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Staff

Meet the Main Street School of Performing Arts Staff! We are proud to be a part of Arts Education in Minnesota. To send an MSSPA staff member an email, simply click on their name. (MSSPA Staff photos by: Erika Ludwig Photography)

Matthew McFarlane (Director of Operations)
Matthew McFarlane, Music Instructor at MSSPAA musician of diverse abilities and interests, Mr. McFarlane has an undergraduate degree from Graceland University, and a Masters Degree from Westminster Choir College. He spent his formative years in a household filled with music in Oelwein, Iowa. For McFarlane, the arts provide the opportunity to express what cannot be said with words. He believes Main Street is an inclusive community where anyone with an artistic skill and drive can find their voice. Mr. McFarlane suggests you try Star Wok. He loves it.

Michelle Erickson (Director of Teaching and Learning)
Michelle Erickson, Social Studies Instructor at MSSPAMs. Erickson attended Wheaton College in Illinois for her degree. She is pleased to say she grew up in and still loves the Twin Cities. Erickson strongly believes artistic expression is necessary to freedom- on all levels. Also, art performance just makes the world beautiful. The most important part of MSSPA to Ms. Erickson is the fact that this school is a haven for learning, for collaboration, for growth. She is a big fan of all things European. She loves dance, ballet in particular. Ms. Erickson has been known to do a Slovakian chardaz or two with a local folk group.

Tania Montgomery (Director of Student Life)
Ms. Montgomery holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Vassar College and a Master of Social Work from the University of Minnesota. Her career has been devoted to working with and on behalf of young people – from recruiting adult volunteers to serve as mentors to young people and supporting those relationships, to preparing and supporting families to adopt waiting children from Minnesota’s child welfare system in need of permanent homes, to serving as a charter school director. Though not an artist herself, Ms. Montgomery grew up in a family and community full of artists. She believes in the power of the arts to help young people develop their self-esteem, which can only positively impact their academic achievement.

Rob Thompson (Director of Outreach/Theatre)
Robert Thompson, Director of Outreach at MSSPAMr. Thompson holds a Bachelor of Arts from St. Cloud State University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Florida. Thompson grew up in Plymouth Minnesota on the banks of Medicine Lake. Mr. Thompson states, “Performing arts are the sinews that connect us as humans, in the pictures and sounds created in live performance we find those things that connect us all on this planet. ” For Thompson, the global community we have where we all join each day for a common goal of enriching our lives through our art is the most amazing thing about MSSPA. Thompson cannot confine himself to a single guilty pleasure he loves comic books, sci-fi, and CSI.

GaVae Piner (School Counselor)
GaVae Piner, Director of Student Services at MSSPAMs. Piner attended the College of Saint Benedict for her undergraduate degree and Saint Cloud State University for her graduate degree. She spent her childhood in the Twin Cities. Piner’s believes the performing arts allow us to explore the full spectrum of the human experience, which makes them vital to what we do daily. For Ms. Piner it is the sense of community at MSSPA is amazing; "it is a treat to work with students, families and a staff that have chosen MSSPA as the school they wish to come to." Ms. Piner has a couple of guilty pleasures, chocolate with caramel or peanut butter.

Louisa Cadwell (Theatre)
Louisa Cadwell, Theatre Instructor at MSSPAMs. Cadwell holds a degree from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and a graduate degree from Hamline University She spent two years in Knoxville, TN and the rest in Moorhead, MN while growing up. For Cadwell, the constant exchange of ideas and creative energy helps people connect and celebrate our unique abilities and contributions as artists. The performing arts are invigorating. Ms. Cadwell finds inspiration at MSSPA from the students who contribute to the atmosphere and community that makes this school such a special place to come to every day. Her guilty pleasure (as any student who’s seen her computer desktop can attest to) is playing The Sims 3. Shhhhh.

