Florida School of the Arts

Meet our Faculty and Staff

Emily Schafer, Professor

Emily Schafer
Dean of Florida School of the Arts

office: 386-312-4315

Dana Cotton, Admissions Coordinator

Dana Cotton
Admissions Coordinator

office: 386-312-4304
text: 386-312-7556

Rachael Holt, Administrative Assistant

Rachael Holt
Academic Affairs Office Specialist

office: 386-312-4303

Christine Alfano, Professor

Christine Alfano
Adjunct - Musical Theater


Dan Askew, Professor

Dan Askew
Studio Art

office: 386-312-4323

Sarah Alexander, Professor

Sarah Alexander
Adjunct - Studio Art,
Gallery Director

office: 386-312-4313

Timothy Castell, Professor

Timothy Castell
Scenic/Lighting Design

office: 386-312-4123

Russell Franks, Professor

Russell Franks
Musical Theater

office: 386-312-4318

Tiffany Jordan, Professor

Tiffany Jordan
Costume Design

office: 386-312-4320

Kevin Kelly, Professor

Kevin Kelly

office: 386-312-4312

Walter Lara, Professor

Walter Lara

office: 904-576-8767

Ryan Mahannah

Ryan Mahannah

office: 386-312-4310

Chuck Marsh, Professor

Chuck Marsh
Studio Art

office: 386-312-4314

Jessica Mayhew, Professor

Jessica Mayhew
Dance + Ballet

office: 386-312-4308

Andrea Montez, Professor

Andrea Montez

office: 386-312-4311

Justin Murphy, Professor

Justin Murphy
New Media Design & Animation

office: 386-312-4319

Kandie Smith, Professor

Kandie Smith
Musical Theater Voice

office: 386-312-4309


Florida School of the Arts logo





Dana Cotton - Admissions Coordinator


Dana Cotton serves as the Admissions Coordinator for the Florida School of the Arts. With a personal love for art and theatre, Dana strives to attract new students with a desire to learn and grow their craft as they follow their personal dreams and aspirations.

Having earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Jacksonville State University, Dana understands the true value of the education and training made available to the future students at Florida School of the Arts.

Dana has twenty years of experience as a professional business manager and sales coordinator. In her spare time, she continues to perfect her photographic techniques, traveling, stand-up paddle-boarding, body boarding, swimming, dancing, and enjoying disc golf with her family.



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Christine Alfano - Musical Theater


Florida State University 2019
University of Tennessee 2022

Praised for her powerful and sparkling voice, Professor Alfano has charmed audiences at home and abroad. She is an alum of the Knoxville Opera Studio, Palm Beach Opera Studio, and the Gulfshore Opera Emerging Artists Program. In addition to her activity as a singer, she is active in the opera world as an emerging director. A resident stage director for the Vienna Summer Music Festival since 2021, she has directed two world premieres in both the USA and Austria. In addition to her music performance degrees (Florida State University '19 and University of Tennessee '22) she also holds a Graduate Certificate in Music Theory Pedagogy from the University of Tennessee, and a Bachelor’s degree in Italian from FSU. She is the co-founder and Executive Artistic Director of Bold City Opera in Jacksonville, Florida.



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Dan Askew - Studio Art


B.F.A., University of Southern Mississippi
M.F.A., University of North Texas

With an MFA in Sculpture from the University of North Texas, and a BFA from the University of Southern Mississippi, Dan has been teaching in Higher Education since 1990, and teaching at FloArts since 2011. He also has experience as director of a sculpture program, university gallery director, graphic artist, sign painter, special effects motion control camera assistant for ILM (Industrial Light and Magic), an architectural sculptor for themed architecture (Atlantic Casino, Bahamas), and arts coordinator for a community outreach program for at-risk youth in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

With an exclusive background in foundry and having participated in numerous cast iron conferences, his work also includes the use of found objects, fabrication in a variety of materials, video, ceramic elements, kinetic components, painting, photography and graphics.

“An understanding of and participation in contemporary art makes me comfortable with a multi-media approach to teaching art process. Syllabi are designed so that, through different levels, the student will be asked to express an increasingly more sophisticated understanding of a wide range of technical process, the formal language of design, and conceptual directions, with an objective to motivate the student toward independent development, and an imperative that the college experience is not the culmination of the learning journey, but the maturation of a template for lifelong learning.”



