Meet Our Instructors
Bob Spindler – Silver Age Yoga
Bob has been practicing yoga for over 11 years. Shortly after being certified to teach yoga in 2007, he came to observe another yoga instructor teaching Silver Age Yoga to her students at the Riford Center. Shortly after, he was asked to teach an additional Silver Age Yoga class and has been teaching at the center, now La Jolla Community Center, ever since. In his spare time he likes to read, hike and travel as much as his “semi-retirement” permits.
John Tessmer – LJ Theatre Ensemble Director
John co-founded the La Jolla Theatre Ensemble (previously the Riford Readers Theatre) with Davida Huchel in March, 2010. The first performance was of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, which John directed and in which he played Eddie Carbone. Other productions John has directed and acted in here at the LJCC include Tuesdays with Morrie ( in which he played the role of Mitch), The Savannah Disputation, Steel Magnolias, Harvey (Elwood), Goodbye, Charlie (George Tracy), The Trip to Bountiful (Ticket Man, Sheriff), Over the River and Through the Woods (Nick), Rounding Third (Michael), Driving Miss Daisy, On Golden Pond (Bill Ray, Sr.), Morning’s at Seven (Homer), Grace & Glorie, The Gift of the Magi (Digsby)/Telling Wilde Tales (Woodcutter/Narrator/ Fisherman’s Soul/Ensemble), Chapter Two (George Schneider), the variety show “Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing,” and, most recently — just this April, Close Ties (Watson Frye).
John has a B.A. from Yale and an M.F.A. in Acting from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He spent six seasons with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival between graduate school and moving back to his home town of San Diego in 2001. Among others, he has acted with the Laguna Playhouse, Western Stage, the Eugene O’Neill Foundation, Idaho Rep, Monomoy Theatre, North Coast Repertory Theatre, Intrepid Shakespeare Company, Lamb’s Players, New Village Arts, Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company, Playwrights Project, Poor Players, Grassroots Greeks, 6th@ Penn/ Compass Theatre, Carlsbad PlayReaders, Orchestra Nova, San Diego Ballet, and the San Diego Shakespeare Society.
Paola Baracco – Italian: Beginner & Intermediate, Italian for Travelers
Paola Baracco: born and raised in the city of Torino in northern Italy, Paola graduated from the Universita degli Studi di Torino with a Literary Arts Master and Degree. She also achieved a Masters in Communications Technique at the University of Leeds (UK). In Italy she worked for 12 years for several worldwide Advertising Agencies as a Director of Client Relationships. She moved to San Diego in 2004 and has two kids. Paola started teaching Italian in private Schools (Italian Cultural Center), the La Jolla Community Center and Elementary Schools. Her passions are her kids, painting, reading, and doing yoga.
Amanda Penaloza-Banks – Ico-Dance
Amanda trained at London Contemporary Dance School, UK in the early 90’s and performed for ten years with European dance companies. She subsequently became a freelance teacher and choreographer working predominantly in Europe, with children and adults in the community and with dance professionals. In 2006, she undertook a two year professional development training in ‘Laban’ principles. These studies deepened her interest in developing a style of dancing that encourages internal balance and a connection with our bodies, our energy, our creative spirit and the surrounding environment. After relocating to California in 2012, Amanda created ‘Ico-Dance’, named after the icosahedron; the Platonic solid which is symbolic of water, emotion, flow and movement. To read more about Amanda, her poetry and her dance teaching, go to http://amandabanks.com
Anne Marie Welsh – Deep Healing Yoga and Deep Yoga Flow
Anne Marie still trains with Deep Yoga founders Bhava Ram and Laura Plumb and is certified as an instructor at the 500-hour level by their Deep Yoga School of Healing Arts and by the national Yoga Alliance. She has also trained extensively in Yoga Therapeutics, Vedic Therapy and Happy Back Yoga with Ram, physical therapist Rachel Krentzman, as well as Gary Kraftsow, Aadil Palkhivala, Rod Stryker and others. A yoga practitioner since 1999 and a yoga teacher since 2010, Anne Marie is an author, editor and writing coach with M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in English literature and drama. She was the San Diego Union-Tribune’s dance and theater critic for 25 years until Deep Yoga transformed her life and work.
