Van Wezel Foundation Honors Maria Schaedler-Luera with Appleton Arts Integration Award

Weaver & Appleton

SARASOTA, February 22, 2022 – The Van Wezel Foundation (Foundation) announced Maria Schardler-Luera as the winner of the Appleton Arts Integration Award at its 20th annual Inspiration Gala on Thursday, January 27, 2022. The Appleton Arts Integration Award, given annually, honors a local teacher or educator who best incorporated arts integration techniques in their approach to better the community.

“The Foundation’s Appleton Arts Integration Award selection committee felt strongly that this year’s recipient, Maria Schaedler-Luera, was an outstanding choice as she exemplified the values of the Foundation’s mission and deep commitment to the power of the arts to promote mental and emotional well-being for our community,” said Foundation CEO Cheryl Mendelson.

“It is an absolute honor to receive this prestigious recognition. The Van Wezel Foundation has allowed me to be a part of a movement I truly care about. I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to contribute what I know and impact the lives of students of all ages. Thank you for inspiring me to keep working hard and adding value to our community,” said Schaedler-Luera.

Schaedler-Luera is a Brazilian-born educator and artist with extensive work experience and knowledge in theater, music, arts and literacy, and cross-cultural engagement. In the past year, she has facilitated and piloted drama, mental health, mindfulness and professional development workshops and programs throughout the community. Schaedler-Luera also had the opportunity to present her culturally relevant work at the John F. Kennedy Center conference.

The Appleton Arts Integration Award is made possible by a legacy gift from Louise Appleton, a local philanthropist who had a passion for arts and its connection to education.

In addition to announcing the 2022 recipient of the Appleton Arts Integration Award, the Foundation also named Jillianne Abbott and Talia Casey as recipients of the Van Wezel Foundation Merit Scholarships. The scholarships support meaningful, high-quality arts integration across the region. The recipients, Abbot and Casey, will receive a scholarship to attend an approved national conference in arts integration or a local or virtual conference, respectively.

The annual scholarship is available to educators to enhance their work in their classroom and are made possible by Appleton’s legacy gift.


The Van Wezel Foundation’s mission is to create and sustain a vibrant performing arts center, advance education, and enrich communities by inspiring minds through the power of the arts. The Foundation has partnered with the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall since 1987 to support arts education throughout our region, serving more than 50,000 students and their families annually with enriching arts-based education opportunities and professional development for more than 400 teachers across five counties. The Van Wezel Foundation is leading the vision to build a new Sarasota Performing Arts Center as a public-private partnership with the city, and in collaboration with the Bay Park Conservancy and Van Wezel Hall. To learn more about the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center and get involved, visit For more information on the Foundation and its mission, visit, or join us on Facebook and Instagram.


A true pioneer in the cultural development of Sarasota, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall presents spectacular Broadway musicals, top national and international performers, popular comedians, and a compelling mix of classical and dance productions. Owned and operated by the City of Sarasota, the Van Wezel celebrated its 50th Anniversary during the 2019-2020 season. The theater’s Education and Community Engagement Department serves over 50,000 students, teachers, and family members each year, teaching them in, through and about the arts. In conjunction with the Van Wezel Foundation, the Van Wezel’s Education and Community Engagement Department has launched numerous virtual initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including virtual Schooltime Performances, Zoom-based workshops with teaching artists, and Artworks Anywhere, a series of free arts education videos available on-demand to students, families, and educators. To learn more, visit

# # #

Share this post with your friends