Ellen Anne Burtner - Various Media

Ellen Anne Burtner has a BFA focusing in oil and egg tempera painting and printmaking from Southwestern University. She discovered the joy of creating in a cooperative environment while interning with two artists in NYC. Ellen Anne started assisting Lauri Cragg with classes three years ago and under Lauri’s instruction explored watercolor, pastel, and collage. Ellen Anne continued her printmaking education with classes at the Glassell Studio School after graduating which inspired her to start the Printmaking and Drawing classes at MDUMC. She now helps teach Multi Media, Collage, Printmaking, Watercolor, Pastel, and Drawing, as well as assisting with the student age classes. She takes every opportunity to include animals in a project as well as the color purple! 


Emma Center - Children’s Musical Theatre

Born and raised in Houston, TX, Emma Center has been studying theatre and dance for over 16 years. She grew up in MDUMC, was a member of the Agape Singers throughout middle and high school, and was the student director and president of Agape her senior year.

Emma will receive her BFA in Acting in the spring of 2018 from the University of Texas at Austin. Emma performed in multiple main-stage productions at UT, and was nominated in 2016 by the Austin Critics Table for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Her work experience includes teaching both children with and without disabilities ages 4-20 at programs in Houston including: The River Visual and Performing Arts Center, Houston Academy of Dance, and Westside High School Inclusive Theatre. Emma founded The Spotlight Project to teach inclusive musical theatre classes to children in the West Houston community.

Currently she lives in Los Angeles, CA where she is pursuing an acting career in television and film. Emma plans to return frequently to MDUMC to continue her work with The Spotlight Project. She hopes one day to direct multiple Spotlight Project camps and classes across the country.

Emma believes that studying the performing arts is vital to all young minds and can help encourage creativity, bravery, teamwork, and empathy. 


Lauri Cragg - Multi Media

Lauri Cragg is a Houston-based artist specializing in water-based media. She has her B.A. in Studio Art and Psychology from Southwestern University and holds a Masters in Occupational Therapy.  Lauri currently attends the Glassell School of Art through the MFAH. She teaches art classes for all ages in her studio in West Houston.


Jessie Cragg Dugan - Multi Media

Jessie grew up in West Houston then attended Southwestern University, obtaining a BFA in Painting & Printmaking. She then went to graduate school at Parsons School of Design, focusing in Accessory Design. After working as an accessory designer in NYC for companies including rag & bone, Henri Bendel, and Tory Burch, she moved back to Houston with her husband Kyle. She now has her own accessories brand JESSIE DUGAN and teaches Multi Media at MDUMC.

Pamela Dixon Ferworn - Watercolor

Pamela Dixon Ferworn, a native of Canada, is a Houston-based artist specializing in watercolors.  She has a B.Sc. in Neuropsychology & Linguistics from the University of Calgary and a Masters Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Alberta.  Pam’s love of art was inspired by her grandfather, Cliff Leach.  However, it was not until she moved to Houston in 1996 that she began to take art classes through the Houston School of Art & Design and the Watercolor Art Society of Houston (WAS-H). Since that time, Pam has focused on watercolors and has had her paintings featured at WAS-H monthly shows.  She continues to study art through WAS-H, tutorials and workshops.  This is her first year teaching watercolors in conjunction with Lauri Cragg & Ellen Anne Burtner. 

Cindy Friedman - Flute

Flutist Cindy Friedman, a native of Wisconsin, moved to Houston, Texas in the Fall of 2010 where she was able to combine her two passions, teaching and performing.  Ms. Friedman currently teaches in many Houston area schools including The Kinkaid School, Memorial High School, and Klein Oak High School, as well as runs her own private flute studio. In addition to teaching young aspiring flutists, Ms. Friedman has given many solo and chamber music recitals as well as performed with groups such as the American Festival for the Arts, Divisi Strings, Texas Music Festival, Houston Symphonic Band, and serves as Secretary of the Houston Flute Club.  Her most recent accomplishments include joining the Cypress Symphony as Principal Flutist and serving as Adjunct Professor of Flute at Lone Star College-Tomball.

