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The Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, in partnership with the Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG), an affiliate of IPEI, is offering a creative retreat for teachers of the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) teachers and other districts in Tompkins County during the February and March school breaks. The program is designed to provide residency-type retreats for local teachers in the following disciplines: creative writing, photography/film/video, and painting/sculpture/visual art. The program is totally free to attend. Teachers were selected through a lottery system.

February session teachers included: Mary Balfour, a speech and language pathologist in the Dryden school district; Abigail Bokaer, a kindergarten teacher at Fall Creek Elementary; Jon Raimon, a humanities teacher and service learning coordinator at Lehman Alternative Community School; Mihal Ronen, a second grade teacher at Fall Creek Elementary; and Keith Thompson, a social studies teacher at Ithaca High School.

March session teachers include: Melissa Enns, a social worker at Beverly J. Martin Elementary; Brenda Keeler, an art teacher at Dryden and Cassavant Elementary; Naomi Raimon, a reading teacher at Lehman Alternative Community School; Jonathan Shyne, a media and woodworking teacher at Ithaca High School; and Jessica Sratton, an art teacher at Lansing High School.

The teachers will be provided with a five-day, four-night retreat with private accommodations, studio space, and hearty, chef-prepared vegetarian dinners. These retreats are modeled after Saltonstall's summer residency program and provide our local teachers with uninterrupted time and space in which to focus on their own creative endeavors.

Lesley Williamson, director of the Saltonstall Foundation, was inspired to create the teacher retreat program by a similar one at a Florida arts colony.

"This is a very mission-specific way for us to support a group of local artists and writers who don't often get the chance to be artists and writers. We are so pleased to offer this opportunity to local teachers with the help of the Fine Arts Booster Group."   

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