Elizabeth Schlieger
VAC State Chair

As I take on my new role as the Visual Arts Classic Chair, there is little time to rest and reflect as we are already in full planning mode for our 2015 season, Earth, Wind, Fire and Art. However, part of being an effective leader is doing just that, taking time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the past in order to improve future endeavors and experiences. Fortunately, I come into a program that has many successes, which leaves time to work on one of the main challenges, one that exists in all of Art Education—advocacy. Specifically, I am looking at ways to help art educators who have already recognized the benefits of the Visual Arts Classic program for enriching their students’ art education, but continue to struggle with funding their efforts.

When I started the Visual Arts Classic team at the high school I work at 8 years ago, I did so in an unpaid position. Fortunately, our school has a process in place to start a new team or organization, which includes steps to becoming a paid advisor. This, along with an administrator that supported my belief in this program, lead to a paid position as an advisor, just like other curriculum enriching teams like Science Olympiad, Math Team, FCCLA, Forensics and FFA. I mention this process because as a whole I am shocked by the large percentage of VAC advisors who remain unpaid and work with a minimal budget. Advocating for your program and yourself is not always easy, but it is essential. Know what the process is for developing paid extra-curricular positions in your district and engage in the process. Being paid is not the only way to legitimize a program, but I strongly believe that this is part of the path to a successful program. I would also encourage coaches to start having discussions with their administrators about developing a budget for supplies that exists outside of their classroom art budget.

As coaches engage in this process, it is important to be able to support how Visual Arts Classic involvement provides an academic enriching experience for students that is unique to the program. As I am currently delving into the new National Core Arts Standards and their focus on creating, presenting, responding and connecting I find myself thinking about ways VAC fits into these areas and how it is pushing students toward that upper level of high school advancement. Specifically, I look at the days of VAC competition where students are immersed in a collaborative environment of creation, evaluation, discussion and presentation. One of my goals for my first year as VAC State Chair is to develop materials to help teachers and coaches advocate for this program and its funding because of the valuable art enriching experience it provides to students. 

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