Blue Planet Writers’ Room was founded in 2008 by long-time colleagues Cora Bresciano and Susan Gay Wemette. Blue Planet’s talented teaching writers and teaching artists have worked with more than 4,000 students in the USA, England, Ireland, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Mali, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Uganda, and China, improving their skills in writing, the arts, and global competence, and increasing their joy at learning and sharing with their local and international peers.

Susan and Cora also provide dynamic professional development workshops for educators who want to increase their students’ level of global competence by bringing the world into their classrooms.

Meet all the talented folks who keep Blue Planet spinning.

Susan Gay Wemette, PhD

Co-Founder, Co-Executive Director

Susan Hyatt

Dr. Susan Gay Wemette is an arts educator with twenty years’ experience in theater and arts education. She holds a BFA in theater, an MFA in Acting, and a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction (focus on arts education). Susan has taught as an adjunct faculty member at Lynn University and Florida Atlantic University.

From 2002-2009, she served as the director of education for a regional theater company, where she created collaborative drama and writing programs with students in South Florida and their peers in Rwanda, South Africa, and Kosovo. She also created drama and writing programs for the young women at the Transitions Home for Teen Mothers, residents of The Lord’s Place Homeless Shelter, and children with severe disabilities at Royal Palm School. In 2008, she received the Palm Beach County Cultural Council’s Arts Educator of the Year Award. Susan served as the Arts Integration Project Manager (2012-2014) for the School District of Palm Beach County’s $1.2 million Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD) grant from the U.S. Department of Education, which focused on enhancing student achievement through arts integration, supporting teachers with high-quality professional development in order to sustain their integrated practice, and developing a model that can be replicated in other school districts.

As a program evaluator, she has consulted with the Palm Beach County Cultural Council, Arts4Learning/Miami, The Crossroads Institute of New Orleans, The Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, The Center for Creative Education, FAU University Galleries, and Theatre Lab at Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Wemette is currently serving as consulting investigator on the School District of Palm Beach County’s AEMDD federal arts integration grant (2014-2018).

Susan’s Publications and Appearances

WRITING

Safe and Accessible: Creating New Spaces for “Arts Education”
from Equity Pedagogy: Teaching Diverse Student Populations

Creativity in an Arts Integrated Third Space: A Case Study of Elementary School Students in an International Collaboration. (Doctoral Dissertation).

“Fresh Perspectives: Arts Integration in Palm Beach County.” Art & Culture Magazine

SPEAKING

Building Global Competence through Arts Integration: Connecting Your Students to the World through Visual Art and Writing
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts

Finding Your Ikigai
Blue Planet Writers’ Room 2nd Annual Summer Institute

Bringing the World Into Your Classroom: Creating an International Collaboration Project for Your Students
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts

Arts Revolution: Integrating the Arts into Your Classroom
Conference Organizer, Palm Beach County School District

Assessing Creativity through Qualitative Research: A Photo/Portfolio Conference Technique
Ethnographic and Qualitative Research Conference, Las Vegas

Creativity in an Arts-Integrated Classroom
Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Partners in Education Conference

An Environment of Curiosity: Infusing Your Teaching with Creativity
Blue Planet Writers’ Room 1st Annual Summer Institute

Friends in Far-off Places: Creating International Projects in Your Classroom
Palm Beach County Language and Culture Conference

It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane—No, It’s Superheroes in Your Classroom!
Palm Beach County Arts Integration Conference

Make a Book & Fill It Up: Integrating Visual Art into the Academic Curriculum
Florida Alliance for Arts Education Symposium

Writing in the Everglades: Integrating Creative Writing and Visual Art into the Science Curriculum
Palm Beach County School District

What Rhymes With ‘Technology’? Making a Podcast Of  Your Students’ Writing
Palm Beach County Education Foundation Conference

Tiger Paws: Creating a Multi-Disciplinary, Multi-Lingual, Multi-Cultural Webzine With Ethnically Diverse Elementary School Students
Palm Beach County Language & Culture Conference: A Global Vision

The Planet in Your Classroom
Florida Atlantic University Global Education Symposium

Cora Bresciano, MFA

CO-FOUNDER, CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

 

With a background in several art forms, a wealth of experience in non-profit grantwriting and executive leadership, and an extensive background in developing and implementing international writing and arts projects, Cora brings a unique professional edge to her position as co-founder and co-executive director of Blue Planet Writers’ Room. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in English/Creative Writing from Florida Atlantic University, a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Hofstra University in New York, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in Comparative Studies, with a concentration in Cultures, Languages, and Literatures, from Florida Atlantic University. Her research in that program focuses on the power of story to connect or divide people across borders; she is particularly interested in the construction of national cultural narratives and the ways in which fiction and first-person narrative can interrogate and disrupt the inaccuracies and omissions in those stories.