Before settling in Houston, Ms. Friedman received her Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Minnesota studying with Immanuel Davis and then went on to complete her Master’s Degree in Flute Performance at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, City University of New York where she was a student of Keith Underwood.  During her residency in New York City, Ms. Friedman gave two world premieres of chamber pieces, one of which was written for her own chamber group, won the 2009 Aaron Copland School of Music Concerto Competition, gave her debut performance with the New York Composer’s Circle, and began her own private flute studio.  Other influential teachers include Aralee Dorough, Judy Mendenhall, Linda Nielsen-Korducki, as well as Renee Krimsier and Marianne Gedigian whom Ms. Friedman studied with at the Brevard Music Center Summer Festival in 2009.

Sara Gaston - Acting and Comedy

Students of Sara’s have booked parts in commercials, films and television; booked stage roles (including the Alley); are routinely accepted into talent agencies; and have been accepted into acting programs locally (the Alley, TUTS), in New York, in L.A., and at the university level.

Sara Gaston has been acting for over 25 years.  She recently returned from studying at the Groundlings in Los Angeles.  She has appeared in countless indie films, web series, commercials (local & national), industrials, performed improv and sketch comedy, as well as animation and voice-over.  She has performed on various stages throughout Houston including The Alley Theatre, the Hobby Center, Main Street Theater, and Stages.  She has worked with Tony and Obie-winning directors.    She received a B.A. in Drama from the University of Texas in Austin and has continued her studies with various instructors including: The Margie Haber Studio in L.A., Jeff Perry of “Scandal” (also a founding member of the famed Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago), Kim Rubenstein (formerly of the Long Warf Theatre) and Dave Razowsky, Rick Kuhlman, & Sheldon Patinkin (Second City, L.A. & Chicago).  In addition, she assists local casting directors and has insight about what goes on behind the scenes.

Carolyn Haddad - Student Classes

Carolyn Haddad has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from University of North Texas, where her media specialty was photography. This led her to work in several photojournalism projects and later fashion photography projects in Houston and Paris, France, where she was the Guest Paris Editor for Vanity Fair magazine.  After returning to Houston, then two more stints in France, she began to concentrate on acrylic painting.  Her most recent work is with mixed media. She has a long association on the staff of several non-profit arts organizations in Houston such as FotoFest: The International Month of Photography and Houston Center for Photography.  Various contract projects include work for the Menil Collection, the Children’s Defense Fund, and the Anchorage Museum.  She has maintained a strong interest in education after teaching horseback riding for many years to all levels of students.  She has taken many classes from Lauri Cragg and she has been teaching the Elementary and Teen Student classes for MDUMC for three years. 

Eric Heaton - Piano

Eric Heaton has just joined the staff of MDUMC Music and Arts Center! Eric received his Bachelor of Musical Arts from DePauw University where he performed with many musical ensembles.  He performs and teaches in many musical settings from pop to classical music.  He has studies piano with Douglas Weeks, Lei Weng, Andrew Cooperstock, and Jihye Chung. At the DePauw University Piano Preparatory Program Eric was in charge of arranging recitals and events for the program.  Eric enjoys teaching children, youth, and adults and is passionate about finding the best path that suits his student’s individual needs and skills.

Justin Langham - Brass

Justin has a Masters degree in trumpet performance from the University of Houston where he has also served as staff arranger for the Spirit of Houston Marching Band.  He has a double degree in Trumpet performance and Composition from the University of Alabama.  Justin arranges for college and high school bands across the country including Lamar University, the University of Alabama, Marshall University and high schools in Texas and Alabama.

As a composer, Justin has written and conducted various works for numerous instruments, from full orchestras to small ensembles. As a performer, Justin is a member of the Houston Civic Symphony and often performs with Houston Ballet Orchestra.

Justin teaches all brass instruments at our Music and Arts Center.

Cheryl Lasater - Multi Media, Printmaking and Drawing

Cheryl graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Environmental Design and interned in Architecture until becoming a registered Architect. She met and married her best friend, Jeff, during this time and continued to work in architecture until the birth of their first child. Cheryl has always enjoy creating, drawing, painting, costume making (for their 3 kids), diy, gardening, etc. A friend introduced her to Lauri Cragg's Art Studio several years ago. It has been privileged for her to help teach Multi Media, Drawing, and Printmaking classes in the MDUMC Music and Arts Center. Your creativity is a muscle that needs exercise! Come join us!

