Happening at SteppingStone

Teaching Artists

Meet Our Teaching Artists!

SteppingStone partners with a number of incredibly talented and highly qualified Performance Artists from around the Twin Cities. Our Teaching Artists have extensive experience working with youth, are annually background-checked, and are held to a high standard of Best Practices in the classroom. Collectively, these Artists and Educators provide your students with a high-quality, engaging, and age-appropriate theatre learning experience.



Aaron Preusse (he/him)
Specialty: Stage Combat
Aaron is the Founder and Grand High PooBah of the Fake Fighting Company. He is also the Mid America Regional Rep and a Certified Teacher and Fight Director with the Society of American Fight Directors. In addition, Aaron received honors of Advanced Gold with Recommendation from the British Academy of Dramatic Combat. He has served as Fight Director for the Guthrie Theater, the Ordway Center for Performing Arts, Minnesota Opera, the Children’s Theatre Company’s Theatre Arts Training Senior and Junior Intensives, Commonweal Theatre Company, Park Square Theatre, Gremlin Theatre, Theatre in the Round, Theatre Pro Rata, Red Bird Theatre, Skylark Opera, Lyric Arts Company of Anoka, the Old Log Theatre, as well as many other theatres, schools and universities in the region. Aaron has taught for the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, the University of Minnesota, Concordia University of St. Paul, North Hennepin Community College, the Guthrie Theatre, the Children’s Theatre Company, Lyric Arts Company of Anoka, Park Square Theatre, the Minnesota Thespian Festival, the Society of American Fight Directors along with many other institutions. He is a graduate of the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Abigail Chagolla (she/her)
Specialty: Devised Theatre, PreK
Abigail Chagolla is an actress, musician, teaching artist, and director. Originally from Iowa, she graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a double degree in Theatre Performance and Communications. Abigail has recently moved here and has enjoyed her time so far, working with theatres around the area like CLIMB theatre, Teatro de pueblo, Directors Works in Phoenix Theatre, and Prime Productions. Abigail believes that theatre and play are for everyone and strives to create a space where all experiences, backgrounds, and styles are welcomed. A huge child at heart, she loves working with children to create a world where anything is possible, and if she can include her Latina roots and her love for kpop in it that would be enough.
Alli St. John (she/her)
Specialty: Directing, Devising
Alli St. John is a theatre artist originally from the Cleveland, Ohio area. She specializes in directing, devising, and teaching acting, puppetry, and playwriting. Most recently, Alli has served as a preschool drama specialist (Cleveland, OH), a teaching artist with Childsplay (Tempe, AZ), and Artistic Director for Thought Bubble Theatre Festival. She holds an MFA in Theatre for Youth and Community from Arizona State University, where she focused her research on building cultures of consent in educational theatre.
Ansa Akyea (he/him)
Specialty: Acting
Ansa is a Swiss born Ghanaian-American actor and proud graduate of the University of Iowa's distinguished Masters of Fine Arts Acting program. Ansa has worked as an actor and director at some of the best local and regional theaters throughout the Twin Cities, such as the Guthrie Theater, Mixed Blood, and Ten Thousand Things. He can also be seen and heard on film, radio, and television. Ansa is the recipient of the 2011 Minnesota Playwright Center's McKnight Award for Acting, Citypages Best Actor Award 2007, and the 2013 Minnesota Playwright Center's Many Voices Fellowship, and an Ivey Award for the Guthrie Theater's production of Clybourne Park.
Austin Stiers (he/him)
Specialty: Technical Theatre
Joining Park Square as the Technical Director in 2021, Austin is a theatre artist and technician originally from Cedar Falls Iowa. While his primary emphasis is scenery and properties, he can be found working in all facets of theatre design. Austin has taught shop techniques and skills with Kearney High School, Cedar Falls High School, The University of Northern Iowa, and Sturgis Youth Theatre, but perhaps his favorite project was touring with Palette of Possibility, a devised piece, geared toward youth, committed to nonverbal and sensory friendly exploration of the world around us. When not working on shows or teaching, Austin likes to build replica props from his favorite TV shows and movies. Austin graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, with a B.A. in Theatre and an emphasis in Design and Production.
Chelsea Rose (she/her)
Specialty: Dance
Chelsea grew up dancing in the Twin Cities and realized pretty early on dance was her passion. Chelsea's performance career began over in the west coast where she had the opportunity to work on numerous film, television and music video projects. Since returning to the Twin Cities she has loved stepping into the role of an instructor and choreographer. Being able to share her passion and inspire young dancers brings her so much joy! Many of Chelsea's dances have been recognized for choreography and entertainment in the competition dance scene. Chelsea has choreographed for Ashland Productions, Hill Murray, Spotlight Education, and will be working with Twin Cities Theatre Camp. She is also a working performer in the St. Paul-Minneapolis Metro area. She has done commercial work, is a company member of Collide Theatrical and has worked in theatres such as The Ordway and History Theatre!