She has served as the Cultural and Educational Projects Director for 3-Way Split, a multi-country business, arts, and education collaboration, and she has presented on her work in such venues as the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, Florida Atlantic University’s Global Education Conference, and the 3-Way Split International Forum in England. Recently, her article about the effects of tri-lingualism within the context of an arts-integrated international collaboration was published by Teaching Artist Journal.

As a creative writer, Cora has been the recipient of the Frank and Courtney Brogan Award for Fiction for her short story “The Mermaid.” As a theatrical composer and lyricist, she was awarded a number of production grants from the Broward Cultural Division for her children’s musicals, which have been produced in theatres in Florida and New York. A grant from the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County also helped her create Hometown Stories, her international writing project website.

Cora’s personal background is as international as her professional experience: raised in a family of immigrants from two countries, in a house where three languages were spoken, she has a special interest in creating spaces where cultures can come together peacefully and amazing things can happen.

Cora’s Publications and Appearances

WRITING

Creative Connections: How Writing and the Arts Contribute to Beautiful, Meaningful International Projects Getting Smart (upcoming Feb. 2018)

Angelina, Who Whispered in Three Languages: A Story of One Success in Arts Integration and International Collaboration
Teaching Artist Journal

How to Make a Planet The MFA at FAU Blog

Classroom Odyssey global education blog

“The Mermaid” and “American Cheese Under the Stars,” originally published, in traditional print, in Coastlines literary magazine. “The Mermaid” won the Frank & Courtney Brogan Award for Fiction, and “American Cheese…” was a finalist for the Brogan Award in Creative Non-Fiction.

 

SPEAKING

What’s a Crankie?? Using International Story Exchanges to Build Global Competence and Connect Students Across Borders
8th Annual Global Education Conference, Global Education Conference Network       
Recording of the presentation is available here. It begins at about 2:12.

Lorca in New York: The Power of the Querencia to Bring Otherness into Focus
The (Dis)Order of Things: Mechanisms of Power and Control Conference, Florida Atlantic University

A Bridge of Birds: Creative Work as Positive Resistance
Blue Planet Writers’ Room 2nd Annual Summer Institute

Using International Story Exchanges to Think Critically about International Affairs
Lynn University

Tell Me Your Story: Using Creative International Story Exchanges to Introduce Schoolchildren to Global Literacy and Global Issues
Humanities & Social Justice Symposium, Florida Atlantic University

Trading Stories: Connecting Students Across Borders with Creative Story Exchanges 
Blue Planet Writers’ Room 1st Annual Summer Institute

Bringing the World Into Your Classroom: Creating an International Collaboration Project for Your Students
Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts

Do Do That Haiku That You Do So Well! Using Haiku and Haibun to Reinforce Content Knowledge and Comprehension
Palm Beach County School District

Friends in Far-off Places: Creating International Projects in Your Classroom
Palm Beach County Language and Culture Conference

Meet Me In The Third Space: International Collaboration in the Classroom
3-Way Split International Forum, Southend-on-Sea, England

It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane—No, It’s Superheroes in Your Classroom!
Palm Beach County Arts Integration Conference

Make a Book & Fill It Up: Integrating Visual Art into the Academic Curriculum
Florida Alliance for Arts Education Symposium

Writing in the Everglades: Integrating Creative Writing and Visual Art into the Science Curriculum
Palm Beach County School District

What Rhymes With ‘Technology’? Making a Podcast Of  Your Students’ Writing
Palm Beach County Education Foundation Conference

Tiger Paws: Creating a Multi-Disciplinary, Multi-Lingual, Multi-Cultural Webzine With Ethnically Diverse Elementary School Students
Palm Beach County Language & Culture Conference: A Global Vision

The Planet in Your Classroom
Florida Atlantic University Global Education Symposium

Up, Up, Down, Down: Is It Only The Young Who Can’t Sit Still for an Unfamiliar Cultural Experience?
Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities

Lauren Palmieri

Director of Membership; Teaching Artist--Dance

Lauren Palmieri is a dancer, arts administrator, educator, and advocate. As Director of Membership for Blue Planet, she coordinates the giving programs, events, and professional development opportunities that benefit our valued members and donors. Outside of Blue Planet, Lauren serves as Company Manager of Theatre Lab, The Professional Resident Company of Florida Atlantic University. She holds a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from S.U.N.Y Brockport and has taught at numerous studios throughout Upstate New York as well as at The Kravis Center’s DeGeorge Academy in West Palm Beach. She has performed at venues including Dance New Amsterdam, Green Space, Peridance Capezio Center, and Jacob’s Pillow.

