ARTeacher Fellows Complete Second Year

ARTeacher Fellows pose at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
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ARTeacher Fellows pose at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

The ARTeacher Fellowship Program, an innovative teaching project established by the Center for Children and Youth in the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas, recently completed its second year of operation.

Each year, the program selects 10 area secondary teachers to take part in a yearlong professional development series focused on bringing the visual and performing arts into the classroom. The ARTeacher Fellows receive training from nationally recognized arts-integration professionals, financial support for classroom field trips and ongoing collaboration and support from program members. The selected teachers serve a wide demographic range, including English as a second language, Advanced Placement and special-needs students. Fellows who successfully complete their first year are invited to return for a second and third year, where they serve as teacher-mentors while continuing to hone their skills in arts integration. All teachers receive professional development credit for their participation.

Chris Goering, director of the Center for Children and Youth and an associate professor of English education, praised the new and returning teachers who participated in the second year of the program.

“I am in awe of the creativity, professionalism and drive of our Fellows, simply some of the best teachers anywhere in this country in my view,” Goering said. “When these bright and committed teachers gather around arts-infused thinking, tools and strategies that have been demonstrated to help students, the resulting conversations and actions are inspiring.”

Joshua Vest, an English teacher at Bentonville High School and returning ARTeacher Fellow, echoed Goering’s sentiments.

“This is easily one of the most useful and effective professional developments I’ve done,” Vest said. “It’s really expanded my repertoire and has helped me to deepen my students’ learning and increase their engagement.”

The unique program is a partnership between with the Walton Arts Center and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Laura Goodwin, vice president of learning and engagement, and Patricia Relph, arts learning specialist, both with the Walton Arts Center, and Zev Slurzberg, school and community programs manager with Crystal Bridges, played key roles in the planning and implementation of the project.

“This is such a dynamic group of teachers to work with,” Slurzberg said. “After each session, I am wowed by the creative ways the Fellows are using the visual and performing arts to teach their students.”

Teachers met for three days in the summer and five days during the school year. Each meeting provided an opportunity to learn new arts-integration strategies as well as discuss experiences and ideas with each other. Fellows created units and projects for their classrooms that incorporated the arts with the subject material. Examples of projects developed by the ARTeachers include building Alexander Calder-inspired mobiles to represent physics concepts and using photography to interpret the writing of George Orwell and T.S. Eliot.

Having new and returning Fellows working together provided a valuable dynamic to the program in its second year.

“I regarded all of the year-two Fellows as mentors to me,” said Nathan Windel, a first-year Fellow from Deer High School. “Next year, I would love an opportunity to pass that type of experience on to the next group.”

The fellows and their schools:

Layne Bass, Springdale High School

Katy Buehrer, Hackett High School

Brandon Flammang, Archer Learning Center, Springdale

Suki Highers, Fayetteville High School

Holly Howard, Bentonville High School

Michael Jacobs, Fayetteville High School

Wayne Levering, Heritage High School, Rogers

Katy Moore, English, Har-Ber High School, Springdale

John O’Berski, Lincoln High School

Jennifer Ombres, Fayetteville High School

Jennifer Richard, Heritage High School, Rogers

Sabine Schmidt, Haas Hall Academy, Fayetteville

James Stallings, Lakeside Junior High School, Springdale

Nathan Strayhorn, Fayetteville High School

Brittany Timpe, Bentonville High School

Joshua Vest, Bentonville High School

Kenya Windel, Deer High School

Nathan Windel, Deer High School

Hung Pham, program specialist for the Center for Children and Youth, has helped coordinate the ARTeacher Fellowship since its inception and has seen the program grow and develop.

“I’ve had the chance to visit many of the Fellows in their classrooms, watching them in action, and came away thinking, ‘I’d want to take this class!’” Pham said. “It’s exciting to see their students think critically, communicate expressively and make meaning through music, photography and other mediums.”

Besides ongoing training and mentorship, the ARTeacher Fellowship program provides participants with professional and scholarly opportunities. Last November, three Fellows were selected to present at the National Council of Teachers of English’s Conference on English Education in Boston. Fellows have also led workshops for the Arkansas Teacher Corps program based in the College of Education and Health Professions. Next spring, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has invited the ARTeacher Fellowship to give a presentation in Washington on high school-level arts integration.

For the 2014-15 school year, the ARTeacher Fellowship will welcome its third cohort of teachers. While the program thus far has been a notable success, the coordinators recognize it will continue to evolve.

“We still consider this to be a pilot program,” Goering said. “We’ve kept the scope of the project pretty small in terms of grades, subjects and locales. In time, we would like to expand to reach a wider audience and meet needs across the state. We’ve had tremendous support from schools and principals, and we want to continue to show them the value of this work.”

“The arts are a natural and powerful tool, with applications to every subject area,” Pham added. “The act of making art, of creating, opens so many possibilities for teachers and students. Based on the feedback we’ve received, there is definitely a hunger for this type of professional development that challenges teachers to stretch themselves creatively while offering extended training, resources and support.”

The Center for Children and Youth was founded by the UA College of Education and Health Professions in 2006 with an emphasis on helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds, stimulating creative learning through the arts and developing pro-social behavior in children. For more information on the ARTeacher Fellowship and other initiatives, contact Pham at literacy@uark.edu.

Contacts

Heidi Wells, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-3138, heidisw@uark.edu

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