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Timothy Castell - Scenic/Lighting Design


M.F.A , University of Florida
B.A , Oklahoma State University

Instructor of Scenic Design and Technology, Tim Castell, joined Florida School of the Arts in 2019 and teaches Principles of Scene Design, Rendering for the Theatre, Scenic Painting, Drafting, and Theatre Production Lab. He earned his BA at Oklahoma State University in Theatre Technology and his MFA at the University of Florida in Scene Design. Tim has been working professionally in the theatre for the past 10 years and was very excited and humbled to join FloArts as an instructor.

Previously, Tim worked for theatre companies such as the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts (PCPA), Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Asolo in Sarasota, Theatre Memphis, Light Opera Oklahoma, and a smattering of others. In addition to carpentry, painting, sculpture, and welding, he loves to design for the theatre and to share his experience with others.



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Russell Franks - Musical Theater


MMus (Voice), CCM, University of Cincinnati
BMus (Voice Performance), Stetson University

Russell Franks is an accomplished singer, performer, director, and voice pedagogue. He has performed dozens of roles with opera houses and theaters throughout the United States and Europe and is well known for his fine singing and strong interpretive skills.

He teaches classes related to voice, piano, music for dance, musicianship for singers, Vocal Company (the resident vocal ensemble) and directs the musical theater project.

In addition to serving as Instructor of Musical Theater here at FloArts, he is also the Artistic Director of Vero Beach Opera.



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Tiffany Jordan - Costume Design


M.F.A., University of Georgia
B.F.A., University of Florida

Tiffany Jordan is the costume shop manager and costume faculty member at Florida School of the Arts. Tiffany received her BFA degree from the University of Florida, and her MFA degree from The University of Georgia. Before beginning her career at Florida School of the Arts, she worked in fashion design and marketing in Orlando Florida.

“If a student leaves my classroom with new skills, I’ve done my job. If a student leaves my classroom knowing they are accepted for who they are, then I’ve reached my goal.“



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Kevin Kelly - Acting


M.F.A., New York University
B.A., California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Kevin Kelly is in his fourth year at FSOA, and teaches Acting, Speech, Directing and Improvisation classes in the Acting Program. Before joining the FloArts faculty he was a professional actor based in New York City for twenty-five years. NYC theater credits include the Public Theater, Manhattan Theater Club, Lincoln Center, and the Acting Company; some favorite regional credits include Arena Stage, the Guthrie, Hartford Stage, Triad Stage and Two River Theater.

TV and film credits include Law & Order and a bunch of soap operas which no longer exist…



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Walter Lara - Photography


B.S., Rochester Institute of Technology
M.B.A., University of North Florida
M.A., Webster University

Walter E. Lara, RBP. Career photographer and educator.

A native of Peru, Lara was educated in Lima, as well as in Miami, Florida, Rochester, New York, and Jacksonville, Florida. As a graduate from the most prestigious school of Photography, The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT, 90), his programs of study included Graphic Arts and Biomedical Photographic Communications. He is a Registered Biological Photographer (RBP). He also holds master’s degrees in Business and Arts in Computer Science from the University of North Florida and Webster University respectively. Lara is also an instructor for SJR State and Florida School of the Arts, where he teaches photography.

Lara’s work started with black & white portraiture techniques; after graduating from RIT he worked as medical photographer, technical director or Medical Informatics and Instructor of Kohler Illumination for University of Florida Health Science Center from 1990-2002.

He continues his work in both scientific and commercial photography with clients in the food service industry, stone fabrication, manufactures and artists abroad.

His extreme photography has landed him assignments with Google View Places 360, for Hilton, Hampton Inn, and Omni Hotels. During the summer months Lara travels abroad, contributing with The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve and Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience as a volunteer and visiting photographer.

Lara’s preferred medium is liquid, glass and nature, aiming for symmetry in motion utilizing extreme optics.