Kimberly Smith

Teaching Writer

Kimberly “Nyesha” Smith is best known for being a Spoken Word–Neo-Soul Singer, prolific songwriter, and writing teacher. Kimberly Smith is a native to West Palm Beach, FL. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Florida State University and an MFA in Creative Writing with a focus on Screenwriting from Full Sail University.

In her first work of poetry, Edge of Light: a Woman’s Soulful Requiem of Love, she makes the transition from a personal journal to a public collection of poetry. She began her poetic and musical journey with the national performance poetry organization Black on Black Rhyme Poetry Troupe in Tallahassee, FL. This experience afforded her the opportunity to perform on a national platform.

Combining her passion for the written word with her love of teaching, Kimberly works as a Language Arts Instructor and AICE Writing Teacher in the Palm Beach County School District and as a teaching artist of spoken word poetry for the Center for Creative Education.

Matt Stabile

Teaching Writer

Matt Stabile, a Miami native, is a writer, director, actor, and educator. After attending the acclaimed New World School of the Arts, he earned his BFA in Playwriting, Directing, and Scenic Design at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts, where was named a recipient of the prestigious Rosenbaum Award for Playwriting. After he returned to South Florida in 2004, a new passion and career path opened to him when he began assisting teaching artists in Educational Outreach Workshops with Fantasy Theatre Factory.  Soon after, Matt was invited to join the faculty at G-Star School of the Arts, the nation’s largest high school for Film & Television.  After seven years in the classroom, he left his position as Chair of the Acting Department to pursue his artistic career on a full-time basis.

Matt has worked closely with the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts serving as a teaching artist and Artistic Coordinator for the summer ArtsCamp, a teaching artist for the De George Academy, and was honored to be selected as the Kravis Center’s Outstanding Local Teacher for May 2013. From 2013-2015, Matt worked with Theatre at Arts Garage to develop and implement the highly successful YES Lab Theatre Outreach Program. He currently serves as Associate Artistic Director of THEATRE LAB, the resident professional company of Florida Atlantic University where he oversees The Future PAGES Project – an educational outreach program that provides free writing workshops and live-theatrical experiences to more than 1400 students each year.

A proud member of Actors Equity Association, Matt has performed on stages across South Florida, written and produced material for the stage and screen, and is a passionate advocate for arts and education. Whether as an actor, director, teacher, or writer, he has spent his life trying to recapture that feeling of flying past “the second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.”

Luke Hurt

Teaching Writer

Luke Hurt recently graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a BA in English with a specialization in Writing and Rhetoric, also earning his Professional and Technical Writing Certificate. Luke was a member of the events and marketing team for Coastlines, the FAU undergraduate literary journal. He has also been a writing intern for the Pediatric Oncology Support Team, and most recently, he was the educational outreach intern for FAU’s Theatre Lab Future Pages Project. Luke is passionate about the power cultivated from the use of creative language and plans on pursuing an MFA in creative writing. Luke is elated to be sharing his passion with future generations as a Teaching Writer for Blue Planet Writers’ Room.

Jill Carr

Teaching Artist--Theatre

Jill Carr is a South Florida native who has been acting and teaching locally for many years. She graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a BFA in Theatre and a BA in Psychology; she then studied at American College of Education, receiving a Masters in Education with a focus on Curriculum and Instruction. Jill taught theatre at G Star School of the Arts, where she created and implemented curriculum for grade levels 9-12, including courses for the International Baccalaureate program.

Recently Jill joined Theatre Lab at Florida Atlantic University as their Education Outreach Associate, where she assists in planning, designing, and implementing The Future PAGES Project, an educational outreach program dedicated to providing students with unique writing workshops and theatrical performances.

Jill is so grateful to be a part of Blue Planet Writer’s Room, where she has the wonderful opportunity to combine her two passions, education and the arts.

