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CAA Announces Art For All Grant Award Recipients

The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA) is pleased to announce Art for All grants totaling $32,000 were recently awarded to 13 Walton County teachers, students, artists and organizations to support arts education, creative projects and further their artistic endeavors. In its decades of fostering creativity, the CAA has awarded grants totaling more than $845,000. 

Thirteen Teacher Grants benefiting seven area schools, including Bay School, Freeport Elementary, Magnet Innovation Center, Seaside Neighborhood School, South Walton Academy, The Nature School Cooperative, and The WISE Magnet School were awarded. The purpose of the Teacher mini grant is to enhance the visual, literary and performing arts experience of all Walton County school-age children K-12 in public schools, private 501c (3) schools and home schools through funding for special enhancement activities established by a teacher.

In addition to the Teacher Grants, two college scholarships were awarded to Avery Joyner of DeFuniak Springs and Ferrell Crawley of Santa Rosa Beach, two Walton County college-bound students who have declared a major in the visual, literary or performing arts. Local artist Merry Beth Myrick was awarded a grant for professional development to take advantage of specific skill-building educational opportunities to advance her work, and three grants were awarded to local non-profit organizations, including Emerald Coast Theatre Company, Longleaf Writers Conference, and Bay School serving Walton County in the area of Arts Education. 

These grants will enable the recipients to purchase materials, attend continuing education, or cover other expenses related to creative projects and reflect the diverse and vibrant creative community that the CAA aims to nurture.

“The CAA was founded on giving, and we are committed to making a deeper impact each year through the funding of arts education initiatives,” said CAA Executive Director Jennifer Steele.  “We encourage artists, teachers, schools, students and organizations to apply as often as possible. The application process is simple, and we are eager to support the efforts of those who are making our community a better place through the arts.”

The recipients of this round of Art for All funding include:

Stacey Braxton, Bay School: Funds awarded will be used for pre-K students who are developmentally delayed, including some who are non-verbal, to engage with different types of paint, textured brushes, and various canvases to enhance their artistic experiences.

Cassie Wheatley, Bay School: Funds awarded will be used for pre-K students to use visual arts to explore and express their perceptions, which is crucial for those with limited verbal communication. Materials and supplies will be provided for creating visual art projects, fostering exploration, creativity, and experimentation with color, texture, and technique.

Amy Simpson, Bay Elementary: Funds awarded will be used to incorporate materials such as modeling clay, kinetic sand, and pottery clay to enhance fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, pencil grasp, and spatial awareness, ultimately improving students ability to manipulate writing utensils and perform tasks like snapping, buttoning, and tying.

Kimi Parker, Freeport Elementary: Funds awarded will be used for teaching non-verbal Pre-K students, visual art, music, and dramatic play to promote communication, listening skills, peer interaction, independence, and the use of core vocabulary. These activities help students express themselves and explore various art mediums through their senses, fostering excitement and engagement.

Phaedra Nunley, Freeport Elementary: Awarded funds will be used daily in the art center, dramatic play area, and various other centers during both structured and unstructured activities. Goals are to develop the students artistic ability while having fun with various different mediums and also to begin to have an appreciation for their own art, the art of peers, and the art of others outside the classroom setting.

Kristin Fliehman, Freeport Elementary: Funds awarded will be used for visual art, music, and dramatic play to help non-verbal Pre-K students develop communication, listening skills, peer interaction, independence, and core vocabulary. These activities excite the students and aid in teaching colors, shapes, a love for art, and fostering fine motor skills through active learning.

Heather Hester, Freeport Elementary: Funds awarded will be used to create art activity books featuring students' artwork and math-related art activities, teaching one letter each week. At the end of the year, parents will be invited to see the books, with the goal of helping students learn the alphabet through hands-on, creative activities.

