are for their years. Each time Betz teaches the children in the Breanna’s Gift program, she believes that while they are learning something new, she is learning as well.

MUSIC and ORIGAMI

origami - RMH_cropRochelle Mazze

Rochelle holds an undergraduate degree from Lehman College in New York in sociology and a master’s degree in social research from Montclair State University in New Jersey. During this time, Rochelle studied the physiology and psychosocial development of language acquisition, which upon reflection, she believes prepared her for Suzuki’s approach to learning music. Rochelle is a certified Suzuki piano teacher and has been teaching Suzuki Piano for over 30 years. She has held various positions in the Twin Cities Piano Teachers Guild; is one of the founders of the Suzuki Association of Minnesota; contributes articles to their newsletters and has been a conference presenter for the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Rochelle joined Breanna’s Gift in 2007. She has developed a unique and innovative approach to music as she combines it with the art of origami. The ratio of one to the other varies with the ages and the physical capabilities of the children.

VISUAL ARTS

Malia Araki Burkhart

Malia is a multidisciplinary artist and educator. She teaches people how to create stories from scratch using whatever materials are around. Through arts residencies, classes and workshops, Malia loves introducing others to the wonder and magic of art. She often teaches puppet theater, mask making and set-design as well as music, visual arts and movement-improvisation. Her creative work blends together many forms of art, including music, sculpture, painting and storytelling.  She likes to explore funny voices, and objects that make interesting sounds. Malia joined Breanna’s Gift as a visual arts teacher in January of 2020.