Dane Stauffer (he/him)
Specialty: Adult Acting & Storytelling
Dane Stauffer’s career spans cabaret, theater, film, television, and radio. Dane recently sang in Brand New Day: Breaking Barriers/A Cabaret at the Ordway, where he also recently starred as Scrooge in Dolly Parton’s Smokey Mountain Christmas Carol. He’s starred as Roger Caldwell in the IVEY award winning musical Glensheen, (Returning Summer 2022 to History Theatre, and Original Cast Album just released). He has toured Ireland in Triple Espresso, garnered “Best Actor in a comedy” LA Stage Scene for All in the Timing, and “Best Actor in a Musical ” Broadway World for Glensheen. While in Los Angeles, he became a staple singing at Sunset Strip’s House of Blues, the Cafe Was with Jeff Goldblum on the keys, Herb Alpert’s Vibe Room and Yoshi’s with Estaire Godinez, and the LA Blues Festival, and locally, most recently in The Love Show at the O’Shaughnessy Valentines day w/ Kevin Kling and company. Dane continues to teach empowerment through storytelling and theatre arts to children and adults in all settings.
Dominic DeLong-Rodgers (he/him)
Specialty: Devised Theatre
Dominic DeLong-Rodgers is an actor and teaching artist based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He has been a member of the performing company with Classical Actors Ensemble for the past three years, and has helped to originate innovative immersive theater with Sparkle Theatricals of Minneapolis. In addition to SteppingStone, Dominic has taught courses and workshops with Macalester College, Children’s Theatre Company, and Classical Actors Ensemble. He holds a BA in Theater and Dance from Macalester College.
Erin Granger (she/her)
Specialty: Arts Admin, Theatre Exploration
Erin Granger is an arts administrator, educator, actor, dancer, director, and producer with over a decade of professional experience in the twin cities arts & entertainment scene. She has collaborated on projects with SteppingStone, Park Square, Theatre in the Round, Lakeshore Players, Shakespeare & Co., and various film production companies, in addition to being a member of Mosaic Productions, a small local theatre company. As an educator, Erin specializes in devised theatre, movement, world-building, scene study, and directing. A native of Fargo, ND, Erin served as the Education Program Assistant for Trollwood Performing Arts School while completing her degree in Theatre Performance & Directing from Minnesota State University Moorhead. For the past seven years, Erin has served as the Creative Learning Manager for SteppingStone, where she finds immense joy in developing hundreds of arts learning opportunities for young theatre-makers.
Hannah Mahr (they/them)
Specialty: Movement, PreK
An educator, physical theatre artist, dancer, and vocalist, Hannah Mahr has taught with Young People's Theater Workshop, The Northfield Arts Guild, SteppingStone Theatre for Youth, Park Square Theatre, and Merrill Arts Center. As a teaching artist, they strive to create collaborative, brave spaces where young artists are empowered to connect with their bodies, tell their own stories, and process new concepts through movement, improvisation, and play. Hannah works full-time at Interact Center for Visual & Performing Arts as their Performing Arts Instructor. Previously, Hannah served as the Creative Learning Program Coordinator for SteppingStone, developing and facilitating programming for all ages. They studied at Gustavus Adolphus College, graduating with a B.A. in Theatre with Honors and minors in Dance, English, and Comparative Literature.
Isabella Dunsieth (she/her)
Specialty: Devised Theatre, Comedy
Isabella is a graduate of the UMN/Guthrie BFA Actor Training Program. Her true passion is being a complete buffoon and making people laugh. Though comedy is her first love, she also has significant experience in writing, directing, dramaturgy, and teaching artistry. She hopes to develop devised work while continuing her acting/comedy & teaching journey within the Twin-Cities.
Jack Bonko (he/him)
Specialty: Devised Theatre
Jack Bonko is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where he earned degrees in Theatre (Acting) and Integrated Public Relations & Advertising. Before joining the staff of Teaching Artists at SteppingStone, Jack spent five years as a SteppingStone Classroom Assistant during the summer camp season. Since then, Jack has taught a variety of theatre classes and directed student productions all across the metro with several notable arts organizations. Jack is an active member of Twin Cities Theatre Community. Watch for him on a stage near you!
Jane Froiland (she/her)
Specialty: PreK, Devised Theatre
A St. Paul-based actor, director, and teaching artist, Jane has taught with Lakeshore Players, Youth Performance Company, Stages Theatre, Yellow Tree Theatre, and many more. Onstage, she has appeared with Children’s Theatre Company, Park Square Theatre, Mixed Blood, Jungle Theatre, Frank Theatre, Ten Thousand Things, Old Log , Dark and Stormy, and Gremlin, among others. Jane directs the Spring play at Woodbury High School, is the Head Coach of the White Bear Speech Team, and is a performer with Science Live Theatre at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Jen Scott (she/her)
