Hilsborough County Arts in Education Program Hillsborough County Arts in Education Program
Artists in the Schools

THE ARTISTS IN THE SCHOOLS PROGRAM places professional touring companies and actors, musicians, visual artists, dancers, poets and storytellers in the schools. Each performance or visiting artist presented in the schools has been approved for appropriate quality and content. Prior to each performance or visiting artist in a school site, teachers receive study guides, which contain descriptions of the performance, curriculum connections, pre- and post-performance activities, discussion questions and information specific to the art form.

During the 2013-14 school year over 77,000 students, teachers, staff, parents and community members participated in over 970 arts experiences presented by 93 performing companies and artists at 181 K-12 regular and exceptional, magnet, alternative, and charter schools, and in other educational settings


Words and poetry are given new life and a new twist as four professional spoken-word poets present poetry jams in 25 Hillsborough County High Schools for over 1,000 students and teachers each year. After a poetry-writing workshop with the professional teaching artist and time spent perfecting their own poems, the high school media center becomes a “coffee house,” complete with coffee and snacks, as student poets present their poems at the open mic. After each of the high schools proclaim a winner, the students then attend a workshop at the Arts Council, and perform their winning poems at the District-wide Poetry Jam at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

Working in collaboration with the Supervisor [of Library Media Services 6-12] and media specialists in the District, the Arts Council schedules the following acclaimed teaching artists/poets in the schools:

  • Nyssa Rhiannon Hanger has been writing and performing poetry for over ten years. Her style of writing attempts to bridge the gap between literary poetry and spoken word. Though she is a believer in the creative power of live performance and shares most of her poetry in this fashion, she is well versed in poetic tools that constitute high quality art that can hold up on paper as well.

    Nyssa has formal training in creative writing from her two years at Blake High School, studying under local poet, Gianna Russo. She is currently enrolled in the Master's Program at USF for Religious Studies and also works as a massage therapist specializing in structural bodywork. Since May 2008, she has hosted a weekly open mic, called "Open Mind Open Heart Open Mic," and co-founded a love-project created to connect community artists and explore the power of love performance, Door Stop Productions, whose aim is to hold open the door to your mind and heart.
  • Walter “Wally B.” Jennings is a poet-turned-performer who comes across as trustworthy and honest, and who just happens to have been blessed with the gift of public speaking. He has been writing poetry for 20 years and performing publicly for the past 10 years. He writes freely and speaks from the depths of the heart, regardless of whether he is performing in front of 1 or 1000. His poetry jam/free verse style poems share and discuss common experiences from everyday life, ranging from: diabetes, marriage and fatherhood, youth empowerment, and self-determination. He uses tact, transparency, and humility as instruments to connect with his listeners and does not use profanity or vulgarity, to ensure his messages can be communicated in all mediums. Wally is a 1998 graduate of Florida A&M University (Cum Laude), receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Economics.

    Wally B. is the founder of “Black on Black Rhyme-Tampa”, one of Central Florida’s largest and longest running open-mic poetry shows. Also, he is the founder of “Heard ‘Em Say” Teen Poetry Night. “Heard ‘Em Say” was established to provide our community’s youth with a healthy social outlet and platform to express themselves and promote growth in the areas of: self esteem, written and oral communication, networking, social tolerance, and cultural understanding through the art of spoken word poetry.
  • Angelique “Giddy” Perez, Giddy is a spoken-word poet, beat boxer and emcee originally from Brooklyn, New York. She now resides in Tampa, FL & embraces the city as her own. Giddy was a member of the Sacred Sounds Slam team that took 2nd place out of 32 teams at the Southern Fried Poetry Slam 2011 in Atlanta, Ga. She is the current slam-master of The Misfits Slam Team who tied for second place at 2013's Southern Fried Poetry Slam in New Orleans, LA. She is a part-time poet and full-time barber. In July and August of 2012 she went on tour with her teammate, Benjamin "Ben B" Beelman, touring 13 states and 36 cities. During the duration of that tour they facilitated workshops as well as gave out free haircuts to kids in need. Giddy is the creator of the "It's Your World" spoken-word CD. She has won poetry slams in Miami, FL, Asheville, NC, and Austin TX. Giddy has worked under Walter "Wally B" Jennings in the Artists in the Schools program mentoring youth poets in Hillsborough County schools. She recently competed in the 2014 Women Of The World Poetry Slam and walked away ranked 10th in the world.
  • Ranney Lawrence is a prolific poet known for his hip-hop infused, neo-beatnik diatribes. He has show- cased his poetic work in many of the nine one-man shows created in the last decade. Ranney performed The Break of Dawn: Tracing the Origins of Speech, an abstract 30 minute, stream-of-consciousness language odyssey, at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. He won the top prize at a spoken word competition held by the Universal Poets in Ybor City, Fl. Also, "ranney" was a 2003 nominee for "Best International Poet" by The Farrago Poetry Group in London. He has headlined at poetry slams and festivals all over the world. Signature pieces include the room shaking, "Zounding: Amen. I'm in. Amen. I Passed the Baraka, "the confrontational "The Role Model We Will Never Hear About," the stunning “A.N.G.R.Y., "the manic "Higher," and the flavorful "Next Time..."

The Arts Council is partnering with Head 'Em Say Teen Poetry Nights to sponsor monthly poetry jams for teens scheduled on the last Friday of every month at 8:00 pm:

Taproot Community Cultural Center
1917 N. Howard Ave
Tampa, FL 33607

 Admission is free and teen poets are encouraged to attend and to perform.

Open Mind Open Heart Open Mic

Hosted by Nyssa Hanger and Door Stop Productions

  • Every Thursday, 7-9pm at Cafe Hey, 1540 N. Franklin St.

Located in the same building as the Oceanic Oriental Market,
directly on the corner of Franklin and Kay Street,
slightly North of 1-275.

The mic is open to all performance genres & audiences of all ages

For more information visit www.doorstoptampa.wordpress.com
or find us on Face Book, Door Stop Productions

Carol Peckett Memorial Touring Artist Fund


Thanks to the generosity of the following people, this fund has been established to honor Carol by funding a Hillsborough County touring artist in the school. A staunch friend of the arts, especially arts in education, Carol began (with Joe Testasecca) the Arts Council/Hillsborough County
School District Artists-in-the-Schools Program in 1973

Carol is deeply missed, but thanks to her efforts, the Arts in Education program has grown to be an integral part of the District’s dynamic arts initiatives.

Our gracious thanks to the following supporters: Jackie and Donald Genovese, Leslie and John Osterweil, Michelle and Sean Lyons, Val and Mark Peterson, Caroll Vick, Annette Armstrong, Rachael Bail, Ronald Walker, Sharyn Brookins, Ruth G. Kruglick, Shirley Herris, Elayne and Marc Baskin, the Bloombergs, Kid's Stuff Staff 2007, Donna Peckett and Danielle Dresden - Tap It New Works Ensemble Theater.

More information...


Carol Peckett
Carol Peckett

Artists in the Schools Performance Catalog Artists in the School Forms