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MEET OUR INSTRUCTORS

MEET OUR INSTRUCTORS

Dear Prospective Student:

At the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, we take education seriously!  Providing diversified educational learning opportunities to our community is part of our mission.  We welcome everyone to experience learning at the Suffolk Center.   We carefully select instructors who can teach everyone in the class to succeed regardless of any challenges or differences they may have.  We are so confident that you will be enriched through the educational experiences we provide at the Suffolk Center, that we earnestly say “Welcome to Class”.

Warmly,
Rick Byrd
Creative Director

Beth Blanchard
Beth BlanchardOil Painting & Homeschool Art
A lifelong resident of Hampton Roads, Beth developed her love of painting and teaching through local artists and instructors like Cleta Norcross, Wayne Fulcher, and Robert Lemasters. Beth believes that every person has an artistic bent, and it’s her goal as a teacher to help her students discover the art they were created to make. Whether she is teaching a four year old how to draw, encouraging the teenager to let go and enjoy the process, or guiding the adult student back to the basics, she loves equipping and encouraging others in their artistic pursuits just as she was encouraged by her former teachers. Beth has taught students drawing, acrylics, oils, watercolors, printing, collage, clay, weaving, calligraphy, and art history, but oil painting is her passion. Beth has taught privately, at her church, and as a K4-12th grade teacher at Suffolk Christian Academy.
Chelsie Brown
Chelsie BrownZentangle Facilitator
Chelsie is a graduate of Strayer University in Chesapeake, Virginia. She has created and facilitated art groups for the last four years using the Zantangle method. She created “The Healing Power Group which included clients throughout the Suffolk area including clients from the Suffolk Workforce Development Center and “For Kids!”, a non-profit organization. Most recently Chelsie worked with clients who attend the SPARC Initiative in downtown Suffolk.
Rick Byrd
Rick ByrdFloral Design
Rick Byrd is an educator, entrepreneur, visual artist, and last but not least, Rick has a natural eye for design. Rick studied floral design under Michael Gaffney at the New York School of Flower Design/American School of Flower Design. Rick also has the distinct honor of studying with noted floral designer Jane Packer. While living in New York City, Rick worked with a wide variety of diversified designers through the New York Botanical Gardens. Rick is also the Creative Director at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.
Tracy Cissell
Tracy CissellSewing, Quilting, Doll Making, Children's Books and Crafts
My love for sewing and quilting began about six years ago by accident. A friend invited me to a quilt retreat. Without thinking, I said “yes”. She asked if I had a sewing machine. I laughed and said “no”. I had no idea how to even use one! She lent me one of her machines, helped me get the basic notions and materials I needed, and we were off! I created four quilt tops that weekend and fell in love. I also have a background in teaching; I taught college English and Humanities classes for over 12 years. My passion for sewing and creating along with my love of teaching led me to want to share my craft with others who have the desire to try something new or to practice skills they already possess.
Jara Clark
Jara ClarkHealth and Nutrition
Jara, mother of two boys, has been living with her family in Norfolk, Virginia since 2005. She graduated from Norfolk State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Currently she is a Commit and Mixxedfit instructor, and she is also certified in First Aid, AED, and CPR.
Relatively new to the Dance Fitness scene, she received her Mixxedfit Certification in
September 2018 and began teaching in February 2019. Fitness is my passion.
After having children she found herself heavier than she had ever been. At the time she had been telling her oldest son, then 5 that the three main components to a healthy life included 1. Eating, 2. Sleeping and 3. Exercising. Soon she realized she wasn’t following her own words, and immediately decided upon a gym membership with the YMCA. After enrolling, she began trying class after class until she fell in love with Zumba. After about a year of consistency she required more challenge and got introduced to the then Hip Hop Class, now called MIXXEDFIT. There she learned dealt with some harsh truths about her own self love. Through discipline and consistency she began to witness not only her physical form change but her mindset change.
Jara is grateful for her fitness experience, and to all those who have influenced her on her journey. She strives to honor those instructors who have aided her on and off the dance floor, through her classes and in her personal lifestyle. She has a strong love of fitness and a dedicated practice, and hopes to share that love and dedication with anyone who is willing to get on the floor. Her goal is to help individuals realize that fitness is more mental than it is physical and growth through fitness can be an all encompassing change of mind, body, and spirit. Due to her experience as a young single black fit-activist mother, BREATHE was born. Breathe is a book that teaches you how to make good healthy smoothies in a simple and delicious way. It is a
collaboration of smoothie recipes that she put together to assist families, individuals, women, men and children alike to build resiliency everyday and live healthy eternally. She has taken the holistic approach to help her through her journey modeling, her fitness and healthy food lifestyle.
Toni Cotturone
Toni CotturoneCommunity Chorus
Mrs. Antoinette (Toni) Cotturone earned her B.S. Degree in Music Education at Malone University in Canton, Ohio and her M.S. Degree in Secondary Music Education with an emphasis in choral conducting from Old Dominion University. While at ODU, she studied privately with Dr. Nancy Klein. Initially employed as a church musician, Toni has directed ensembles ranging from children to senior citizen choirs. During her twenty-one year tenure at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, Mrs. Cotturone initiated the choral program, which grew exponentially under her direction. She holds a certification in the LoVetri Institute for Somatic Voicework™, which she acquired at Shenandoah University in 2013. Subsequently, she has reviewed in both 2015 and 2017 and has consistently taken online courses that are offered by SVW. This unique vocal pedagogy method equips those certified to teach all styles and genres of vocal music. After retiring from full-time teaching in the spring of 2019, Toni opened a private studio in Suffolk, Makmuzc Voice Studio, where she now has the opportunity to encourage functional vocal training to students of all ages and levels.
Michael Creech
Michael CreechGuitar Instruction
Michael Creech is a seasoned professional singer/songwriter and musician who has available music on Apple Music, Spotify, and other streaming services! He has performed in various shows at Busch Gardens Williamsburg including Celtic Fyre, which was voted #1 Amusement Park Entertainment for 2015, 2018, and 2019 by USA Today and 10Best readers! He has been performing at colleges (e.g., VCU, College of the Albemarle), festivals (e.g., Old Towne Portsmouth Holiday Festival, Suffolk Peanut Festival), and popular venues (e.g., Virginia Beach Amphitheater, The Norva) for several years on the East Coast. He has also shared the stage with several national recording artists including Hal Ketchum and Rascal Flatts. Michael writes jingles and performs voice-over work as well. “With faith, creativity, and knowledge, you hold the key to success.”
