The Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce the four recipients of the 2015 State Teacher Artist Residencies (STARs)

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July 27, 2015


Hermitage Announces STARs 2015

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce the four recipients of the 2015 State Teacher Artist Residencies (STARs). These are awarded annually in partnership with the Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE), a statewide organization that chooses the winning teachers. Residency applications are open to all Florida arts teachers in any arts discipline. Those selected receive a four-week summer residency at the Hermitage, where they live and work as artists, without any expectation, schedule or demands. This year’s recipients include a poet, one visual artist, a playwright and a composer. They are Joanna Fox, Sarasota County; Mandy Mathieu, Citrus County; John Stiles, Martin County; and Nerissa Street, Broward County. A public program featuring the STARs will take place beginning at 6:00 pm on Friday, August 7th at the Hermitage, 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood. Bring your beach chairs and refreshments. In case of weather concerns, call 475-2098 after 3:00 pm.

“It’s that time of year when the Hermitage celebrates arts education by offering residencies to Florida Arts Educators,” explained Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director. “This year’s winners include four artists, all different, representing four disciplines. We couldn’t be more pleased with FAAE’s selections.”

Joanna Fox teaches creative writing as the Literary Arts teacher at Booker Middle Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School in Sarasota. Her classroom, “The Dragonfly Café” and the success of her students has been the subject of a local PBS TV station that garnered three Emmy awards. Fox’s love of teaching and poetry has been recognized throughout the community where her students will pop up in restaurants, at festivals and for family beach readings, giving them the gift of words, as well as the gift of confidence. They have been recognized at the Library of Congress and Carnegie Hall, as well as won local, regional, national and international awards. Fox is the current International River of Words Teacher of the Year and has been published in Postcards and Pearls, Write from the Heart and The Florida English Journal.

Mandy Mathieu describes herself as a singer/songwriter, actor, director, entertainer and teacher. She is currently teaching IB Theater, Acting, Musical Theater and Humanities at Lecanto High School in Citrus County. Her students have won many superior ratings at district and state levels, as well as scholarships to prestigious performing arts universities. While at the Hermitage, she will use her residency to concentrate on music composition.

John Stiles is a visual artist who teaches high school and college level courses at Clark Advanced Learning Center in Stuart, FL and graphic design at Indian River State College. Although his undergraduate degree is in Communicative Arts, his first post-college job was in the screen-printing industry, where he worked for 14 years. In addition to teaching, John is active in the Martin County arts community.

Nerissa Street teaches drama at Bethune Elementary School of the Arts in Hollywood, FL. This past year, she directed 110 third, fourth and fifth grade students in [email protected] at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. “During my residency,” Street writes. “I’ll be researching and writing about how the principles of storytelling and theater can transform environments and with the environment, the people in them. Environment influences learning, and I want to give even my most impoverished students the power to change theirs.”

Hermitage Program Director Patricia Caswell adds, “Peer into the minds of original poetic thinkers, who, because they are teachers, naturally and effortlessly clarify the mystery of art. When you come to the STARs showcase you will have a smile on your face, a song in your throat, and light bulbs going off in your head.  You can record your own song on a CD, see and/or buy original art, and enjoy readings on the beach.  You will be entertained, engaged and inspired to sing, think, change, and remember it.”  

The Hermitage is a not-for-profit artist retreat located at 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood, FL. It invites accomplished painters, sculptors, writers, playwrights, poets, composers and other artists from all over the world for residencies on its beachfront historic campus. Artists are asked to contribute two services to the community during their stay and as a result, Hermitage artists touch thousands of Gulf Coast community residents with unique and inspiring programs each year. All Hermitage community programs are partially sponsored by the Women’s Exchange and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. In addition, the Hermitage awards and administers the prestigious Greenfield Prize, an annual $30,000 commission for a new work of art, rotating among three disciplines: visual art, music and drama. The Hermitage also partners with the Aspen Music Festival and School to award the annual Hermitage Prize to a composition student during the Festival. For more information about The Hermitage Artist Retreat, call 941-475-2098 or visit the website at

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