The Trollwood Mentorship Program is a unique educational initiative for FPS students in grades 9-12 that combines specialized, one-to-one performing arts mentorship with accredited academic instruction online. A collaborative effort between Trollwood Performing Arts School and the Virtual Academy, this program provides a comprehensive educational experience that allows students to excel both artistically and academically in a customized environment.

Both full-time and hybrid students enrolled in the Virtual Academy are eligible to take part in the Mentorship Program.

Full-time students complete course work in a flexible and self-paced schedule, allowing them the freedom to participate in mentorship opportunities at times that are convenient for them and their coaches. It is important to note that full-time students are also able to take part in activities at their home school.

Hybrid students can take courses both online and at their current school. They also benefit from being able to create their own schedule, allowing them to take part in mentorship opportunities during the school day while also attending classes and activities of their choice at their home school.

With guidance from the Student Mentor, students will determine their own goals and objectives within the program. After identifying specific areas of focus, each student will connect and collaborate with one or more expert coaches to help them refine their craft and explore new artistic avenues.

Students will benefit from individualized one-to-one and small group coaching, a wide range of workshops, masterclasses, performance opportunities and projects designed to hone their individual skills in various aspects of the performing arts. Our coaches are the backbone of the program.

A student’s journey will be distinct from others depending on focus of study, collaboration with mentor coaches, and schedule. The ultimate goal is to provide each student with personalized support through industry and educational professionals who are eager to help them achieve their individual artistic ambitions.

Kathie Brekke is a cornerstone of the music and education scene in our region having over 30 years of dedicated service. As the driving force behind the acclaimed 42nd Street Jazz Band, she’s led the ensemble through performances all around the region. Her contributions extend beyond the stage, as she hosts Fargo’s longest-running jazz night and has produced, directed and performed in captivating shows at Jasper’s Theater.

With a commitment to nurturing talent, Kathie has served as the director of vocal jazz ensembles at Concordia College and taught commercial keyboards and jazz piano at MSUM. Her influence reaches far beyond collegiate settings; she’s also lent her guidance as the director of choirs at Moorhead High School, shaping the musical journeys of countless students.

In her private studio, Kathie has had the pleasure of nurturing aspiring performers, many of whom have gone on to thrive on Broadway and in the professional music industry. Her infectious energy and deep-rooted connection to both the community and her students have earned her widespread admiration. Excited to continue empowering the next generation of artists, Kathie eagerly embraces her role as a coach in the Trollwood Mentorship Program, where she’s poised to inspire and guide budding talents as they pursue their passions.

Matt Gasper lives in Moorhead, MN and is currently a master instructor and owner of Gasper’s School of Dance (Fargo, ND), Artistic Director of the Fargo-Moorhead Ballet (a non-profit professional ballet company in Fargo, ND) and adjunct professor and head of the theatre dance program at North Dakota State University (NDSU). His contributions to the dance community and the art form throughout his thirty plus year career include roles as principal dancer, master instructor, choreographer, dance adjudicator, and artistic director.

Matt was a company member and performed with Cleveland San Jose Ballet Company in principal roles for productions of Nutcracker, Rodeo, Coppelia, Swan Lake, and Blue Suede Shoes.

After his time with the ballet company, Matt moved to New York City where he studied dance and pursued musical theatre, adding productions like Appleamondo’s Dreams, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, and Fiddler on the Roof to his vita, along with television and film productions Center Stage, The Drew Carey Show, Picture This, and Blue Suede Shoes. A few of the master instructors Matt has studied under include David Howard, Erick Hawkins, Luigi, Dennis Nahat, and Bob Richard.

An ABT-Certified Instructor, Matt has taught as a guest master instructor around the United States. His choreography work has been performed regionally and nationally at Regional Dance America (RDA), dance festivals, as well as dance competitions.

Hey there, my name is Dan Brekke and I’m a coach at the Trollwood Mentorship Program. I have spent the greater part of my life as a working traveling musician around the Midwest with several bands including the Johnny Holm Band and my own band. I spent several years in Nashville playing clubs on lower Broadway, working at the Grand Ole Opry, recording songs, and crafting my songwriting.

As a coach, I will be mentoring students in songwriting, applied guitar and piano theory, audio recording, and general music business development.

I look forward to helping kids grow in their musical journey!

Shawn Brekke

Shawn Brekke serves as the Student Mentor for the Trollwood Mentorship Program. He earned his Bachelor of Music Education degree at the University of Oregon (1991) and his Master of Education degree at Minnesota State University-Moorhead (1995), where he also served as a graduate assistant. He began his music education career in Minnesota – Lake Park (1993), Dilworth (1994), and Detroit Lakes (1998), later finding a home at Fargo Schools (2000). Shawn retired from classroom teaching in 2023 and joined the FPS Virtual Academy and Trollwood teams in 2024.

Shawn, his wife, Kathie Brekke, and their son, Daniel Brekke, all perform professionally in the F-M area and the surrounding region. Each summer, you will find Shawn and Kathie at Jasper’s Theater (2004), a music and variety show venue in Park Rapids, MN, where they serve as operational staff and performers.

The Mentorship Program hinges on the enrollment of the participating student in the Virtual Academy. The VA model is based on self-pacing, providing for flexibility in student schedules and course progress. Like college programs, online learning presents students with goals, objectives and course materials in advance, empowering students to determine their own priorities and timelines. Instructors are available face-to-face online during daily office hours.

Likewise, personal coaching and training in the Mentorship Program will be flexible, making it possible for students and coaching staff to meet and work intensively at Trollwood at convenient times.

