Building Community and Making Connections in Denver

The 2018 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention was as stimulating as ever! Over the years I have attended several Americans for the Arts conferences and I am always impressed by the number and variety of attendees who gather to discuss the impact of the arts in our communities. More than 1,000 people traveled to the beautiful city of Denver to discuss the trends of equity and inclusion across all sectors, how the arts unite cities, advocacy and grantmaking, as well as the role of the arts in aging and coping with trauma. The list of topics covered seems almost endless! As an arts educator, I was interested in learning about the growing field of Creative Youth Development (CYD). The highpoint for me was hearing from the young people who attended the preconference sessions.

Arts Teachers Crave High Quality Professional Development

For the past year I have been traveling around the state of Ohio providing arts assessment professional development sessions to arts teachers, as a part of the Ohio Arts Assessment Collaborative. What we have discovered is that teachers, whether in large urban districts or small rural districts, all crave the same thing: They want to learn new skills to take back to their classrooms and to be able to connect with like-minded colleagues. They are typically enthusiastic to have a workshop in their content area with materials that they can apply immediately. They want to soak up as much knowledge as they can.

The Time for Action is NOW

When the Arts Education Advisory Council met in Washington, one week before Inauguration Day, there was a feeling of uncertainty in the air. In our meetings we speculated on how this new presidency might impact the world of arts and education. The threat to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts hadn’t been voiced yet. The furor over Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary was just beginning. There was a sense of urgency in our conversation this year. What should we be doing in our communities to help be pro-active? At the end of our three days together, we were committed to advocacy work as never before.

And the Award Goes To...

We all know those hard working teachers who get up extra early and are in their classrooms long before students have arrived, preparing for the day’s lessons. These are the same teachers who spend their own money on extra supplies for their students. They stay after school advising various clubs to provide students more experiences in the arts. They go the extra mile to take their students on field trips to hear the local orchestra, or attend the art museum in their community. These are the amazing educators who love and care about the welfare of their students. How do we honor these individuals? I suggest an Awards Alternative.

Where Would I Be Without My Mentor?

As I reflect on my nearly twenty years spent in the arts integration field, I feel blessed to have had a trio of amazing mentors in my life. Without these three women I certainly would not have had the career I have had. As a first year music teacher in Buffalo, NY, without a mentor, I wished that arts organizations could do more to assist schoolteachers in preparing students for field trips, and to help provide deeper experiences for the students. I dabbled in creating an independent study in arts administration to start to understand what the role of arts organizations could be in arts education.

The Hills (and Country) are Alive with Arts Education!

I returned home from the Americans for the Arts 2015 Annual Convention in June with information and ideas swimming in my head, and hope rising in my heart for the optimistic future of arts education. There are numerous areas of the country where great things are happening to provide access to quality arts education for all children in a district, city, or county, depending on the location and size of the program.

The Role of the Arts Specialist

Public schools are full of turmoil these days. Debate over the shift to the Common Core Standards that has taken place over the last few years is causing tension. Teachers are working overtime to figure out the new standardized tests that have been created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) to assess the new standards. People are concerned about the amount of standardized testing occurring in our schools throughout the year. Most recently, parents in some communities are taking action and pulling their children from taking the standardized tests.

Subscribe to RSS - Ms. Lauren S. Hess's blog