Lara Ciganko (Dance)
Lara Ciganko, Dance Instructor at MSSPAMs. Ciganko holds a BFA and MFA in Dance from Florida State University. Geographically, most of her childhood was spent in upstate New York in the “foothills” of the Catskills, although most often she was found in a studio taking class or rehearsing. Ms. Ciganko feels the arts are vital because they “remind us that we are human and it is our mind and body, our ‘instrument’ that is continuously exploring and being fine-tuned to selflessly share its creativity and expression found deep within our souls for humanity. ” She greatly enjoys seeing the MSSPA students dig deep into themselves, growing and learning through the performing arts mediums. Ciganko claims her greatest guilty pleasures are time spent with friends/family and engaging in good conversation.

Tyler Flory (English)
Tyler Flory, Language Arts Instructor at MSSPAMr. Flory holds a BA from St. John's University with a major in English and minor in Music. He also holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from University of St. Thomas. His formative years were spent in Lincoln, Nebraska. The performing arts are important to him, "because creating art gives credibility to the human race. They are also really fun and I have made friendships through them that I wouldn't have made otherwise." He values MSSPA because of the "dedicated faculty and that the students are willing to look at the world in a different way." Mr. Flory willingly admits that he is a sucker for girly pop-rock.

William T. Leaf (Theatre)
William Leaf, Theatre Instructor at MSSPAMr. Leaf attended the University of Minnesota for his Bachelors in Theatre and Hamline University for his Masters in Education. He grew up in New Hope Minnesota in Northwood Park. Leaf believes, “we use our art form as a vehicle for discovery and exploration." Since it’s inception, it is MSSPA’s community that makes it special for Mr. Leaf, “and that the community is accepting of every student that comes through the door. ” Mr. Leaf loves photography, cooking, baking and small woodworking projects like building sets.

Michael Leverentz (Mathematics)
Michael Leverentz, Mathematics Instructor at MSSPAMr. Leverentz has attended several institutes of higher learning including the University of Minnesota, Duluth, Coaches Training Institute, Landmark Training, Mankind Project, School of Playback Theater, Interplay to name a few. He grew up in the Twin Cities both on the St. Paul side and Minneapolis side. Leverentz believes the performing arts help staff and students to explore their inner landscape and help to develop creative solutions in life. They are also fun to participate in and watch. Mr. Leverentz continues to participate in dance and improvisational theater as often as he is able. For Leverentz, the community is very important. MSSPA has created an accepting environment for students to take risks in both the performing arts and academics. A guilty pleasure for Mr. Leverentz is watching movies. He especially enjoys going to the opening night at the movie theater.

Alison Miller (Gifted & Talented Coordinator/Math)
Alison Miller, Gifted and Talented Coordinator/Mathematics Instructor at MSSPAMs. Miller holds a Bachelors of Arts from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and a Masters from the University of St Thomas. Ms. Miller grew up in South East Minneapolis (Prospect Park). For Miller, the arts provide flavor and beauty to her life. The best part of MSSPA for Ms. Miller is the nurturing, inclusive environment where both students and staff are concerned for others. The vitality and creativity of the community makes it fun to come to work. In regards to her guilty pleasures, she proudly states, “I don't feel guilty about any of my pleasures.”

Rachel Mollick (Music)
Rachel Mollick, Music Instructor at MSSPAMs. Mollick attended Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota for her Bachelor of Arts in Music Education. Mollick grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The performing arts are what make her feel alive. “It gives me energy and makes me feel human and connected with the people I create, rehearse, and perform with. ” The vitality of MSSPA, for Mollick, is found in the school feeding the need of students who want to be creative and expressive. For her, it's not just a school, but a place to facilitate exploration and discovery of one's self through art. Ms. Mollick loves candy bars. The end. And sometimes can't stop watching bad reality TV Shows on Bravo and TLC.

Steve Mollick (Music)
Steve Mollick, Music Instructor at MSSPAMr. Mollick holds Bachelor of Music from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. He spent his childhood throughout Ohio - in a small town called Chillicothe, the home of the pro football hall of fame, Canton, and a suburb of Columbus. For Mollick, it is intellectually challenging and emotionally satisfying to hear and perform music - “What else would I do, anyway? Play sports? ” The thing that makes MSSPA special to Mr. Mollick is the friendly, welcoming environment centered on artistic excellence. His guilty pleasure comes in the form of fake meat products - meatless hot dogs/corn dogs, fake buffalo wings, etc. “They are neat, ” he says.