Specialty: Comedy, Devised Theatre
As a teaching artist, Jen Scott loves creating a safe space where students can open up as much or as little as they like, and take the risk that is the right size for them in that moment. Jen was an artist-in-residence at Pillsbury House + Theater for over 6 years, and has also taught for HUGE Theater, the Brave New Student Union, Children’s Theatre Company, Park Square Theatre, and others. She is dedicated to informal science education, and has performed for the Bakken Museum, and written and performed for the Science Museum of Minnesota. Jen performs improv regularly at HUGE Theater, and also does scripted work: recent stage credits include Uprising Theatre, Mystery Cafe’ Inc., Hennepin Theater Trust, Red Eye Theater, Four Humors Theater, and others. She’s been a featured performer at the Twin Cities Improv Festival, The Toronto Improv Festival, The Great American Comedy Festival, and is part of Show X, a weekly invite-only all-star long-form improv performance.
Katie Knutson (she/her)
Specialty: Adult Storytelling
Katie Knutson is a Professional Storyteller and Teaching Artist who has been featured at storytelling festivals in the US, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates. She regularly teaches classes and leads workshops for adults and children, and even spent a year teaching storytelling and drama in Chile. Her writing has been featured in Storytelling Magazine, Tomorrow’s Storytellers Today, and two books about integrating storytelling into classroom curriculum. She recently completed 17 years of serving on the Boards of various non-profits including Story Arts of MN, Northlands Storytelling Network, National Storytelling Network, and Youth, Educators & Storytellers Alliance. Learn more about Katie and her work at www.ripplingstories.com
Kiera Stegall (she/her)
Specialty: Devised Theatre, PreK
An animated storyteller and educator, Kiera has experience working with children from birth through upper elementary school since 2005. After years of professional storytelling, Kiera joined the world of children's theater in 2017. Encouraging the creativity and imagination of children, she loves bringing characters and stories to life on stage. Using process art, devised theater concepts, and children’s literature, Kiera cultivates a creative and supportive environment where all children are welcomed as artists and actors. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in spirituality and the arts, researching how devised theatre can be used to teach upper elementary students about transformative justice.
Laurie Dehmlow (she/her)
Specialty: PreK, Music
A music educator, Laurie has multiple accreditations including a B.S. in Music Education and a M.M. in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy. As a performing artist she has been in several musical theatre and chamber opera productions in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. In addition to teaching classes for Steppingstone (since 1992), Laurie teaches children's music literacy and private voice lessons at St. Joseph's School of Music, Children's Theatre Company, and local elementary schools. Additionally, Laurie direct two children's church choirs.
Max Clifford (he/him)
Specialty: Music
Motivated and passionate music educator Max Clifford values creating meaningful musical experiences with all students he works with. Max strives for diversity and equity in all aspects of student experiences and works to provide students a safe outlet to showcase their individual strengths and interests. A recent graduate from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, Max brings a wide variety of artistic and educational experiences to SteppingStone. In addition to being an active violinist, Max has training in vocal pedagogy and youth/adolescent vocal development and has a particular interest in helping young students connect with their natural musicality through singing and movement. Max is a licensed K-12 music educator focused on teaching middle & high school music courses.
Megan Flød Johnson (she/her)
Specialty: Arts Admin, Theatre Exploration
Megan Flød Johnson is an interdisciplinary theatre artist and educator who seeks to disrupt dominant narratives and expectations around arts experiences for youth and families to designate space for process, experimental thinking, play and multiple points of view. She exhibits her work and consults with arts organizations that honor young people as artists and makers around the country including Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Megan is an inaugural 2019-'20 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow in performance awarded by the Jerome Foundation. Learn more about her work at www.meganflod.org and her installation project, The NEST at www.thenestiscoming.com. Megan serves as the Interim Director of Creative Learning for SteppingStone and Park Square.
Meghan (Mac) McLaughlin (she/they)
Specialty: Technical Theatre
