Before opening School of Rock Plymouth, owner Jora Bart worked in the sports and entertainment industry for 20 years, lived and worked in Hong Kong for a brief stint of time and managed a band for fun in her early 20s. She produced publicity campaigns for a multitude of national and international events and served as the publicist for a world-class arena, a convention center and a historic auditorium that hosted the likes of Elvis, Prince and Dylan. One of her favorite hobbies is meeting new people. A big parenting goal for her is that her three kiddos grow up to be kind…and that they love music! Opening a School of Rock combined her passions for music, people and making a difference.
Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Singing Teacher, Drum Teacher
Writer, performer, banjoist and guitarist Tony Petersen began playing guitar at age 15 and has been performing across the country since high school. Tony is currently part of the national touring act Social Animals, has a solo project under the name Ditchbird and is one half of the folk/Americana duo Jill & Tony. He also records commercial music, some of which has been used in ads by ABC News and a well-known Russian beverage company. After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2011, Tony founded Boss Booking and Management and began booking musical acts into venues throughout the U.S.
Singing Teacher, Keyboard Teacher
Before earning a degree in Audio Production and Engineering from the Institute of Production & Recording in Minneapolis, vocal and keyboard instructor Trenton Skalicky attended McNally Smith College of Music and studied vocal performance. Since then, Trenton has been recording and performing with the Twin Cities blues rock band Jackie Kean. Trenton is always constantly looking to expand his musical experiences, and is excited to bring his passion to students at School of Rock Plymouth!
Yossi Aharoni, born in Ashkelon, Israel, and currently living in Crystal, started playing drums at 17. He was named Music Student of the Year at Winona State University where he received a BA in Music with a Jazz Minor / Drum-set emphasis. Yossi has classical and Jazz music training, and currently performs as part of a Minneapolis progressive/djent band. Some of Yossi's favorite bands include Umphrey’s McGee, the String Cheese Incident, Tesseract, the Mars Volta, Tool, Animals as Leaders, Monuments, Protest the Hero and August Burns Red, and his biggest influences in the drum world are Kris Meyers, Jay Postones, Danny Carey and Matt Garstka. Outside of music, Yossi's interests include physics, cosmology, astronomy, biotechnology, economics, political theory, history, true-crime and performing arts. He also has two dogs, a cat, a turtle and a red-tail boa.
A music education major from Gustavus Adolphus College, Emily Hitchings has a passion for teaching and performing. Emily is a multi-instrumentalist who learned her first instrument at 12 years old and discovered her love of music from an early age. At Gustavus, Emily was the treasurer for the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, a group that toured internationally and regionally as well as recorded two albums. Emily has extensive experience teaching music both in the classroom as well as private lesson settings. She is currently finishing student teaching and working towards her K-12 Instrumental Music Education license. Emily loves working with kids of all ages and believes in the importance of music education for everyone.
Kerestel Leonard grew up in a very artistic and musical family. He watched his parents play music and design a plethora of projects as they instilled in him the importance of what art can do for the world. He started playing drums around age 8 and was performing by age 11. He added a few other instruments along the way as his love and passion for music grew. He values the importance of passing along this joy and perspective to the next generation. He believes that music has the power to change our lives - and the lives of everyone around us. Outside of work, he loves to explore other hobbies such as reading, hitting the gym or researching any new subject that catches his attention. As the oldest of eight children, Kerestel is a big family person and likes to spend time with those that are closest and most important to him. He is excited to learn and grow from both the students and staff at School of Rock!
A recent University of South Florida grad with a degree in criminology, Carly Sachs grew up with a passion for music. She has always loved the stage and performed in musicals, concerts and acapella groups from elementary school through college. Carly recently moved to Minnesota to be closer to family, and is excited to start her adventure with School of Rock.
Studio Coordinator, Bass Guitar Teacher
Gabs Semansky is an experienced musician, having started piano lessons at the age of six and quickly falling in love with playing and performing. Throughout childhood and into adulthood, Gabs’ excitement for music has led to countless hours in private instruction for keys, bass guitar, guitar and almost every brass instrument. This experience has allowed him to take the stage with a variety of bands ranging from punk to folk to blues outfits. As his skillset grew, so did the impetus to share that knowledge with the world. Gabs has volunteered for several music camps throughout the years and has served as both an instrument instructor and as the Music Curriculum Coordinator for the nonprofit Rock the Rez! since 2020.
Guitar Teacher, Assistant Rehearsal Director
Guitarist, songwriter and producer, Logan Stahlecker, currently tours as the lead guitarist for the band Stormbreaker and has performed at iconic venues including Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood and shared the stage with bands such as Korn, Chevelle, Danzig and more. A graduate from the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts, Logan studied jazz guitar and performed in the school’s “Rock of Ages” and The Who’s “Tommy” productions. As a former student at the St. Paul School of Rock, he earned the James Taylor Award and Gold Award (x2) in recognition of his tireless work ethic, attitude, respectfulness and outstanding musicianship.
Drum Teacher, Guitar Teacher, Bass Guitar Teacher, Singing Teacher
Tanner Bergersen, who currently plays tenors with the Minnesota Vikings Drumline, SKOL LINE, joined his school band at a young age and has enjoyed making music ever since. He toured the Midwest with the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps and spent a year performing on the West Coast with the world-class Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps.
