Local teaching artists, trained through the Van Wezel Education Department, team with teachers to develop and co-teach, through arts integration. As defined by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts:
ARTS INTEGRATION is an
APPROACH to TEACHING
in which students
construct and demonstrate
Students engage in a
an art form
and another subject area
Nan Colton is a professional playwright, director, storyteller, actress and Teaching Artist having, for the past twenty five years, performed and lectured professionally on stages throughout South Africa, Great Britain and the United States. She offers quality performing arts workshops that correlate with Florida’s curriculum initiatives. Effective and creative educational tools are demonstrated in literacy, language arts, history, social studies, critical thinking creativity, character building, emotion, team work, respect, and self discipline. For the past eight years her work has included school residencies and guest presentations. Sponsors of her work in Florida include Pinellas County Arts Council, The Mahaffey Theater Foundation, The Museum of Fine Arts, City of St. Petersburg, Florida Humanities Council, and the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Alyson Dolan loves to move. As a dancer, teacher, and choreographer originally from Melbourne, FL, she received her BFA in Dance from Florida State University in 2008. She has performed during various events including APAP and Dance Harlem as a member of Millicent Johnnie & Company. She has also studied abroad at the Henry Jurrien's Foundation in Amsterdam as well as interned for Monica Bill Barnes & Company in New York City. Currently she is teaching dance at Booker High School, St. Petersburg College, and performs with and is the Rehearsal Director for Fuzión Dance Artists in Sarasota. Alyson is very excited to be working with the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center as a Teaching Artist.
FAITH BRADBURN KELLER
Faith Bradburn Keller is an award-winning fine artist, teaching artist, exhibit & graphic designer, and graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design. She has successfully worked as an artist for over 25 years and enjoys working with students and people of all ages’.
“I particularly enjoy teaching students to explore beyond what they know or understand about art and their core classes and to begin to discover within themselves that they can tackle new areas and accomplish anything in life that matters to them. It’s about creatively allowing the students to dig deeper within them and to begin the process that they can become anything in life that they want to be. Giving them the confidence to try new things. Art oftentimes is the springboard to self-discovery. Life is too short not to do what you enjoy and were created to do,” she says.
In addition to teaching, Faith worked at Mote Marine Laboratory as a graphic and exhibit designer, and illustrator. As a freelance artist painting private commissions, an illustrator and muralist for non-profits, corporations and private sectors, and also as a freelance exhibit and graphic designer. Faith designed the State of Florida’s specialty license plate, “Protect Our Reefs,” which brings awareness and raises funds for Coral Reef Research. She also designed a permanent exhibit located at Quantico Marine Base, VA honoring Vietnam Vets who served as the first amphibious battalion in US military history.
Faith loves to paint realism. With her love of natural settings, she finds it intriguing to explore and discover texture, form and light. The way light and color reveals itself in nature is exciting which influences new possibilities as depth and realism is revealed in each of Faith’s paintings. Which in turn, expresses beauty and true identity in her art that allows the viewer to participate as well.
Judy Levine is a Teaching Artist in Sarasota middle and high schools and leads sequential professional development workshops for area artists entering the Van Wezel’s training program. She assists them with developing lesson plans which integrate their art form into the classroom curriculum, instructs on the connections to the Standards, and assessment and evaluations to meet objectives. She is coordinator of Teacher Connection at Liberty Science Center, Jersey City, NJ., the teacher professional development program that provides educators with resources to teach science more effectively. In addition, Judy has traveled throughout the world photographing and giving seminars for Elderhostel. She worked with orangutans in Borneo at Camp Leakey tracking their nightly nests and collecting hair samples for DNA documentation. She teaches at the University of South Florida and gives art seminars through her business, Phoenix Art Workshops.
Judith Pirkey brings a wealth of experience to her art. She is both a serious as well as an impassioned potter and teacher who loves to have fun while creating her works. She has studied with many master potters throughout the world and has been especially privileged to study with the late M.C. Richards (“Centering”) as well as continuing her studies with Ki Woon Huh, a Master Korean Potter. She has exhibited in many art galleries including Venice Art Center, Sarasota Art Center, The Fine Art Society and various galleries throughout the country. She belongs to the Professional Womens Association, as well as being a member of the Sarasota Arts Center, The Venice Art Center and the Sarasota Fine Arts Society.
