About Us

About Our School

What is a folk school?

The folk school tradition traces its origins to Scandinavian countries, with NFS Grundtvig of Denmark coining the term ‘schools for life’ as part of his philosophy of education, and of his vision for strengthening and empowering communities.

Folk schools can be found around the world. In the USA, the number and popularity of folk schools is growing. Folk schools offer classes in traditional arts and crafts, with a goal of preserving potentially lost arts and skills.  Many new folk schools emphasize subjects such as music, theatre, art, tradition, and craft. Folk schools offer learning that connects heart, hands, and mind; learning that is inspiring for both students and teachers; valuing of the oral tradition, and seeing education as a lifelong endeavor.

Folk schools connect and build a myriad of community resources, and they capitalize on networking and collaboration at its finest. Folk schools can provide much needed enrichment and balance to public schools during an era of enormous pressure for academic and intellectual achievement.

Marine Mills Folk School is proud to carry on the folk school tradition, focussing on an unplugged, deliberate approach, with an emphasis on intergenerational learning that is fun, collaborative and restorative.

Hope to see you soon!

Our mission is to support our community and strengthen connections by inviting all people to discover the joy of creating together through traditional arts and crafts.

Our Vision:

People will honor and appreciate fellow artists and craftspeople of similar and differing cultural heritage as well as those from other times, experience the joy of creating and the restorative power of our natural environment.

Our Values:

  • We believe the sharing of culture and time-honored traditional arts & crafts will make the world a better place

  • We believe in the restorative value of our natural environment and our responsibility to protect it.

  • We believe everyone has the ability to create.

  • We believe in accessibility and inclusivity; all are welcome.

Our Board

Emily Anderson -is owner of HWY North, a gift store and gallery in the heart of St. Paul representing the works of over sixty local Twin Cities and Minnesota artists since 2014. A second location was launched in Marine on St. Croix in the summer of 2018. Emily also founded the Hamline Midway Craft Club, an arts-based community group with an online membership of 450. Her degree is in Arts Education and Museum Studies from California State University, Monterey Bay.

Robin Brooksbank,  Founder and Board Chair – Robin owned a manufacturing company with her business partner for over thirty years until it was sold in 2016, fulfilling a variety of roles including Treasurer and Sales & Marketing VP. She was a City Council Member in Marine on St. Croix for ten years, a member of the Planning Commission, and has served on several City ad hoc committees. Robin has served on the boards of two educational nonprofits, and helped found the Marine Library Association, where she served as Board Chair and Fundraising Chair. She holds a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas.

Nanc MacLeslie, Secretary -was a founding Board member of the Bluestone Giving Foundation and a founding board member of the Marine Community Library. Her professional skills are in Marketing & Communications and is currently employed in the health care industry.  She is an involved community volunteer, and a singer and musician who often performs for local nonprofit benefits.

Kathy Marker – recently retired from the Twin Cities YMCA organization as Day Camp Project Manager and Director of Volunteers.  Her professional skills include strategic planning and program development, site development, and risk management.  She is an active council member at Christ Lutheran Church in Marine on St. Croix, serving on the facility committee and the capital campaign committee.  She is also an active community volunteer and currently serves on the Eastside Neighborhood Services Board of Management.

Jane Norbin –is retired from Ramsey County where she worked for over 20 years.  Her positions there included the Director of Public Health Nursing, Director of Health Policy; Homeland Security Director, and Public Health Director.  In these capacities she was often responsible for oversight of community non- profit agencies that received County grants, gaining expertise in non-profit governance and management. Jane also founded and managed two successful community non-profit organizations in Stillwater and Forest Lake Minnesota. Jane has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s degree from the University of Minnesota.

Matthew Smith, Treasurer -Matt is the chief executive of Dakota County, prior to that he was Department of Revenue Commissioner, and prior to that, Director of Finance for the City of St. Paul. He has been a Christ Lutheran Church council member and Finance Chair, and is a long time Marine on St. Croix resident and community volunteer. He holds a Master‘s Degree in Agriculture and Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota.

Andy Wallace -has been a custom residential builder and owner of his own company for over twenty years, he is a master carpenter specializing in finish woodworking. Early in his career he was involved with outdoor education, working as a wilderness canoe guide and winter camping instructor. He is a long time volunteer for YMCA Camp Widgiwagan as well as for a several youth athletic organizations (ski and mountain bike teams) and for his local church.

Cathy Wegener -has teaching woven into her life. She has her master’s degree in elementary education, which she put to good use throughout her teaching career in Marine on St. Croix. She served on several curriculum committees and received a best teacher award from the Stillwater Gazette. She spearheaded the DNR certified school forest at Marine, recruiting volunteers and children alike to enjoy their natural setting while making a difference in the way education was done at Marine Elementary School.

Marine Mill, MN Historical Society
Photo Credit: MN Historical Society

History of Marine Mills

Founded in 1839, Marine Mills was the site of the first commercial sawmill in what would become the state of Minnesota.  As lumbering became less of a dominant economic force, Twin Cities residents became increasingly interested in the area for its natural beauty and access to the St. Croix River.  In an effort to emphasize the area’s  pastoral beauty, the city name was changed to ‘Marine on St. Croix’ in 1912, as ‘Marine Mills’ was felt to be too industrial.