Rhona Lynn Dawson
Rhona Lynn DawsonAcrylic Painting - Outreach Art Facilitator
Learning to express our creativity through Art has been a part of my life from the day my Mother put a crayon in my hand and with her hand, guided me along an Imaginary line on the blank paper, training me to trace out a picture from my mind’s eye. With Visual Arts as a backdrop, there has been a creative opportunity around every corner. My formal education after High school was local at Tidewater Community College; Majoring in Childhood Development & Visual Arts. With a Focus in; Arts & Theory of Creativity, Design, Art History, Practical Drawing and Painting (Acrylic, Oil & Watercolor paint). A few areas where Art presented opportunities in my life would include; Portsmouth City School system for the Challenged child as a Teacher and Aide. Among many of my duties the most rewarding would be incorporating students in the designing and creating of themed Murals. The Murals were created throughout the common areas of the schools (cafeteria, clinic, hallways and bathrooms). This led me to Costumes & Visual Set design for events within the Portsmouth Public Schools. Art & Craft Instructor for afterschool programs at the YMCA. I launched “Art and Soul”-Suffolk; instructing painting classes for Seniors about 5 years ago in addition to becoming the Instructor for “b Creative Studios”-Suffolk; an Arts and Crafting Studio.
Miguel Dominado
Miguel DominadoPortrait Drawing, Pastel, Drawing, Animation
Miguel Dominado is an illustrator and portrait artist. He holds a degree in drawing and design, and working for on masters thesis at Old Dominion University. Miguel creates both original work as well as fan art of popular characters from media franchise using ink, watercolor and Copic markers, as well as portraiture done in ink or pastel. Miguel has lived overseas and takes inspiration from different cultures and artistic influences. Miguel creates his own worlds, which consists of fantasy-based characters in a fictional universe. Miguel has participated in local anime and comic book conventions selling prints of his work, as well as have commissioned illustrations and portrait-making services. Miguel currently lives in Chesapeake, Virginia and is working on his thesis project. He is currently studying for his M.A. and planning and working on a web comic and runs an art channel with his sister.
Alicia Edwards
Alicia EdwardsDance - Outreach Dance Facilitator
Alicia began her dance passion at the age of 5 in Yonkers, NY, taking up Ballet, Jazz and Tap. For over 15 years Alicia has performed as student and teacher in various locations all over the United States. Studying at Washington Adventist University, she was sought out to perform with Acro-Airs team performing all over the east coast. She has worked with numerous community groups teaching lyrical dance for churches and community programs. Alicia’s love for dance did not wain after marriage and children. With a belief that lifelong learning is essential for all, she began to expand her repertoire to include dance forms such as belly dance, African traditional, African modern, Mexican folklorico. Upon relocating to El Paso, TX, Alicia was scouted by the professional dance troop the Sun City Girls and also taught dance fitness in the El Paso Independent School District. In 2016 she relocated to Hampton Roads and she is still sharing her passion with the community.
Stephanie Gwaltney
Stephanie GwaltneyYOGA - Hatha Flow Yoga
Stephanie was raised in the countryside of Suffolk surrounded by woods, animals, and art. These influences have since become lifelong passions, thereby contributing to the development of her personal and professional life.
From adolescence to adulthood, Stephanie has consistently sought opportunities to further creativity, expand spirituality, and build authentic connections. Much of this yearning is rooted in growing up with scoliosis. Having a spinal deformity provided a unique perspective regarding her physical limitations, social acceptance, and self-worth.
It was this awareness that fueled Stephanie’s passion to teach art; a subject based in the expression of one’s individuality. For 15 years, Stephanie taught art in the Suffolk Public School system empowering young people to own their truth and express themselves through creative formats.
In 2019, Stephanie began experiencing intolerable scoliosis pain, prompting her to move beyond her physical insecurities and try yoga. After her first Hatha Yoga session, Stephanie was hooked. Shortly after, she registered for a 3-month Yoga Immersion Program led by Selena Kipnis, (owner of Organic Roots, LLC Suffolk, VA). Encouraged and motivated by this wealth of knowledge, Stephanie desired to bridge her newfound love of yoga with her first love of teaching art. As a result, Stephanie became certified in Therapeutic Art Instruction (Transformation Academy), with the intent to unite emotional intelligence and cognitive behavior with visual expressions. Stephanie currently provides Therapeutic Art practices at her studio, Art-Ventures, LLC located in Suffolk.
Inevitably, her excitement for learning gained momentum and led to her Usui Reiki Level I attunement, participation in Sudarshan Kriya’s SKY Breathing Method pranayama retreat, completion of Sadhguru’s Inner Engineering Comprehensive Course, and becoming 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Certified.
Stephanie feels connection with others is paramount for living a fully open existence. Teaching art and yoga provides an unbiased platform that dismantles the illusionary walls of separation, thereby establishing soul connections with limitless possibilities.
Barbara Harris
Barbara HarrisPlein Air Painting
Barbara Ann Harris started painting when she was eight years old. Barbara developed her painting skills by taking classes and workshops from local and internationally known artists and she has painted and traveled around the USA and Europe. Barbara enjoys sharing her art with others and has taught classes for the past 20+ years in pastel, acrylic, and oils. Barbara has lived in Suffolk since 1988 and enjoys painting local water scenes and landscapes.
Phoenix Lampkin
Phoenix LampkinCreative Writing
Phoenix Lampkin, an enthusiastic wordsmith is a graduate of the famed Duke Ellington School of the Arts; who wants nothing more than to share their passion for creative expression with you.
Larry McMasters
Larry McMastersPhotography
Professional photographer in Tidewater for over 30 years specializing in black & white portraiture and weddings. Hometown raised in Chesapeake with eight grand children. Other interest: running, family, church, cycling, playing trombone in orchestra & big band jazz. Teaching photography at SCCA since 2005.
Rami McKinney
Rami McKinneyBasket Weaving
I am a Navy wife and mother of two, and basket weaving has been a passion of mine for nearly 20 years. I first took basket weaving classes in 2001, while we were stationed in Hawaii, and fell in love! I have been making baskets ever since, and have taught classes to spread the love of this lost art everywhere the Navy has stationed us. I can teach basket weaving classes to children 11 & up and adults.
I continually improve on my own designs, and produce a wide range of styles, from colorful contemporary to a more traditional product. I would love to see market baskets brought to the farmer’s market to hold peoples’ purchases again!