Margaret Aresco, Magnet Innovation Center High School: Funds awarded will be used to enhance students' understanding of human anatomy through art projects. These projects include creating 3D models of anatomical structures, making artistic interpretations of microscope slide images, drawing large-scale anatomy pathways with sidewalk chalk, and a "petri dish art" project using non-pathogenic microbes.

Weidia Couts, Seaside Neighborhood School: Funds awarded will be used by seventh and eighth grade Spanish I-II students to celebrate Hispanic culture by making piñatas and Molas from Panama. This cultural celebration will engage students, promoting language proficiency and a deeper understanding and appreciation of different traditions.

Ashley Hackney, South Walton Academy: Funds awarded will be used to introduce students to printmaking through linoleum and cyanotype printing projects themed around Alice in Wonderland. The goal is to build student confidence with new materials and tools, enhance their understanding of the printmaking process, and deepen their appreciation for texture, line depth, and notable printmaking artists.

Korin Beckham, The Nature School Cooperative: Funds awarded will be used to build our art resource library. Students will learn about famous artists by reading biographies, looking closely and thoughtfully at their works, considering how their lives, historical period and locations affected their artwork, and to connect with those artists and art history through creating their own artwork inspired and influenced by those great works. 

Sharon Mosely, The Wise Center Magnet School: Funding will support opportunities for non-verbal students ages 3 and 4 to express themselves and communicate through art, using weekly stories to capture and describe their experiences without words, giving them a voice. The grant items will allow the students to explore their creativity, develop communication skills, and foster independence in their classroom activities. This will boost their confidence in showcasing their finished artwork and expanding their vocabulary to explain their creations.

Kassie Young, The Wise Center Magnet School: Funds received from this grant will engage young learners in a fun interactive way allowing them to explore through play while creating and expressing themselves through music. Activities will promote positive cognitive, social, and emotional development through music and movement to foster a sense of community amongst peers. 

Avery Joyner, a DeFuniak Springs student currently attending the University of Central Florida majoring in Studio Art shares, “My dream is to own my own gallery, create a name for myself, travel and put on art shows, and offer private art lessons to kids who are just as passionate about art as I am.”

Ferrell Crawley, a Santa Rosa Beach student now attending the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY majoring in Fine Art Painting shares, “I have created a significant body of work this year and have made an effort to work outside of class to continue to hone my skills outside of the classroom. While painting is my first love, I adore each of the artistic practices I have learned this year and will be continuing to use them throughout my career.”

Merry Beth Myrick creates wearable memories of art, inspired by life and the stories shared with her. Her designs represent the past, present and future expressing the beauty, strength and grit and vulnerability. Funds awarded support her continuing education which will focus on small scale casting techniques and their history in the art of jewelry making.  

Bay School will use funds awarded to purchase the supplies and materials needed to create artwork for their 3rd Annual Art Show. Students will create works of art based on famous artists. The students will learn about different artists each month and have a turn to create a masterpiece based on that artist's work. By the end of the school year, students will have a portfolio of work to be displayed in the Art Show.

Emerald Coast Theatre Company received an Art for All grant in support of its Theatre for Young Audiences program which includes school field trips to the theatre, an educational theatre tour, and the Theatre for the Very Young program (TVY). The TVY program’s purpose is to provide children (in school, out of school and pre-school) with the opportunity to experience live theatre where literature comes to life on stage. In this participatory multi-sensory theatre genre for children ages 6 months to 5 years and their caregivers, kids become an integral part of the storytelling and are fully engaged throughout the show by professional adult and youth actors.  Studies have shown that benefits include enhanced literary knowledge, tolerance, and empathy among children as young as 6 months up through high school. 

Longleaf Writers Conference received funds to support their annual event which includes a full week of intensive and generative writing workshops as well as outreach opportunities to connect the attendees and visiting scholars with seventh and eleventh grade students. 

Applications can be found and completed online at The next deadline for submissions is November 15, 2024. 

For more information about the CAA and the Art for All program, call 850-622-5970 or visit


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