WAEA Awards Chair
WAEA advocacy and leadership can take many forms. A selfless way to advocate and lead is to nominate a WAEA member or community arts activist for recognition. The presentation of awards at our annual WAEA convention highlights our important mission of supporting and furthering arts education and educators.
The nomination process itself can be rewarding. A nomination highlights the work of a fellow co-worker and/or community member. A nomination also communicates to administrators and community members the importance and professionalism of our work. Awards recipients receive well deserved recognition, and their curriculum vitae serve as a professional development roadmap for fellow and preservice teachers. If these reasons were not enough to consider nominating from your visual arts community, perhaps knowing that you will be invited to attend our WAEA awards ceremony alongside your award recipient will seal the deal.
A successful timeline for this process would indicate choosing a nominee by November, and completing all paperwork by February. See our website for nomination materials.
Below are brief descriptions for each award available:
Wisconsin Art Educator of the Year
Awarded to a WAEA member who has significantly demonstrated a long-term contribution to the WAEA and art education on the local, state and/or national levels.
Outstanding Art Educator - Division Awards
Awarded to a WAEA member from each division who has significantly contributed to the individual's division in art education (elementary, middle, secondary, higher education, supervision/administration, private education, retired and museum education) on the local, state and/or national levels.
Outstanding Art Education Student Award
Awarded to a student currently enrolled in an art education program in any Wisconsin higher education institution. He/she must be a junior or senior with a minimum G.P.A. of 3.0. The student must demonstrate leadership and commitment to the art education field.
Outstanding Beginning Art Teacher Award
Awarded to a teacher in his/her first five years of teaching. He/she must show evidence of supporting state and national art education initiatives, demonstrate effectiveness in the classroom and in the school community, and show leadership and commitment to the art education field.
James A. Schwalbach Award
Awarded to an institution or school district that has made an outstanding contribution to art education.
Distinguished Service Award**
Awarded to an individual outside the profession for outstanding achievement and contributions to art education on the local, state and/or national levels. ** Nominee does not need to be a WAEA member to receive this award.
Concerned Citizen for the Arts** Awarded to an individual (not an educator) from industry, business, politics or private life who has made an outstanding contribution to the arts. ** Nominee does not need to be a WAEA member to receive this award.
MIAD Creative Educator's Award Recognizes a WAEA member/active teacher for exceptional creativity in either implementing or advocating the use of art, design, and technology in the art room, computer lab, 3-D lab (shop) and across the curriculum. (Contact MIAD, attention: Melissa Richards; firstname.lastname@example.org)
WAEA Huntziker Grants Awarded to WAEA members for the support of projects that promote the practice of art education in Wisconsin. Art education includes, but is not limited to, the instructional process; curriculum development and delivery; student assessment; classroom environment, behavior management, or discipline; advocacy, or other practices relating to instructional interaction and achievement of student learning.
Potawatomi Grants Go to the following link for information about this opportunity which can be applied for up to 3 times per year: http://www.wiarted.org/grants.html
I don't think the term "advocacy" was ever mentioned in my art education classes at Winona State University in the 1970s, but it has been a daily part of my 30+ years of teaching. Being an advocate for the visual arts starts the day you accept your first job and probably even before that—at your first job interview. In many schools and communities, the art teacher is the window to the visual arts, an area in which many people, including principals, superintendents and school board members, feel inadequate if not out-right terrified!
As an art educator, you are exposing students, teachers, principals, community members and community leaders to the rich potential of art making and its value in an educational setting. It may seem obvious to us, but the value of making, of creating, may not be part of the mind-set of the other people in the K-12 academic world. It quickly becomes apparent that the only person on staff who will fight for the presence of the visual arts in your school is...YOU!
To make art visible and accessible to all students becomes your mission. To communicate the value of art education to the greater community becomes your job! To succeed, you must be passionate, aware and understand the need to communicate that passion and awareness in every move you make every day. The way you dress, the way you interact with staff members, the committees you are on, the displays you create, the environment in your classroom—all are communicating the importance of art making and individual creativity to the rest of the school community.
At the beginning of my career, I never imagined that it would be "advocacy" that would become my life's work, but that is what happened. Being in the classroom with a bunch of middle schoolers, that was the easy part! Ok, maybe not easy, but easier. Convincing a principal that we needed more time for art classes and that every student needed art classes, that was the hardest part. Advocating for the place of visual art and design curriculum became a daily endeavor. My university training did not prepare me to take on that challenge, but reading and attending conferences helped. I really have to credit my membership in WAEA and NAEA for giving me the ammunition I needed to fight the fight to keep art and design as well as creative problem solving in the school curriculum.
What roles do museums play in art education advocacy? How is the development of leadership within museums relevant to the art education field as a whole? I have been grappling with these questions on and off since entering the field. As education program coordinator at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, I often wonder where museum educators fit. While attending the National Art Education Association’s (NAEA) convention in the spring of 2014, I had an epiphany of sorts. I have always defined myself as an educator. My classroom just happens to be a museum and my students range from ages 3 to 93 (sometimes younger and sometimes older)! Along those same lines, I have, for a long time, defined myself as a museum educator. I just was not quite sure where the word art fit in. While in San Diego at the convention, surrounded by colleagues from schools and museums from all over the world, I finally began to identify myself as an art museum educator.