LH84, RIT90, RPB93, UNF95, Webster05. Member of the Florida Art Education Association (FAEA), BioCommunications Association (BCA)



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Ryan Mahannah - Acting


M.F.A, The University of Southern Mississippi (2017)
B.F.A, Florida Atlantic University (2013)

Ryan Mahannah is a South Florida native who is excited to return to Florida and join the wonderful faculty and students at Florida School of the Arts! Most recently, Mahannah was the Theatre Arts Program Coordinator at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Missouri from Fall 2020- Spring 2023. During his time at SFCC, Mahannah was recognized for Excellence in Direction (First Date: The Musical- 2021 and The Tempest- 2023) and Excellence in Fight Direction (Heathers the Musical- 2022) from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region V Festival. Mahannah has eight years of college teaching experience and has taught Acting and Directing all across the USA including stops New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Michigan, Colorado and South Carolina.

Professional Affiliations include: Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), Actor’s Equity (EMC), Dueling Arts International (DAI), Theatrical Intimacy Education (TIE), Association of Theatre Movement Educators (ATME) and the Association of Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).

Recent Regional Credits: Direction of “Timon of Athens” at the Rome Shakespeare Festival in Rome, GA, “The Last Five Years” at the Lynn Riggs Theatre in Tulsa, OK and “She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms” with Evergreen Theatre Collective.

Performances as Trinculo in “The Tempest” (Tulsa PAC/NY Public Theatre Affiliate ), Caden Green in “The Thanksgiving Play” (Talking Horse Productions) and Mortimer Brewster in “Arsenic and Old Lace” (Columbia Entertainment Company).



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Chuck Marsh - Studio Art


B.A., Brevard Junior College
B.F.A., Herron School of Art, at Purdue, Indianapolis, Indiana
M.F.A., University of Regina, Canada

Charles Marsh is a native of Florida’s Space Coast. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Herron School of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana, and his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada. While working toward his Masters, he co-founded and was a printer for Prairie Press, taught printmaking and drawing at the University, and worked as a Master Printer with Moosehead Press in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Mr. Marsh has been Managing Director and printer for the Nelson Wagner Lithography Workshop at Southern Illinois University, Assistant Professor at Illinois State University, Bloomington, and Master Printer at Boody Fine Arts, Jefferson City, Missouri. After eight years as a master printer, he returned to Florida and became a commercial photographer, first for National Merchandise, Inc. and later for Dale Bulock Photography in Jacksonville, Florida. He subsequently bought the business from Mr. Bulock and maintained the commercial photography enterprise as CM@StudioIII. During this time, he also taught photography at Jacksonville University.

Mr. Marsh came to Florida School of the Arts in 1999 as an instructor of graphic design and photography and is currently a Professor teaching drawing, printmaking, and painting. He lives in Interlachen with his, dog and eight cats, and enjoys frequent visits by his daughter, one granddaughter, and grandson. Mr. Marsh also enjoys an eclectic variety of genres in music, television, and movies, as well as the collecting and photographing of small bits of nature for use in his art.



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Jessica Mayhew - Dance and Ballet


B.A., University of Florida
M.F.A., Florida State University

Jessica Mayhew has an M.F.A. degree from Florida State University in Performance and Choreography. Here, she performed with Dance Repertory Theatre and in works by José Limón, Gerri Houlihan, Michael Foley, Andrew Noble, Tim Glenn and Lynda Davis to name a few. Some of Jessica’s professional performance credits include Florida Dance Theater, Surfscape Contemporary Dance Theatre, Jackie O’Toole and Dancers, along with being featured in a film documentary of Alberto Alonso’s life, “Dance of My Heart,” who was the co-founder of the National Ballet of Cuba. Jessica studied closely with Mr. Alonso for over 7 years while working toward her undergraduate degrees and beginning her professional career in teaching and performing. He left an indelible mark on her teaching and choreographic styles.

She has presented her work internationally in Kazakhstan as a collaboration with Peter Kalivas and the PGK Project, Inc. of San Diego, commissioned through the United States Embassy. Nationally, Jessica’s work has been produced at multiple venues and festivals along the East Coast. From N.Y.C. to Homestead, FL., she has been commissioned to set work for various companies, studios and independent artists.

Jessica has served as the professor of Ballet at Florida School of the Arts, St Johns River State College, in Palatka, Florida since 2014. Here, she teaches a variety of technique classes, choreographs for dance concerts and musicals, and enjoys photographing dancers in action.



