A South Florida educator is one of four around the state selected for 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.

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 Alice@Wonderland at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. She also teaches adult education courses at the Universal Truth Center for Better Living in Miami Gardens.

A public program featuring the STARs will take place beginning at 6 p.m. Friday at the Hermitage, 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood.

“It’s that time of year when the Hermitage celebrates arts education by offering residencies to Florida Arts Educators,” said 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.”

Street said that during her residency she will “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 said, “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.