Sherlie Miller – Qi Gong Style T’ai Chi
Sherlie has been practicing T’ai Chi since the 1980’s. She began teaching T’ai Chi and Qigong in 1998. There are weekly classes at the La Jolla Community Center, and in Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach. This short form of T’ai Chi is gentle meditative movement, a form that is easily learned and practiced. All are welcome to come to a class.
Patrick Anderson – Opera Wednesdays Co-Director
Patrick Anderson is the co-director of the Opera Wednesdays series, along with Derek Legg. He is a native Southern Californian, born and raised in Los Angeles. A long-time opera lover, Patrick has sung semi-professionally for many years. Back in a previous century, he sang a number of seasons with Opera a la Carte, Los Angeles’ premier Gilbert & Sullivan repertory company, and has recently taken part in operatic productions by the Pacific Lyric Association. Since moving to San Diego County, Patrick has sung with several notable choral ensembles, including Pacific Camerata and the Bach Collegium San Diego. He is the director of the North County Opera Soiree, a group of professional musicians who present classical concerts to benefit local charitities. Patrick lives in Fallbrook, where he spends his rare free time working in his enormous garden and tending to three very spoiled dogs.
Ester Castruita – Meditation and Inner Self Workout
Ester has studied and meditated for over 16 years and has led group meditations as a volunteer for more than 9 years but it wasn’t until 4 years ago in one of her meditations that her heart pointed her to a new direction: her passion is in teaching and helping people achieve their goals through self-knowledge.After finishing an MBA in Communications and having experienced teaching Marketing for university students, she created a workshop for creativity based on meditation and felt that it should be complemented with psychology. After working more than 10 years in advertising agencies and living a comfortable life she stepped out of her comfort zone to follow her heart. Ester moved from Brazil, where she was born and raised, to San Diego to study and started her new life from scratch.Today, she has many gifts coming from the courage of trusting her intuition and not giving up despite all the challenges. In San Diego, Ester met the love of her life and got married, she received a professional diploma in Expressive Arts Therapy (Psychology); she created the Inner Self Workout – an innovative and unique method for self-empowerment – and started her new company Dharana Star. She has definitely made California her new home.
At the La Jolla Community Center, Ester has met wonderful people in her Meditation Classes and Inner Self Workout sessions. She is very grateful and blessed for being part of this community. Ester loves what she does and wants to share her passion with you. Attend her classes to create a culture of happiness!
Phillis Carey – The Casual Gourmet, Cooking Classes
Phillis Carey has been teaching cooking classes throughout Southern California for more than thirty years. Her classes cover a wide range of topics, from basic techniques to holiday feasts, from quick ways with chicken to vegetarian cooking, international and regional cuisines. Her focus is on easy-yet-elegant menus for entertaining with a gourmet accent and a minimum of fuss. Her students remark that she is easy to follow and her recipes are “home-cook” friendly. As a free-lance food writer, Phillis’ articles have appeared in COOK’S ILLUSTRATED and COOKING PLEASURES magazines. She has also written cover stories for the food section of the San Diego Union-Tribune and has self-published four cookbooks, including her currently available book, FAST AND FABULOUS CHICKEN BREASTS. A native of California, she resides in Carlsbad.
Linda H. Pequegnat – A Day In La Jolla History
Linda graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. with a major in Zoology. Then got interested in Marine Biology and moved to La Jolla in 1954 to study at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where I received my Master’s degree in Biological Oceanography.
My career as an author occurred when my book, “This Day in San Diego History” was published by Sunbelt Publications in 2009. This book was a “labor of love” that I started writing after being so happy to return to the San Diego area after all those years in Texas ! I wanted to learn more about the San Diego area — and about La Jolla — that I love so much! I joined the San Diego Historical Society and the La Jolla Historical Society, and I started reading many books about San Diego history. Somewhere along the way, I got the idea to write a book with a story for each day on the calendar about events that happened in San Diego’s past history — and “This Day in San Diego History” was born ! There are many stories about La Jolla’s past history in the book. I have enjoyed doing presentations and readings from my book to many local groups, including the La Jolla Community Center.