Judith has taught art and pottery for the past fifteen years. Her students ranged in ages from 4 years to 80 years. Previous to her career in art she created and built oceanariums throughout the world. As a result of her unique experiences, she lectured throughout the world on the importance of the oceans and their environs.
Judy has traveled extensively throughout the Far East and her love of both the culture and the art are inherent in her designs, her pottery, and her teaching techniques.
Judy’s creations today – be it pots, sculptures, or assemblages of diverse objects – are an amalgam of the many places where she has either resided or visited. Judy’s best works consist of exquisite pieces of porcelains, clay sculptures and Raku, decorated with the beauty that reflects nature, color and texture. She has many students who arrive daily at her workshop to study technique, color theory, and how to translate their idea into an art piece.
She believes that anyone can do pottery; it’s really a matter of letting go of preconceived ideas, thus freeing oneself to CREATE.
Dr. Neal Schleifer
Neal Schleifer is an active poet/writer in the community and a founding member of Poetry Works. He received a Ringling Towers Fund Individual Artist Award in Literature and a Hermitage Residency Fellowship. He is the author of Practicing Imperfection and the editor of two poetry anthologies. His poetry and essays have been published in numerous journals.
As a Teaching Artist, Dr. Schleifer introduced new middle and high schools to the Van Wezel program. Dr. Schleifer has presented numerous residencies at all levels, from elementary school to adult, in both Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Former English Chair at Pine View School for the Gifted, Dr. Schleifer authored state approved Creative Writing courses and led professional development workshops for teachers and administrators in Language Arts, writing and technology. He founded and implemented an international cooperative learning program entitled Global Vision. He also received two National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar Fellowships.
Dr. Schleifer has organized Arts Day Poetry Readings and planned cooperative programs and workshops with the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, the Sarasota Reading Festival, and other community institutions and theaters. Known for his Melville scholarship, he also serves as a judge for Academic Olympics and writing competitions. An advocate of arts integration and the transformative power of expression, he works with teachers in all subject areas and writers at all levels, often bringing music, art and theater into the writing process.
Brenda Smoak is one of twenty National VSA Teaching Artist Fellows. She is a visual artist who specializes in community building residencies and often engages local businesses and artisans in her projects. Using a myriad of materials and techniques, she creates unique art experiences while seamlessly integrating the curriculum into the lesson. Her most sought after residency involves having students plot out and paint a mural, build a waterfall and plant a garden. In the process of creating this permanent outdoor installation, students learn math, science, literary, and 21st Century life skills. “I believe in fostering opportunities to build self-esteem, promote social justice, and ecological awareness in each of my residencies,” she says.
Brenda’s flexibility to work with individuals of all ages and abilities has provided her the opportunity to work in schools, community centers, hospitals, and at-risk facilities. She has taught at the Smithsonian Institution, public, private and charter schools, as well as local businesses and nonprofits. Brenda is also a freelance writer, blogger and social media expert. She presents webinars in a variety of curriculum-related areas and is helping form the first Florida Teaching Artists Association. Listed on EdExploreSRQ as an Artist in Schools for Sarasota County, she is one of 30 Teaching Artists selected by the Kennedy Center to attend its National Teaching Artists Seminar this summer in Washington, DC.
Amy Webber, Teaching Artist and professional artist, has worked with all ages teaching in Sarasota County schools, outreach programs, and the area’s many art centers for the last eight years. Her experience includes architecture, communicative arts, design, photography, painting, ceramics and more. This diverse, highly creative background makes all subject matter easy to co-plan and co-teach when incorporated into an arts integrated program. Amy has ideas that would be appropriate to enhancing any teaching curriculum, be it science, social studies, geography, foreign language, math, language arts, or chemistry.
Sixth grade student at Booker Middle School in his Spanish class.