Sarah Omernik (Language Arts)
Sarah Omermik, Language Arts Instructor at MSSPAMs. Omernik attended the University of Minnesota for both her undergraduate and graduate school. She was fortunate to grow up in the sleepy little town of Richland Center, Wisconsin. For Omernik, the performing arts are vital to exploring creativity and encouraging critical, curious thinkers. “Without the arts this world would be a dull and boring place. ” Ms. Omernik loves MSSPA’s overall climate of respect for each individual. “Main Street acknowledges and embraces each student for their unique and special talents. ” She just can’t get enough 1980’s power ballads.

Cassy Schauwitzer (Language Arts)
Cassy Schauwitzer, Language Arts Instructor at MSSPAMs. Schauwitzer received her degree from Augsburg College. She grew up in Duluth, Minnesota. Schauwitzer grew up taking dance classes her entire childhood into adolescence and continued to coach while in college and in her first years of teaching. She has found that being a performer grounded her because it forced her to adhere to a strict schedule, but also allowed her to reach inside herself to do the best that she could. For Ms. Schauwitzer, the community at MSSPA is like no other school community she has ever been part of. One thing she can never give up is making time to read "for fun" every night before she goes to bed and snuggling with her dog Edison.

Stephanie Wilson (Special Education Paraprofessional)
Stephanie Wilson, Special Education Paraprofessional at MSSPAMs. Wilson grew up not too far away from MSSPA and has, as she puts it, "always been in Minnesota." She graduated from Minnesota State University - Mankato, with a BS in Secondary Education in the Communication Arts and Literature content area. The performing arts are very important to her, "because as a performer, you are able to explore meaning within text whereas if you were just reading it. It also helps those who are visual/ kinesthetic learners, like myself, understand and interpret deep feeling and emotion." Ms. Wilson think MSSPA is a great place for both students and staff, "I have never felt a sense of belonging and understanding like I have felt in the past 2 months. The students are talented and have tons of potential. They are the reason I enjoy being here!" Her guilty pleasure after a long day at school? Ice cream.

MSSPA Presents: Our Upcoming Productions

All shows start at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $10 Adults, $5 Students (unless noted)
& can be purchased at the door.

Get Online Tickets
@ Brown Paper Tickets:

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Online tickets may not be available for all events.

Download Performance Calendar

NO SHAME
9/26, 10/31, 12/5, 1/13, 4/24, 5/22
Eisenhower Community Center
1001 Minnesota 7
Hopkins, MN / Map

Vocal Music Concerts
10/28 & 3/20
Gethsemane Lutheran Church
715 Minnetonka Mills Rd.
Hopkins, MN / Map

Ensemble
Instrumental Music Offerings
10/27 & TBD - Late March
Icehouse
2528 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis, MN / Map

The 3 Musketeers
11/6 - 11/8
Music Box Theatre
1407 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis, MN / Map

Fall Dance Concert
11/13 - 11/15
Music Box Theatre
1407 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis, MN / Map

Main Street Masterwork
12/16
Gethsemane Lutheran Church
715 Minnetonka Mills Rd.
Hopkins, MN / Map

The Wedding Singer
2/19 - 2/21 & 2/27
Illusion Theatre
528 Hennepin Avenue #704
Minneapolis, MN / Map

Noises Off
4/30 - 5/2
Music Box Theatre
1407 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis, MN / Map

Spring Dance Concert
5/14 - 5/16
Music Box Theatre
1407 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis, MN / Map

Tutti
Spring Music Concerts
5/19
Gethsemane Lutheran Church
715 Minnetonka Mills Rd.
Hopkins, MN / Map

Senior Creation Showcase
5/27-5/28
Music Box Theatre
1407 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis, MN / Map