Mary Lipnick - Student Classes and Pastel

I come from a very artistic and creative family.  I never felt like I had any artistic ability until I started taking art classes from Lauri Cragg about 14 years ago. Lauri helped me unleash my inner artist!  I started with basic drawing classes and progressed into painting with watercolors, acrylics, mixed media and pastels. As I learned more about pastel painting I fell in love with it, and now it is my medium of choice. About 3 years ago I started assisting with the adult pastel class and have enjoyed not only helping our students learn about pastels but also continuing to develop my own style of painting through teaching.  I also assist with the kid’s classes.  Kids have no fear and are so creative.  It is truly an amazing experience to help them develop their artistic abilities and watch them grow as young artists.

Kim Nash - Voice

Mrs. Nash begins lessons with an assessment of each student’s vocal range and musical abilities.  She works with students to improve sightreading abilities, further understanding of music theory, and learn more about music repertoire. Kim works to inspire her students to sing many genres of music. As a fan of Musical Theater Kim has performed roles in Tosca, The Fantasticks, Gallantry, Man of La Mancha, My Fair Lady. She has studied voice at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, and the University of Texas in Austin.  Her Ensemble work includes Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians, the University of  Texas Chamber Singers, Houston Chamber Singers, MDUMC Chancel Choir, and MDUMC Praise and Worship Band.  Mrs. Nash has been teaching students and adults since 2005.


Donna Reed Nichols - Spiritual Journaling, Collage and Student Classes

Before MDUMC developed the Music and Arts Center, students gathered in Lauri Cragg's private studio for classes. Donna was one of those original students, carving out time for art from her full-time position as director of Children's Ministries at MDUMC. Donna has studied with Lauri, Ellen Anne Burtner and others.  Several years ago, following her retirement from the church, Donna was asked to combine her theological education with her love of art, resulting in the addition of Spiritual Art Journaling to the Lauri Cragg Studio lineup. Donna has used her intuitive creativity and multi media expertice inspire the Collage and Journaling classes for the last three years.

Donna lives in Baytown with her husband Sonny.  When not in her art studio, Donna serves as the volunteer Director of Children's Ministries at First UMC La Port.

John Rhebergen - Clarinet, Alto and Tenor Saxophone

John Rhebergen teaches clarinet, alto, and tenor saxophone. John has been principle clarinetist with MDUMC Orchestra for the past 10 years. John is also a founding board member and teacher for Energy City New Horizons Music. John has performed as a soloist with the ECNH Traditional Jazz Combo, ECNH Big Band, and the MDUMC Saxophone Ensemble. John has also arranged music for the MDUMC Church Orchestra, ECNH String Orchestra, Symphonic Band, Saxophone Ensemble, and Big Band. John studied clarinet with Ray Scott of Fredonia State University.

John Sauri - Guitar

John has been playing guitar since the 1970s and is well versed in acoustic guitar styles used in American Folk, Rock & Roll, Country Blues, and Roots music. John performs regularly at local coffee houses and restaurants and has played from time to time in local rock bands, folk ensembles and roots music bands.

John teaches basic and intermediate guitar skills and helps students develop repertoire and skill sets specific to the styles of music that interest them. He enjoys teaching students of all ages, musical interest and skill level. In addition to guitar, John also plays banjo and bouzouki and has sung in several church choirs. He is currently an active member of Memorial Drive United Methodist Church.


Tina Throckmorton - Early Childhood Music & Movement

Tina Throckmorton studied Comparative Literature and Theatre and Dance at Princeton University. She lived in New York City for fifteen years, where she was a musical theatre performer and choreographer. She is passionate about music and the development of children and creates a fun, informal and engaging setting that supports each child's musical development. Tina is the proud mother of two children, and her family has found great joy in participating in Music Together® for many years. 

Rick Valentine - Piano

Rick is a professional piano instructor with over 30 years of experience teaching all ages (4-90) private and group lessons.  Mr. Valentine is very detail oriented and organized creating lesson plans in advanced and set goals for his students.  He also works to create performance opportunities for students through local music teacher association events, National Federation Festivals,  and state events through the Texas Music Association.  Mr. Valentine is in demand as an adjudicator and clinician throughout the U.S.  Rick Valentine is the Immediate Past President Texas Music Teachers Association. He was awarded the 2018 Teacher of the Year award by the Texas Music Teachers Association.


Anna Fay Williams - Life Stories

Anna Fay Williams holds a doctorate in health sciences from UT School of Public Health, where she taught and wrote about public policy issues before her retirement.  She has conducted life stories workshops over 14 years and is a certified instructor with the University of California-Davis, Birren Center for Autobiographical Studies.  She plays the cello in the Energy City New Horizons string orchestra hosted by MDUMC.


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