Pat Murray – Line Dancing
Patricia has over 35 years of experience teaching and training in the public school system and has since helped and trained Line Dance teachers in the San Diego County. In the summer of 2009, inspired by her love of teaching and dancing, Patricia called together a small group of women for a time of fun, fellowship and exercise. With the goal of taking their line dancing experiences and expertise beyond “The Electric Slide” to “Go Hard or Go Home,” the group began to meet regularly to learn a variety of old and new dances. When an observer casually remarked “you all look pretty good, maybe you should perform,” the Dancing Divas were born! Since then, the group has included men, children and couples and is now called ERRRVERYBODi!! The group has performed for many groups including UNCF, Relay for Life, Every Voice, Padres Heritage Day and many more
Amy Burfitt – Big Picture Planning for Seniors
Amy joined the San Diego office of LivHome in August of 2014 as their new Eldercare Consultant. Amy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and minor in Sociology, at Sonoma State University in 2000. Amy has been in the Senior Industry for over a decade and has now helped develop Big Picture Planning for Seniors, a program for designed to let you take control of your future and avoid costly mistakes. This 90 minute clinic takes place every second Tuesday of the month at 9:30am at the LJCC and will teach you: What legal documents you need to remain independent, How to age in place, What are your options for care, When moving makes sense, Who qualifies for a government benefit and more
Victoria Fuller – Ashtanga-Based Flow Yoga
Victoria began practicing yoga in 2002. She quickly gravitated toward Ashtanga Yoga, and she now studies with Tim Miller at the Ashtanga Yoga Center, and also with Trevor Monk at Infinite Yoga. The foundation of her teaching style comes from her sense that the benefits of her dedicated practice have exceeded anything she could have imagined when she first began, and she enjoys sharing her experience in classes that are challenging, but also fun and not intimidating. She is a Registered Yoga Teacher at the 200-hour level with Yoga Alliance.
Polina Sisman – Music Appreciation
Mrs. Sisman moved to San Diego in 1989 from the former Soviet Union. A native of Lviv, Ukraine, she earned an Honorable Bachelor Diploma in Music and Conducting from Kolessa Music Pedagogy College. While in college Mrs. Sisman was privileged to study piano under the guidance of Maria Kokotailo, now an esteemed Professor at the Wroclaw Music Academy in Poland. After her arrival in the United States Polina enhanced her pedagogic skills at San Diego State University under the tutelage of Professor Nancy McDonald.
Mrs. Sisman has worked as an accompanist for the California Ballet Company, Dance Department of Grossmont College, Campobello Dance Co. Mexico, and Ballet des Arts International, Montreal, Canada. Mrs. Sisman was chosen to accompany for Master Classes of the legendary dancers Maya Plisetskaya and Alonso King.
Currently Mrs. Sisman works as an accompanist and teaches Music Appreciation Classes for Dancers at San Diego Civic Youth Ballet. Mrs. Sisman has been a member of the Music Teachers Association of California since 1993, and has award winning students in Lviv, Ukraine and San Diego. She teaches students of all levels and backgrounds at her private studio. Mrs. Sisman brings knowledge and understanding of music thorough inspiration, patience, passion, and enthusiasm. Her students frequently join her at the symphony and often bring their musical talents to the rehabilitation centers and senior homes.
Jackie Warfield – Art Class: How to Start A Painting
A graduate of Visual Arts from UCSD. She has resided in La Jolla since 1996 with her two young daughters. A student of Sebastian Capella, her lifelong artistic passion and imagination began as a child in Oklahoma. Amid the cloud filled skies and vast plains grew her creative interests. Her work is based off of a limited palette and she enjoys painting with either oil or acrylic. In her free time, Jackie enjoys creating art demonstrations for local retirement communities.
Douglas R. Barker M.A. – Art History
Douglas is a professional art historian, educator and metaphysical researcher who lived for fourteen years in Europe and has taught over one hundred courses in art history at a number of colleges and universities, most recently as a full-time instructor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. He has been an enthusiastic researcher of the megaliths and has visited many of them in a number of different countries. His particular expertise is in relating the history of art to the evolution of consciousness in the Western world.
Chris Burns, M.A. – Music History
Chris has taught “history through music” for over 35 years, originally focusing on world history through the lens of classical music. At Valley Center Pauma Unified School District he served as a Music Demonstration Teacher, Mentor Teacher for Music, and Music Teacher for the Advanced Learner Program. He also taught classes at UCSD and SDSU Extension; classes included “Using Music to Enhance Learning,” ”Basic Musicianship,” and “Classical Music for the Educator.”
