Hermitage 2024 STARs Announced

The Hermitage Artist Retreat (Sarasota County, Florida) announced today that five Florida public school arts teachers will spend part of their summer on Manasota Key while working on their own artistic endeavors. They are the recipients of the 2024 State Teachers Artist Residency program (STARs) – now in its fourteenth year – presented by the Hermitage Artist Retreat in partnership with the Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE). This year’s recipients were selected from dozens of impressive applicants, and the five teachers selected from across the State of Florida include three visual arts educators working in various mediums, a musician who leads the steel band at their high school, and a theater teacher recognized for his playwriting talents. The five receive a residency at the nationally renowned Hermitage Artist Retreat, where they can focus on their own work as creative artists. These five teaching artists will present a family-friendly showcase of their work on Friday, July 12 starting at 2pm. This special event will be held throughout the Hermitage’s beachfront campus on Manasota Key; entrance at 6660 Manasota Key Road, Englewood, FL 34223. 

The program is presented in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota and Desoto Counties and the Englewood YMCA. In addition to the students and families attending from the YMCA, this Hermitage community program will be free and open to the public with a $5/person registration fee. Due to capacity limitations, registration is required at HermitageArtistRetreat.org.

“These exceptional educators are also talented artists and creative minds in their own right,” says Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage. “During the academic year, their attention is devoted to their students, and this has been a particularly challenging few years for educators throughout the State of Florida. The STARs program offers five distinguished teachers the opportunity to experience what leading artists from around the world have come to the Hermitage for – to focus on their craft and their creative process. Over the years, the STARs have created some stunning works of art, music, theater, dance, and literature during their time at the Hermitage. Many Hermitage teaching artist alumni have shared that this program enables them to return to their students with a new fire and passion for arts education.” 

The five recipients of this honor, selected among dozens of impressive applicants, include: Greg Burdick, a theater arts educator, director, and playwright in Central Florida (Polk County); Dealey Dansby, a sculpture and ceramics visual artist currently teaching elementary and middle school art at Carrollwood K8 in Tampa (Hillsborough County); Shaun Fergus, a passionate art instructor at Fort White Middle School (Columbia County); Dr. Kayleen Justus, Director of Steel Bands at Leon High School in the Tallahassee area (Leon County); and Vanessa Watkins, a distinguished glass artist with a focus on restoration art at Markham Woods Middle School (Seminole County). Full bios are included below.

Since the start of the Hermitage STARs program in 2011, 67 teachers have represented over 30Florida counties. These prestigious residencies culminate with a free community program, this year hosted in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota and Desoto Counties and the Englewood YMCA

The STARs program is one of the only Hermitage residency programs open to application; arts educators from schools throughout the State of Florida are eligible, including music, theater, visual art, dance, and creative writing teachers. For more information about the Hermitage STARs program and how to apply, Florida arts educators are encouraged to visit FAAE.org/STAR.