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Andrea Montez - Dance


B.F.A., The College at Brockport
M.F.A., Wilson College

Born in Los Angeles and raised in New York, Andrea Montez began studying dance and theater at the early age of 7. She earned her BFA in Dance from The College at Brockport and MFA degree in Choreography from Wilson College. Throughout her undergraduate studies, Andrea worked as an apprentice and intern for Red Dirt Dance and Monica Bill Barnes & Company. Additionally, Andrea was the recipient of the Santo J. Giglio Award for Choreography, presented her choreographic research at The American College Dance Association and the National Conference of Undergraduate Research. Upon completing her BFA degree Andrea relocated to New York City, where she danced professionally and began teaching at renowned dance centers, such as 92Y Harkness Dance Center and Mark Morris Dance Group.

Being a New York City based dance artist, Andrea had the great pleasure to perform for Mariah Maloney Dance, Falcon Dance, 92Y’s Community Dance Project NYC, and Sarah Rose Dance, to name a few. Performance venues include, Dixon Place Theater, Hudson Guild Theater, City Center, Buttenweiser Hall, Gibney Dance Center, Mark Morris Dance Center, and Steps on Broadway. Amongst performing and teaching in New York, Andrea simultaneously pursued her MFA via a low residency program at Wilson College.

During that time Andrea worked closely with her mentor David Dorfman, (choreographer of Broadway’s Indecent and artistic director of David Dorfman Dance.) Through her MFA research she began merging the performance mediums of dance and theater. All of which culminated into her MFA thesis concert, an original dance theatre work entitled In Correspondence which premiered at Brooklyn Arts Exchange.

Due to the recent pandemic Andrea relocated from New York to Florida and is now in her inaugural year at Florida School of the Arts. She enthusiastically joins the talented faculty at Flo Arts as Instructor of Contemporary Dance and co-director of the dance program.



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Justin Murphy - New Media Design & Animation


B.A., Jacksonville University
M.A., Academy of Art University

Justin Murphy received his BFA in Computer Art & Design at Jacksonville University and his MFA in Illustration/Concept Art at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He is a published author, illustrator, and animator with over 25 years of experience. His published works include the graphic novels ‘Holidaze’ (2010) and ‘Cleburne’ (2008 Xeric Award Winner & ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year). His stage musical ‘Eagle Song’ (2000) starred Jamie Lynn Sigler of HBO’s ‘The Sopranos’ and his rock opera ‘Fallen Angel’ (2006) won the Best Musical Award at the New York International Fringe Festival.

Prometheus Entertainment has licensed his illustrations for ‘Unexplained’ and ‘In Search of Monsters’ on The History Channel & The Travel Channel. He is also currently in production as the Director and Producer for the animated feature film ‘Dawgtown’ starring Jason Beghe (Chicago PD), Stacey Dash (Clueless) and Former World Heavyweight Champion George Foreman.



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Kandie Smith - Musical Theater Voice


D.M.A., College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati
M.M., University of British Columbia
B.A., Stetson University

Dr. Smith has enjoyed a vibrant career in musical theater and operetta. She has sung leading roles with a variety of local, regional, and international companies, and has sung the soprano solos in a number of oratorios presented by local and regional organizations and orchestras, including the Romanza Festival, St. Augustine Community Chorus, Winter Park Bach Festival, the Orlando Messiah Society, and the Daytona Beach Choral Society. An active member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and Actor’s Equity Association, she is frequently called on to serve as an adjudicator for local, regional and national singing competitions, and has been a presenter multiple times for the Florida Theatre Conference and the Southeastern Theatre Conference.

Smith’s students have won and placed in NATS Student Audition competitions at the local, regional and national levels, and are actively performing in companies around the US. When transferring to 4-year institutions to complete their BFA degrees in Musical Theatre, they are consistently well received, and frequent recipients of significant scholarships. Smith uses her training and licenses as a professional life coach (ASPLC); Certified One-To-One HeartMath Provider, and HeartMath Trainer to educate her students on the profound (and often unrecognized) detrimental effects of neuropsychophysiological incoherence that prevent artists from achieving their desired goals. She promotes the use of conscious, purposeful thought and energy to produce transformative results in her students.



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