Chris continues his commitment to teaching history through music at the San Diego History Center, providing their education program with interactive music events on the history of California through music. In addition, he has performed music events in U.S. History and San Diego History for OASIS, Cabrillo National Monument and Mission Trails Park. His classes on classical music focus on the beauty and variety of the music and its historical context. Chris also performs regularly as one-half of ‘Many-Strings.’ This hammered dulcimer and guitar duo focuses on popular classical themes, Celtic, and American folk music. They perform regularly at Scripps Health, local art galleries, libraries, parks, and retail environments.
Jennifer Snyder – Functional Flow Yoga
Jennifer began practicing yoga in 1998 from teacher Gerhard Gessner and earned her E-RYT 200 in 2011 from Gerhard through the Yoga Alliance program. At the time, her philosophy was “the deeper the better”. In 2012, she injured her SI joint and her philosophy shifted to a stronger desire to understanding the body and honoring it’s limitations. Her emphasize is on pairing conscious breathing with an intelligent flow. Her flows are designed to improve movement on and off the mat. She is also certified in nutrition and meditation.
Lude Ricard – Balance Class
Lude was born and raised in an idyllic little beach town in the Caribbean islands. In the late 90’s she and her family immigrated to the United States. Since then she has embraced the best of American culture but has managed to retain most of her Caribbean beliefs and traditions.
Prior to moving to San Diego, Lude lived in Miami beach for 9 years where she attended Florida International University and received a graduate degree in Physical Therapy, a Bachelor’s in Health Administration along with a minor in Nutrition. At first she specialized in Orthopedic physical therapy, but always had an interest in geriatric Health, wellness and preventative medicine. In addition to Physiotherapy, Lude is also a corrective exercise specialist accredited from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and a 200hr registered Yoga Therapist.
Lude continues to stay current in the field of Physical Therapy. She continues to feed her passion for nutrition knowledge with ongoing study in Encinitas, CA.
Nansi Colley, Ph.D – Yoga for Healthy Living
Nansi Colley, Ph.D. is trained as a biologist, Yoga teacher, Yoga therapist and meditation teacher. She taught Yoga and meditation at the University of Wisconsin’s (UW) Integrative Medicine Center and Sports Medicine Center for 22 years, before returning to La Jolla. She is also a Professor Emeritus in the Medical School at UW and applies her scientific background to the ancient traditions in the science and philosophy of Yoga. Nansi is a certified Svaroopa® yoga teacher, yoga therapist and meditation teacher. Svaroopa® means “bliss of your own being” and Svaroopa® yoga uses classical yoga poses to create deep core openings and an inner experience of joy and well-being. She teaches Yoga for inner harmony and tranquility, health and wellness, as well as inner transformation. She communicates with great compassion and clarity and creates a positive and supportive environment in her classes that her participants truly value. She weaves the wisdom of Yoga into modern life, using Hatha Yoga poses, Yoga philosophy, breathing techniques and guided awareness to release spinal tensions and quiet your mind, promoting a peaceful, calm inner state.
Nansi received her Ph.D. from the University of CA, Santa Barbara, and did Postdoctoral Fellowships at UCLA and University of CA, San Diego (UCSD), before accepting a faculty position in the Medical School at UW-Madison. She now lives and teaches in San Diego.
Michelle Stallone-Eggers, Chopra Center Certified Instructor – Primordial Sound Meditation
After having worked in the corporate world for over twenty years, I had gradually become depleted on an energetic level. A series of life challenges – the death of my brother, being diagnosed with chronic health issues, a job loss – had slowly stripped away my sense of wholeness and wellbeing. I immersed myself in teachings that would enable me to uncover who I was and what I wanted out of life. I sensed that I was neglecting the root of who I was. This deep discovery led me to the Chopra Center, where I completed my certification in Primordial Sound Meditation, allowing me to nourish not only my mind and body, but most importantly, my soul.
Using the practice of meditation for co-creation– accessing a place of deep knowing to discover your soul’s desire – has been a guiding presence throughout my life. Through a regular practice of meditation I’ve regained both my health and awareness of what it feels like to experience ease and flow in my life. Where I previously sat with fear, I now embrace the unknown. As a result, I now know that it is my life’s purpose to share this tool with others.