Our Instructors

Alicia teaches preschool for Westside. She loves to teach painting, sculpture, and general art. She loves teaching art to everyone! She has a Bachelor of Art degree in Studio Art and K-12 Education with a minor in Art History.

Alicia teaches Art 1 and Intro to Media at Ralston.

Aly is skilled in playing the ukulele, is a singer songwriter, vocal coach and mentor, master of ceremonies and event promoter. Aly likes teaching for AFA because she loves the determination and diversity of her students. She also loves her fellow instructors, saying, “They are some of the most talented artists I know.” Aly runs a very successful open mic every Wednesday for the past seven years, originally at the Side Door Lounge, currently at Down Under on 3530 Leavenworth. For the past five years, she has volunteered her time mentoring young, promising artists. Her first young artist just signed with BMG records – very exciting! She loves working with young people and giving them a platform to share their thoughts and ideas. She has recorded on my local albums including Mitch Oettman and Collin Smith of the Cosmic Smiths and is currently working on releasing her Lullaby album. She performs regularly thaught Omaha and the United States. Aly has a cable show on Omaha’s cable channel KPAO (ch. 22) that highlights local songwriters and poets, called Omaha Sound. They are currently working on a second season. She has been nominated three times for Omaha Entertainment Arts Awards’ best singer songwriter and “Artist of the Year”. She has a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Anthropology with a focus on archaeology from Iowa State University. Personal Note: “ I believe it is so important for us to encourage young people to find creative outlets in life. It is a privilege to teach people music and songwriting as a means of processing our lives.”

Aly teaches Ukulele at Westgate.

Betsy is an instructor who teaches all levels of Piano for AFA. She has taught piano for 30 years and received a Bachelors in Music/Liberal Arts from the University of Kearney in Nebraska. She says she likes teaching for AFA because she loves working with kids. 

Betsy teaches Piano 2 & 3 at Benson, Westgate, South O, and Ralston.

Candace has a Music Degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2014. She is also co-owner of Music With Us and owner of CMG Music.

Candace teaches Voice at Benson.

Catherine teaches Art 1 and Intro to Media at Westgate.

Dane is an Instructor who teaches Drums for AFA. Dane has been playing drums since he was thirteen and has studied under many professional musicians such as Luigi Waites, Joe Voda, Bob Edson, and Jim Elsberry. He has opened for many professional musicians such as John Denver, Reba McIntire, Charlie Daniels, Roger Miller, Tony Orlando, Louise Mandrell, and Lee Greenwood.

A veteran, he served for thirteen years in the United States Air Force Band performing in jazz, rock, country, concert and marching bands and as lead and harmony vocalist. Currently, Dane tours Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas in a classic rock band and substitutes for country, blues and big bands.

Dane teaches Drums 1 & 2 and Drums for Adults at Benson and Westgate.

Donald  is an Instructor who teaches Violin for AFA. Donald started violin lessons at the age of five every week. He studied under Debbie Greenblatt in Avoca who uses the fiddling method. Currently, Donald studies under Bill Wolcott with the hopes of getting a degree in performance. ​

Donald teaches Violin at Old Mill.

Jim is an Instructor who teaches Painting and Drawing for AFA.  Jim has been teaching for AFA for 8 years and enjoys watching students grow from beginning painters/drawers into very exceptional artists over many years. Jim has a BFA and an MFA in Art and has shown and sold art on a national and international level. 

In his current work, Jacobi has been working on many commissioned works that offer many varieties in style and media with emphasis on color, line, and stroke. Philosophically, Jacobi feels that the world outside the canvas is our reality and what is created on canvas is a new reality which we create. It is our way of giving creativity back to the universe from which it came–which any of us can be lucky enough to experience.

Jim teaches Painting for Adults at Benson and Westgate.

Justin is an Instructor who teaches Guitar for AFA. 
He believes his instruction becomes the foundation for students to eventually have the ability to turn to music as a form of self-expression. Anyone who watches his students can quickly realize that he’s doing something right; they excitedly rush into the classroom and leave smiling, oftentimes humming a new tune they learned during the session. Justin is a guitar teacher who has the ability to get his students excited about playing an instrument.