Lisa Morrison
Lisa Morrison Ceramics
Lisa Morrison is our lead pottery instructor at the Suffolk Center. When the name Lisa Morrison is spoken, you can expect a big smile to be accompanied by overwhelming excitement. A veteran public school art educator, Lisa currently teaches at Southwestern Elementary School. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in working with learners of all ages and different abilities.
Cynthia A. Quesenberry
Cynthia A. QuesenberryMetal Clay Arts, Ceramics, Printmaking and Metalsmithing
Cynthia Quesenberry earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Art Education from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, she later earned a Master’s Degree from Troy State University, Troy, Alabama. She has continued the study of Ceramics, Printmaking and Metalsmithing at Universities and Craft Schools around the USA.

Her teaching experience includes elementary Art education for the City of Portsmouth Public Schools, Renaissance School of the Arts, Suffolk Art Gallery, Suffolk Art League, Rawls Museum Arts in Courtland, and she currently teaches Art for Suffolk Public Schools at Oakland Elementary School. She currently teaches classes for children, and precious metal clay classes for adults in several Art Schools and Galleries.

She has been working with precious metals (silver and copper) and teaching classes for the past 10 years in silver and copper metal craft. In late 2017 she completed a rigorous qualification process for Senior Instructor status with the International Art

Clay World and is also a certified instructor for the Rio Grande Precious Metals and Gemstones Company. She holds three instructor certifications for Precious Metals and teaches silver jewelry classes in Art Centers, Galleries, in the local Hampton Roads area. She continues to further her precious metals education with the best instructors throughout the United States.

She has been the featured artist in the Virginian Pilot, Suffolk Living Magazine, and the Coastal Carolina Crafters Guild. She is a member and registered instructor of the international organization Alliance for Metal Clay Arts Worldwide (AMCAW).

Rachel Vredenburg
Rachel VredenburgCeramics and Pottery
Rachel is one of the pottery/ceramics instructors at the Suffolk Center. She has been making pottery since 2012. She is a graduate of Old Dominion University with a Bachelor’s in Studio Art. Most of Rachel’s works are inspired by nature and are reflected in her art.