With my newfound discovery, I have begun to seek out tools that I can use to be an advocate for art education inside and outside of the classroom. The NAEA recommends brushing up on your advocacy skills by:
· Communicating a clear message
· Being visible to decision makers
· Harnessing your advocacy network
In the non-profit world we are taught to internalize the mission, vision and values of our organization and to always ask ourselves, does this support the mission that we have set? I have the mission of the Arts Center printed and framed on my desk and I use it to guide my interactions within the organization and community. To help myself in advocating for the arts, I am currently pulling information from our national organization to come up with a personal “mission” of sorts to help put into words what art education advocacy means to me. While I continue to work on that, I’ll leave you with this:
Ten Lessons The Arts Teach
1. The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships.
Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it
is judgment rather than rules that prevail.
2. The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution
and that questions can have more than one answer.
3. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives.
One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.
4. The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving
purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity. Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.
5. The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.
6. The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects.
The arts traffic in subtleties.
7. The arts teach students to think through and within a material.
All art forms employ some means through which images become real.
8. The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said.
When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.
9. The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source
and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.
10. The arts' position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young
what adults believe is important.
SOURCE: Eisner, E. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind, In Chapter 4, What the Arts Teach and How It Shows. (pp. 70-92). Yale University Press. Available from NAEA Publications. NAEA grants reprint permission for this excerpt from Ten Lessons with proper acknowledgment of its source and NAEA.
Want to learn more? http://www.arteducators.org/advocacy
Have you ever done a Google search for “How to Advocate for the Arts?” It’s a little disappointing, to say the least. There are plenty of websites and articles that discuss why we should advocate for the arts, why the arts are important in our schools, statistics of children who score better on tests because of the arts, and on and on. Some of the articles are written by teachers, principals, nonprofit groups, and even brain scientists. All of these articles and websites tell us why we should advocate for the arts, but not how.
If you ask around, the majority of people will tell you they support the arts in schools. Plenty of people can even tell you why the arts are important in our schools. So I guess this means we have all done a great job at hanging our poster, “Top Ten Reasons the Arts are Important in our School.” However, the posters, articles, lists, and YouTube videos are just noise. It isn’t enough to regurgitate the information that has been created and produced by others. We need to take some serious action and commit to truly advocating for the arts.
The bottom line is that when a school district is dealing with budget cuts; the fine arts are a non-core subject and, therefore, get eliminated first. In other situations, the arts are pushed to the side in order to allow for more time on the core subjects. Many classroom teachers are now responsible for teaching the arts to their classes. This alone proves where the arts are listed in the priority of learning.
How about on parent teacher conference nights? The hallways are buzzing with parents and children rotating room to room. How many of them come into the art room? Or come into the music room? Do parents of our students truly see the value in the arts when it comes to learning? What about the SAT? Surely our colleges and universities want students with differentiated perspectives. The PPST? We definitely want our teachers to have good judgment and creative problem solving skills. Yet neither of these exams offers questions about the arts.
I read an article called, “The Forgotten Core Discipline” that summed it up perfectly, “To meet the needs of students in the 21st century, schools must upgrade the position of the arts and give students the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in college, in career, and in life.” How? How do we upgrade the position of arts in our schools? How do we truly get people to believe that the arts are invaluable in our schools? To start, we need to slowly chip away at the idea that the arts are an elective and not a necessity. We need to show value in our actions, and not just by hanging posters on our walls. We need to change our image.
Let’s start with our title. Many art teachers are referred to as “specialists.” The term “special” according to Merriam-Webster means “different from what is normal.” I don’t know about you, but I consider myself pretty normal. Yes, I specialize in teaching art, but the science teacher down the hall specializes in teaching science. How does that make me a “specialist” and the science teacher not a “specialist?” If we want the fine arts to be considered necessary and relevant we need to be referred to as what we are… teachers. Do your best to change that reference in your district.
Another important change we need to make are the conversations we have with parents. Many of us use the parent teacher conference night as a time to get work done. Instead, make some noise! Open your door, play some music, stand in the hall and motion the parents into your room if you have to. Have a conversation about the lessons you are teaching that are developing their children’s minds. Discuss how you are preparing their children for post secondary readiness by teaching them how to ask questions and make good judgments. Explain the new concepts their children are learning through creation and critique. Better yet, send a letter home with your students before conferences explaining the 21st century skills the children are learning and ask for parents to stop in or make an appointment for further discussion. Show your parents how relevant the fine arts programs are by providing examples of their children’s successes.
According to the late Elliott W. Eisner, Professor of Education at Stanford,
The problems of life are much more like the problems encountered in the arts. They are problems that seldom have a single correct solution; they are problems that are often subtle, occasionally ambiguous, and sometimes dilemma-like. One would think that schools that wanted to prepare students for life would employ tasks and problems similar to those found outside of schools. This is hardly the case. Life outside of school is seldom like school assignments—and hardly ever like a multiple-choice test.
If we truly want to advocate for the arts then we need to start by changing our behavior and our own conversations. You are a teacher just like all the other teachers in your district. Your behavior and conversations need to reflect that. Do not act as though you are special, different, or an exception to the rule. You are teaching skills that are critical to our children’s future and there is nothing “elective” about that.
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