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Instructor Spotlight Articles

Each issue of our quarterly class catalog, EnjoyLearning.com, features spotlight articles on selected instructors that teach classes in our adult and youth programs. Here's a sampling of spotlight articles from our most recent catalogs.

Dan Woodruff and Matt Parrott

Their obsession is pizza. Learn how to use the best ingredients and techniques to create a wood fired masterpiece!

Their love affair with everything pizza started innocently enough cooking pizzas and breads in their home ovens. But after a small kitchen fire (and subsequent suspension of cooking privileges!), the guys constructed a backyard wood-fired pizza oven and that became very popular for parties with family and friends! Now pushing their craft even further, they started Standard Pizza Co., complete with an impressive mobile pizza oven that can bring their tasty pizza concoctions to your next gathering, celebration, or festival! Visit their site, standardpizzaco.com, to learn more.

Dan and Matt have invested hundreds of hours in trial and error experience to create the best pizzas. The success of their company is about one thing—quality—and that starts with their dough. They have labored endlessly with every type of flour, yeast, water and salt combination, as well as different fermentation, holding, and proofing processes until they arrived at their expertly crafted pizzas that are truly irresistible!

Dan and Matt will teach The Art of Cooking in a Wood Fired Oven this spring. Students will learn all about dough and the chemistry behind it. They will learn basic kneading skills, how to make a simple and delicious sauce, what to think about when making topping selections for your pizza, and the difference between cooking in your home oven and a wood fired oven. After completing the class, you will have the confidence to craft the best pizza you’ve ever made and share your pizza making knowledge with friends.

Mario Deruda

Chef Mario Deruda Teaches Home Cooks How to Make Hearty Gourmet Specialities

Mario Deruda, store chef at Forest Hills Foods, is a European-trained Italian chef from the island of Sardinia. Mario was trained in hotel, restaurant, and institutional management at the culinary school in Sassari, Italy. He then trained at Peck Gastronomique in Milan where he learned, first hand, the arts of baking, charcuterie, and garde manger from the old world masters. After honing his skills in some of Milan’s and New York City’s finest restaurants, Mario became personal chef to some of New York’s most discerning palates, including Leona Helmsley. Once the time came to find a quieter home than New York, he decided to move his family to Michigan to bring fine Italian cuisine to the Grand Rapids area. He was instrumental in the opening of Tre Cugini Ristorante and in Noto’s cantina concept. Most recently, he was the chef at the Fifth Season Italian Restaurant in Douglas, Michigan.


Mario's philosophy of cuisine has always been “simple but perfect.” Using the finest, freshest ingredients and best cooking practices always yields the best results without artifice or pretense.

Yili Bonarski and Yiling Cumings

China Lingua’s Yili Bonarski and Yiling Cumings Use Their Vast Training and Experience to Teach Chinese Language and Culture

Yili Bonarski was born and raised in Guangzhou, China. Upon graduating from Guangzhou Foreign Language Institute with a teaching degree focused on teaching English as a foreign language, Yili taught at one of the flagship elementary schools in Guangzhou for 6 years, from 1980 to 1986. In 1986, Yili came to the U.S. to study at Northern Michigan University, where she met her husband, Ted. Yili has been teaching Chinese at Grand Rapids Chinese Language School since 1995, where she is currently serving as provost. She also taught Chinese at Grand Valley State University as an adjunct instructor from 1997 to 1999 and also had an opportunity to teach Chinese at City High/Middle School during the 2010-11 school year.

Yiling Cumings was born and raised in Shanghai, China. She graduated in 2007 from China Women’s University in Beijing with a teaching degree in early childhood education and a minor in teaching English as a second language. Later in 2007, Yiling came to the U.S. to work as a governess for a family in Detroit for three years, teaching Chinese to two children (who are now fluent in Chinese). Yiling is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Public Administration at the University of Michigan, Dearborn while she teaches in the Chinese Immersion (language, math, and science) program at Forest Hills Public Schools as an assistant teacher. She also teaches Chinese at Grand Rapids Chinese Language School. Yiling married her husband Daniel in 2010.

Yili and her business partner, Yiling, launched Lingua China, LLC this year and partnered with FHPS to offer after-school Chinese programs. Their class, Mandarin Chinese, is listed above.

Megan Marthens

New Instructor Megan Marthens Inspires All Students to Be Enthusiastic About Dance and Performing

Megan is a graduate of Forest Hills Central High School and Grand Valley State University. She has studied dance for 20 years all over the United States including Chicago and New York. As a professional tap dancer, she had the opportunity to dance in an Off-Broadway show in New York City and visit studios as a guest choreographer. She was the former coach of the Forest Hills Central Visual Unit, danced for the Grand Rapids Force and Holland Blast semi-professional basketball teams, and continues to teach at various studios in the area.

Megan has expertise in all styles of dance and after spending the last four years working as a caregiver for children and adults with disabilities, she hopes to combine these two passions into one by opening a studio focusing on those with behavioral and physical disabilities.

Megan loves life and strives to be a role model and positive influence to all who cross her path. She states, “No matter what happens in your life, you’ll always have the ability to dance because dancing is not about what one may see on the outside but rather what one feels on the inside. Dancing is in your heart.”

Chef Mario Deruda

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