About The FST School Scholarship Funds
Sam Mossler Scholarship Fund
Established in memory of Actor, Playwright, and Teaching Artist Sam Mossler, the Sam Mossler Scholarship Fund offers students in need the opportunity to learn, grow, and be inspired at the Florida Studio Theatre School – the same program where Sam, himself discovered an artistic home, both in his youth and later as a Teaching Artist.
Samuel Arnold Mossler (1975 –2020) grew up through the FST School where he first developed a love of theatre. As a young student, Sam was a founding member of FST’s original Kids Komedy Club and one of FST’s first-ever Young Playwrights Festival winners. In adulthood, following formal training and professional work, Sam returned to his artistic home – to FST – in 2016, this time, as a Teaching Artist. Later, he took to FST’s stages performing several roles in both FST’s Mainstage and Stage III Seasons to audience and critical acclaim. In 2020, Sam became a member of the FST Playwrights Project and was commissioned to write brand new plays for young audiences. On October 21, 2020, Sam passed away prematurely. Sam touched the lives of so many here at FST through his art on stage, in the classroom, as a playwright, and as a loyal friend of the FST Company. Through this Scholarship fund, Sam continues to touch lives and inspire the next generation of artists through his favorite artistic medium.
“FST is that community. They stick to their values, which haven’t changed since I was a little boy…FST serves the greater community — and not in an obvious way. The shows are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much that people don’t see. FST reaches out to schools and they educate the next generation, which is how I got started. There’s also a circle of trust and friendship. … We all get by with a little help from our friends. That’s what brought me back."
- Sam Mossler; The Observer February 2020
Dana Helfrich Scholarship Fund
Established in memory of the late Dana Helfrich; the Dana Helfrich Scholarship Fund offers under-privileged youth the opportunity to participate in FST Educational Programs that Dana, himself, so cherished.
Dana Helfrich; a former Florida Studio Theatre Acting Intern found a home at FST where he could learn and grow as an artist and as a person. Over the next 15 years, Dana became a tremendous influence on the lives of hundreds of children and their families as a member of the Florida Studio Theatre Company. On September 23, 1999, Dana passed away after a year-long battle with cancer. His passing saddened everyone who knew him, including those who worked and grew with him at FST over the years.
"I believe that every child deserves the opportunity to grow, and learn, imagine, play and express themselves creatively in a place where they are accepted for who they are right now…
Life is all about love. Love of what you do. Love of those around you. Love of who you are."
Two J's Scholarship Fund
Established in 2011, The Two J’s Scholarship Fund provides theatre arts education programs for children of the FST Theatre School ages 4-17. This scholarship is named in honor of two great men who influenced and gave wholeheartedly to FST: John Jacobsen and John Sandefur.
John Sandefur and his wife Tana were generous supporters of FST and the FST Theatre School for many cherished years. John "retired" at 50 and moved to Sarasota where he became president of four condominium associations, was a member of Mobility Now and the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation Board, and was a trustee at the John & Mabel Ringling Museum. He was honored by the AFP as the Outstanding Philanthropist of 2008. He received the Schoenbaum Award from the Salvation Army and was recognized by Circus Sarasota for his lifetime love of the circus and his ongoing support. John Sandefur died on September 17th, 2009 and in his spirit the Two J’s Scholarship Fund was put in place.
John Jacobsen, former FST Associate Producer and staff member. John first came to FST as the Dentist in Little Shop of Horrors and appeared in many productions in the following years. Throughout his tenure as FST’s Chief Development Officer, John was also an active member in the Cultural Executives Committee and the Professional Alliance of the Performing Arts. He had also been supportive of many other charities, including Big Brother/Big Sisters and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America. John passed on April 3, 2017, an aggressively generous person who supported local artists, and during his years at FST, John Jacobsen formed a bond with many individuals including the endearing Mr. Sandefur.