In his younger years, Tanner taught himself how to play guitar after being inspired by the Guitar Hero video game and constantly studied music performance, strategies on practicing, and learned a multitude of other instruments. He received a degree in Music Therapy from the University of Minnesota, and hopes to spread the knowledge he's gained during his musical endeavors to his students...and to never stop learning himself.
Kaitlin Cook began making music at the age of 4 when an old piano destined for the dumpster found a home with her family. She loves getting to know music in its many forms and has greatly enjoyed her time as a classical performer, theater instrumentalist, and bandmate. Kaitlin has her bachelor of music in piano performance from Augsburg University and is always excited to help facilitate meaningful learning experiences with others.
Alex Maiers is an active multi-instrumentalist, composer and performing/recording artist throughout the greater Midwest. Graduating Cum Laude with a B.A. in Guitar Performance from the University of St. Thomas in 2011, his musical journey has given him the opportunity to perform on numerous stages and record with a plethora of artists ranging from folk and country music, to progressive metal, to classical, to musical theatre. Alex has nearly 20 years of teaching experience working with students ranging in age from 7 to 83 - from beginners to industry professionals looking to improve their craft. After a decade serving as a composer/arranger for film and multimedia content, Alex released his first solo album in 2019. Alex's philosophy is that every musical journey begins with a single step: the drive to pick up the instrument/microphone with the willingness to progress.
"I am excited to be joining Jora's team! Being able to stoke the flames of inspiration in others is one of the greatest rewards of mentorship. I was very fortunate to have incredible teachers along the way, and I look forward to being a mentor to the wonderful students of Plymouth's School of Rock!"
Murphy Smith was born and raised in Kansas City, and started playing both piano and bass at the ripe age of 10; his father (a hobbyist musician) showed him how to play anything from rock to soul. Since then, Murphy has graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Jazz Studies-Double Bass and made a living as a full time musician in New Orleans, Kansas City, and as of July 2021, Minneapolis. Murphy has had the privilege of playing with numerous artists including Marcus Lewis (Janelle Monae), Warren Batiste (George Benson), Ryan Hanseler (Branford Marsalis), and many others. In addition to electric and upright bass, Murphy teaches piano, which he formally studied in high school and college. Murphy is enjoying the Twin Cities-living with his girlfriend, Maggie, and their two cats, Rose and Dandelion.
Tommy Bare is a self-proclaimed lover of music, and enjoys being lighthearted to try and help people feel a little bit better about life. He taught himself how to play guitar and piano, and his favorite genres of music include Folk, Soul, Classic Rock and Indie. Tommy said, "When I was around 12-years-old, I found an album with four weird hippie dudes crossing the road. After listening to it, my mind was blown by the sounds that these guys had made. I told myself right then and there that one day I was going to make great music just like them." He hopes that by working at School of Rock, he can help students feel like the rockstars that inspire them.
Guitar Teacher, Drums Teacher
Tom Berg has been playing music nearly all his life, and loves nothing more than performing and practicing. To Tom, music is more than just a hobby...it's his whole world. He began playing guitar at age 9, and shortly after joined School of Rock as a student! This is when his abilities as a musician truly took off, and his passion for performing grew. Throughout the years, he's learned to play several instruments through jazz ensembles and taken countless courses in music. One of his biggest life lessons is that there is always more to learn! No matter the instrument, genre, technique - he recognizes that everyone approaches this kind of creativity in a unique and valuable way. He's thrilled to be able to share what he's learned with the next generation of musicians, and is happy beyond belief to keep doing what he loves.
Keyboard + Piano Teacher
Rissy Simon started playing piano at 12 years old and was instantly hooked. In high school, she was part of the Bella Voce Choir and taught piano as a volunteer instructor at Elm Creek Elementary in Maple Grove. Rissy is enrolled at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI, and is pursuing a Nursing Degree and also Minoring in Music.
Spencer Knefelkamp is a drummer, producer, and songwriter working with multiple acts currently in the Twin Cities area. Spencer attended Hudson High School and played in the varsity Jazz band where he received the Louis Armstrong award for his drum performance. He has been playing drums since he was 3 years old and enjoys a variety of music ranging from rock to soundtracks to pop. Spencer's drumming has led to opportunities opening for acts such as 3 Doors Down, Dokken, 38 Special, and many more.
Cassidy Stahlecker started her music journey after watching her brother perform on tour with School of Rock. Soon after, she also enrolled at School of Rock and studied bass and vocals...and from there, it's history! Cassidy took up keyboard and guitar, and currently is the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist in the Minneapolis-based, blues rock band, The Whiskey Dogs. By day, she is a vet assistant working her way to finish her undergrad degree and enroll in vet school to become a veterinarian. Music has been a passion for her whole life and she looks forward to sharing it with the next generation.
Steve Peterson is a guitarist and bassist by passion but has experience playing everything you need in a rock band. Somewhat self-taught to begin with (and with the help of musically inclined parents) Steve got his first guitar at 7 years old. By middle school, he was playing in bands of all genres ranging from blues to folk to heavy metal. He ended up studying classical and jazz guitar at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Most recently, Steve has been an accompanist to local vocalists around the Twin Cities.