Niki Fridh

Teaching Artist--Theatre

Niki Fridh is a professional actor, photographer, arts educator and culinary aficionado who’s originally from Chicago, Illinois but has made her home here in South Florida for the majority of her life. Niki is an award-winning actress who has graced stages across South Florida, including Zoetic Stage, Actor’s Playhouse, Thinking Cap Theatre, Island City Stage, Theatre Lab, City Theatre, Broward Stage Door, and many more.

From 2007 through 2013, she was the Theatre Arts instructor at Gulf Stream School where she designed and implemented curriculum for K-8 Theatre instruction and wrote, developed, and directed multiple original productions centered around the school’s annual theme. In addition, Niki has worked as a teaching artist at The Kravis Center for the Performing Arts on multiple programs including The DeGeorge Academy and annual ArtsCamp.

Niki is thrilled to be a part of Blue Planet Writers’ Room, working with young students here in Florida and around the world.

Ronni Gerstel

Teaching Artist--Puppetry

Ronni Gerstel, the creative spirit behind Flamingo Park Puppets and partner in ZingThing puppets, has been a professional puppeteer, puppet builder and instructor for 18 years. She regularly tours elementary schools throughout Palm Beach County, Florida, performing educational programs for the Mental Health Association, the Solid Waste Authority, and the Palm Beach County School District. In addition, she has produced and performed in original productions for the Jewish National Fund, the School District’s Multicultural department, the Palm Beach Zoo, and the Puppetry Arts Center of the Palm Beaches.

As a builder, Ronni has designed and fabricated puppets for the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science, the Florida Reef Foundation, the Palm Beach County School’s “Character Counts” program, Young Singers of the Palm Beaches and more, in addition to building characters for her own productions. She is on the staff of The Puppet Network, a professional studio in Fort Lauderdale.

Ronni has created and directed puppetry programs for children in arts camps and after-school programs at the Kravis Center, the JCC, the Broward Center and in underserved communities. The goal of these programs is to encourage cooperation and creativity, and boost self-esteem among young people. In addition, Ronni has been awarded grants from the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, and the Neighborhood Arts Residency Program to create puppet programs with young people, which promote tolerance and understanding.

As an artist with the Center for Creative Education, Ronni partners with teachers to teach curriculum through the art of puppetry. She won five “outstanding collaboration” awards for her work with the Center. One classroom collaboration is featured in the documentary, ”Project LEAP: Learning Out Loud”, and her work has been featured on The Education Network. She also teaches seminars on “Puppets in Education” for the school district, local museums and art centers, and at Puppetry festivals.

Allie Osmer

Teaching Artist--Visual Art & Photography

Allie Osmer studied Photography and Digital Imaging at Ringling College of Art and Design and has a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from University of South Florida. She is also the Youth Development Coordinator for Children’s Home Society’s Palm Beach Division, where she recently celebrated her second anniversary overseeing “Choices,” a cultural arts program serving youth in three residential programs. When she isn’t working, Allie enjoys spending time on the ocean scuba diving and sailing.

Jill Lavetsky

Teaching Artist--Visual Art

Jill Lavetsky is a visual artist and educator, specializing primarily in drawing and painting. She has been teaching drawing at Florida Atlantic University and Palm Beach State College and was the Education Coordinator at the University Galleries FAU, where she managed the Artist Mentorship Program, an outreach initiative for underserved youth in Palm Beach County. For three years she taught visual arts classes to inmates at Homestead Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in South Florida.

Jill is an exhibiting artist; recent exhibitions include Drawn at Manifest Creative Research Gallery and Drawing Center in Cincinnati, and All Florida Invitational at the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

Having recently become a mother, Jill has compiled her watercolor illustrations into a book called Days With Rae: A Visual Journal of Early Motherhood, which documents the joys, challenges, and hilarity of breastfeeding and raising an infant.

Mary Stucchi

Teaching Artist--Photography, Theatre

With a Theatre Arts B.A. from Palm Beach Atlantic University; teaching experience in the hills of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania; and years of professional photography experience, Mary Stucchi continues to look for ways to share her love for the arts with young hearts everywhere. While Mary specializes in business and theatre portraiture, she also performs onstage with the professional TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) touring company, StoryMakers. Many weekends she stars in one of her favorite roles as education assistant for the Kravis Center’s DeGeorge Academy for the Performing Arts, which delivers professional performing arts instruction to economically disadvantaged youth. Her mission is to always “find her light” whether onstage or through her camera lens. For Mary, giving back to students reflects that light.