Core studies are delivered through the Virtual Academy, allowing for a flexible and personalized learning experience. Course content is identical to that of their geographic high school and delivered via the Edgenuity platform. Below is a sampling of schools and districts that also utilize this platform for their online learning programs.

Edgenuity platform utilized by FPS:

A sampling of schools nationwide that use this platform:

Full-time VA students enroll in core academic subjects such as Math, English, Science, and Social Studies. Elective courses are available online through the North Dakota Center for Distance Education. To maintain progress toward graduation, students are enrolled in a minimum of three online courses every nine weeks, with at least six credits accrued each semester to stay on pace for graduation.

Hybrid VA students will typically enroll in core classes online and elective courses in-person. This model allows students to build flexibility into their schedule, and it also allows them to take courses that require in-person attendance and/or are of high interest.

VA students are required to meet the rigorous educational expectations and standards set for all high school students by Fargo Public Schools. Frequent check-ins, evaluations and assessments are conducted by multiple VA staff to monitor academic progress, provide motivation, and to build confidence and empowerment. Regular, in-person events are held at Trollwood as well to foster interpersonal relationships and connection within the online learning community.

The Mentorship Program takes accountability to the next level by stretching students, and encouraging them to extend themselves beyond their comfort zone and personal expectations.

The Bluestem Center, a state-of-the-art facility, is exclusively dedicated to the performing arts and is uniquely suited to opportunities such as the Mentorship Program. Learning spaces have been designed around the specifications inherent to theater, dance and music. Trollwood lives at the intersection of interpersonal relationships, collaboration, and creativity.

The TMP has much to offer students, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Develops artistic talent and academic skills side by side.
  • Nurtures both mind and talent.
  • Offers a head start on a career in the performing arts.
  • Offers personalized mentoring and real-world opportunities.
  • Provides a robust and balanced educational journey
  • Enables students to pursue their passion for the performing arts without compromising their academic goals
  • Offers the best of both worlds: the flexibility and resources of virtual academic instruction, coupled with the hands-on, immersive experience of specialized artistic training.

How do I sign up?

To secure your spot, please complete this commitment form

Who do I contact with questions?

Trollwood Performing Arts School

Phone: (218) 477-6500

Instructional Components

Academic Instruction

  • Platform: All academic courses are delivered through Fargo Public Schools Virtual Academy, allowing for a flexible and personalized learning experience.
  • Courses: Students will enroll in core academic subjects like Math, English, Science, and Social Studies, as well as elective courses that align with their interests.
  • Assessment: Regular evaluations and assessments will be conducted to monitor academic progress, ensuring that students meet the educational standards set by Fargo Public Schools.

Artistic Training

  • Venue: Specialized artistic training will be held at the Bluestem Center for the Arts, a state-of-the-art facility.
  • Curriculum: Students will benefit from a wide range of workshops, masterclasses, performance opportunities and projects designed to hone their skills in various aspects of the performing arts.
  • Mentorship: Each student will receive personalized coaching and mentorship to help them refine their craft and explore new artistic avenues.

This unique initiative, a collaboration between Trollwood Performing Arts School and Fargo Public Schools Virtual Academy, offers an exceptional blend of accredited academics and customized performing arts training and mentorship. To secure your spot, please complete this commitment form. This program provides a harmonious balance between virtual academic flexibility and customized artistic training, giving you the best of both worlds. Don’t miss this opportunity to unlock your full potential in academics and the performing arts. Join us on this transformative journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

To support a students’ social, artistic and academic development, especially those who may flourish in a non-traditional environment.

The Trollwood Mentorship Program welcomes students from grades 9-12 for the 2024-2025 academic year. For those residing in North Dakota but outside the Fargo Public School (FPS) district, open enrollment is an option. Please note that the deadline for open enrollment is February 29.

Non-resident students, or those living outside the state of North Dakota, are also eligible to attend but are subject to out-of-state tuition fees. The tuition is set at $103.25 per day, which, over the course of the 175-day academic year, totals $18,068.75. In accordance with the North Dakota Century Code, tuition payments can be made in two installments: the first half is due at the start of the academic year, and the second half at the beginning of the second semester.

Yes, students at the Trollwood Mentorship Program are actively encouraged to engage in extracurricular activities at their home schools. This includes participation in various electives such as drama classes, choirs, and orchestras. We believe that involvement in these programs enriches the educational experience and allows students to maintain a well-rounded school life while benefiting from the specialized opportunities at Trollwood.

Attendance at the Trollwood Mentorship Program is free of charge for students residing within the Fargo Public School district or the state of North Dakota. For those outside of these areas, please refer to our enrollment information for details on tuition costs.

The TMP exists as an extension and enrichment experience only and it does not offer high school credit. Likewise, it does not replace current course offerings and opportunities at FPS high schools. Furthermore, students involved in the program are encouraged to enroll in performing arts courses and/or take part in activities at their geographical high school. The sole purpose of the program is to enhance full-time/hybrid VA students’ personal training and experiences in the performing arts.

Yes, either full-time or hybrid with an FPS high school.

High school credit is granted for academic courses taken through the Virtual Academy or their geographic high school. However, the Trollwood Mentorship Program is designed for enrichment only and students do not accrue credits toward graduation.

Flexibility is a hallmark of this program, so no two students may have the same daily/weekly schedule. That said, full-time VA students will plan their focused time in academics around their opportunities at Trollwood. Hybrid students will plan their focused time in academics around their Trollwood schedule and their geographic high school schedule of classes and activities. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to work independently during the school day on academics or performing arts at Trollwood if they so choose.