His creative pursuits extend beyond guitar. He has performed spoken word poetry around Omaha and currently involved with the SYMO National Poetry Slam team. How does he find the time to squeeze so many pursuits into his life? It’s simple: he loves what he does.

Justin teaches Guitar 1 & 2 at Benson and Old Mill.

Kim is an Instructor who teaches Acting/Improv and Creative Writing classes for AFA. Kim has also had the opportunity to teach in AFA’s enrichment programs at several Omaha Public Schools and with ZAP!(Zoo Afterschool Program). Growing up Kim loved pretend play – whether she was a fairy tale princess, a superhero, or a little kitty. In high school and college, Kim still loves performing for an audience, especially if she has the chance to make them laugh.

Along with acting, Kim’s second passion is writing. In college she chose to major in journalism while still participating in campus theatre. After graduation she worked in several journalistic/business fiends, including newspapers, marketing, and public relations. She is currently a freelance writer and paraprofessional with LaVista Junior High.


Laurel teaches drawing at Old Mill.

Liz is an Instructor who teaches Visual Art for AFA. Liz was educated in England at West Surrey College of Art and Design in Farnham, Surrey, one of the only art colleges in England to offer a B.A. Hons. in Fine Art Printmaking. 

Newman’s studies included an emphasis on the Influences of Japanese Printmaking on Post-Impressionists. Newman has shown her prints, primarily relief and lithography, in galleries in both the United States and England. She has pieces in various collections such as the Wiggin Teap Company and at the University of London. Since moving back to the U.S., Newman taught art and recently began focusing on art education for children while she raised her own children. Newman has also worked with Omaha Public Schools as an educational paraprofessional.

Liz teaches Intro to Media at Benson.

Maria teaches Guitar 1 & 2 at Ralston.

Michelle is an Instructor who teaches Piano for AFA. Michelle started taking piano lessons at the age of 7 and went on to get a Vocal Performance degree from Liberty University. She has been teaching piano and voice lessons from her home studio and at AFA since 2008. She is also a part of her church’s worship team and use to sing in the Omaha Symphonic Chorus. She now enjoys sharing the love of music with her own kids too.

Michelle teaches Piano 1 at Westgate.

Ramón specializes in Music Appreciation (basic teaching in music theory, strings, Guitar, Guitarrón, Vihuela, Vocals, Mariachi) and has skills in percussion (drums/piano). With the help of AFA, Ramón  enjoys watching his students’ interest in learning an instrument and their pride of showing what they’ve learned in a recital/performance. 

He has over 40 years experience in performance and teaching. He organized Mariachi Zapata in 1989 (still performing). Mariachi Zapata has performed throughout the midwest: Nebraska State Fair (approx. 15 years), Howard Churro Cafe (24 years; 1991-2015), Latino Heartland Fiesta (2000-2016). Ramón was nominated four times for the OEAA or Omaha Entertainment Arts Awards (2014-2018).

He received a Bachelor of Science in Music Merchandising (business, music, education;1984) and a Child Development Associate (1990-1992) and a Master of Arts in Education/Adult Education/Training (2012).

Professional Email: mariachizapata@yahoo.com.

“You’re never too young or too late to learn and teach music (education)”

Rick  is an Instructor who teaches Drawing and Painting for AFA. Rick holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education from the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA. He specializes in illustration and watercolor painting. Rick enjoys teaching at AFA because of the opportunity to learn from his students as much as they learn from him. He believes that teaching pushes him to be an even better artist.

Rick teaches Drawing/Painting and Intro to Media at Benson.

Robert teaches Guitar at Benson.

Sarah is an Instructor who teaches Visual Arts for AFA. She has a K-12 Arts Education degree from Coe College in Cedar Rapids and is a substitute for Omaha Public and Council Bluffs Schools.

Sarah teaches Drawing and Intro to Media at Westgate.

Our Site Coordinators

Ali Flores: Westgate, South O, Ralston, Old Mill
Carol McCormick: Benson, Westgate, Old Mill
Stephannie Johnson: Benson, Ralston

Our Administration

Judy Mallory, Founder and Executive Director
Stephannie Johnson, Assistant Director
Maija Rutmanis, Office Manager
Tad Spencer, Grant Writer