Blue Planet Writers’ Room was founded in 2008 by long-time colleagues Cora Bresciano and Susan Gay Hyatt. 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 Hyatt, PhD
Co-Founder, Co-Executive Director
Dr. Susan Gay Hyatt 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 worked with the Palm Beach County Cultural Council’s Building Learning Communities program (NEA grant), Arts4Learning/Miami’s Get smART program (with Dr. Gail Burnaford), The Crossroads Institute of New Orleans, The Kravis Center’s DeGeorge Academy, and the Center for Creative Education’s Discover Series. She 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
Safe and Accessible: Creating New Spaces for “Arts Education”
from Equity Pedagogy: Teaching Diverse Student Populations
Finding Your Ikigai
Presentation and Workshop at Bridges Rather than Walls: Blue Planet Writers’ Room 2nd Annual Summer Institute July 2017
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
Tell Me Your Story: Using Creative International Story Exchanges to Introduce Schoolchildren to Global Literacy and Global Issues
Presentation at Humanities & Social Justice Symposium, Florida Atlantic University February 2017
Sharing Stories: Using Writing and the Arts to Connect Students Across Borders
Presentation and Workshop for Education Doctorate Program, Lynn University April 2017
A Bridge of Birds: Creative Work as Positive Resistance
Presentation and Workshop at Bridges Rather Than Walls: Blue Planet Writers’ Room 2nd Annual Summer Institute July 2017
Lorca in New York: The Power of the Querencia to Bring Otherness into Focus
Presentation at The (Dis)Order of Things: Mechanisms of Power and Control Conference, Florida Atlantic University October 2017
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 “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, 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.”
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 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, 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.
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.