An Artist, Designer, Drafter, Teacher and Production Manager, Mac worked as the Scene Shop Supervisor at South Dakota State University and assisted teaching in her free time. Currently they are working on their Masters in Arts and Cultural Leadership at the University of Minnesota while working as the Production Manager at Park Square Theater. As a teaching artist Mac specializes in visual arts, theater technology and scenic design. Her goals with teaching are to get students involved in backstage work of theater, teaching anyone the skills needed to work in technical theater and build the confidence of students off stage.
Michael Rogers (he/him)
Specialty: Devised Theatre, Comedy
Michael is a Minneapolis-based actor, arts educator, director, improviser, and playwright. He has performed, directed, and taught on over a dozen twin cities stages including the Brave New Workshop MainStage, HUGE Theater, with the 2018 City Pages’ “Best Theater Troupe” winning Sheep Theater, and as part of the Minnesota Fringe Festival. He loves all things theater, is a big ol’ nerd, and has a shockingly vast collection of miniatures he painted during the pandemic.
Mikaela Moe (she/her)
Specialty: Devised Theatre
Mikaela is a recent graduate of Bethel University's Musical Theatre/Acting and Directing B.A. Program. With minors in Leadership and Film, Mikaela finds ways to incorporate those into her teaching. Mikaela is a theatre performer and educator around the Twin Cities, and comes from a background of teaching Special Education. Mikaela has also had the opportunity to live and train in New York City, where she interned with a theatre company in Times Square, and trained at a professional acting studio. Outside of theatre, Mikaela runs a small Etsy shop called Bushel and Peck Soap, where she enjoys bringing her visual artist side to life by making creative, and gorgeous one of a kind soaps, greeting cards, and other stationery products.
Pedro Bayón (he/him)
Specialty: Devised Theatre, Acting
With over 30 years of experience, Pedro is a Theatre Artist and Teaching Artist from Puerto Rico. He has worked with local companies including The Ordway, Teatro del Pueblo, Children's Theatre Company, Park Square Theatre, Ten Thousand Things, and Mixed Blood, amongst others. Motivating minds to explore their creative potential is what motivates Pedro to keep teaching and mentoring students ages 5-85.
Shae Palic (she/her)
Specialty: Devised Theatre, Acting
Shae has been a Teaching Artist with the University of Minnesota BFA Acting Program in the capacity of Assistant Director and Intimacy Workshop Facilitator since 2016. In addition to SteppingStone, Shae is also a Teaching Artist with Lyric Arts and the Saint Paul School District. She received her degree from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre BFA Actor Training Program.
Sylvia Michels (she/her)
Specialty: Devised Theatre, Music
Sylvia graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a BA in Theatre and immediately went to work acting and directing across the United States. She has over 15 years of experience in the theatre/film industry and established a K-5 theatre program at a charter school in Eden Prairie, where she also serves as the Student Program Specialist. When not teaching, acting, or directing, Sylvia enjoys photography, drawing, cooking, gardening and singing with the Elizabethan Syngers at the MN Renaissance Festival.
Taj Ruler (she/her)
Specialty: Comedy, Acting
Taj is an actor, improviser, voice over artist, and teacher around the Twin Cities. She has worked at Pillsbury House Theatre, Park Square Theater, Mixed Blood Theatre, The Playwrights Center, The Brave New Workshop, and more. As a teaching artist, Taj specialises in improvisation and character development. Her overall goals in the classroom are creating a strong ensemble, to be bold and take risks, respect one another, and most of all to have fun!
Terrell Woods (he/him)
Specialty: Music
An established Hip Hop Artist, Terrell Woods (aka Carnage The Executioner) has spent over 20 years making music and working with youth and adults from all walks of life and various socio-economic backgrounds. He possesses a knack for establishing strong and healthy relationships. His specialties include fostering personal and artistic growth and helping all people find the voices they might not identify with just yet. Terrell stands firm in his support and practice of provoking positive self-expression, nurturing leadership skills, and speaking in favor of social justice. 10+ years of teaching beat boxing/vocal percussion and song writing has helped him build an impressive artist resume that extends all the way to Europe.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement

At SteppingStone, we are committed to access and inclusion for all people. We stand firmly in opposition to racism, and our programs challenge our young artists, staff, and Board of Directors to foster inclusion and seek equity for all, including Black people, Indigenous peoples, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, people of all economic backgrounds, people of all religions, and people with disabilities. SteppingStone collaborates with families to meet students’ needs, whether they are social, academic, developmental, or physical.

We Believe

Young people are artists, makers, and doers. They need to belong and to contribute to their world. When young people make art together, they change themselves and the world around them for the better.

We Do

SteppingStone ignites belonging, generosity, mastery, self-advocacy, and inspiration by creating art with young people to share with the world.