Every artist goes through some time where they lose their motivation and inspiration to create. For me, it was my focus on my professional goals that caused my creativity to dwindle. This year I’ve taken some time for myself and in turn, it has sparked my desire to paint again. Watercolor is my preferred medium of choice. As most artists do, I struggled with finding inspiration or a theme for my artwork. This year I’ve spent more time out and in the water than I have in a long time. This has provided me with the spark of inspiration I was craving.
Monday, October 16th is Planning Day for Duval County Public Schools. It is one of the few days when all the Elementary Art Teachers in our district are able to come together for the day to receive content specific professional development. There are approximately 110 Elementary Art Teachers in our district. There are multiple professional development opportunities throughout the year, but very few that are art specific. This is mostly because there is only one or two art teachers at our elementary schools. School based administration is focussed on other content areas and in some situations, may not know enough about art to offer effective professional development opportunities for art teachers. So the art teacher is often forced to attend workshops and other training throughout the year that may not directly relate to what they do every day.
Here are my Top Five Reasons Teachers Need Content Specific Professional Development.
- Visual Art Teachers need an opportunity to collaborate: Since art teachers are often the only art teacher on campus, they need an opportunity to collaborate with other teachers of the same discipline. Collaboration is the key to growing as a professional.
- Best Practices: Content area specific professional development opportunities give teachers an opportunity to share and learn best practices from other art educators.
- Support System: Locally, a lot of our universities have cut the art education program. More and more Art Teachers are being hired without the experience an internship would provide them. They missed the best opportunity to grow as an educator. This is where content area specific workshops are invaluable. They give new teachers an opportunity to learn from other teachers and ask questions. There is also an opportunity to find and meet with an art mentor.
- Advocacy: As Art Educators, we have to advocate for the arts everyday. We naturally know the value of the arts in the education of the whole child, but we don’t always know how to share this knowledge with the common educator. We also have to advocate for our professional development opportunities. An art educator should prioritize their schedule to attend as many PD opportunities as possible. If art teachers do not attend workshops, it shows school based administration that they are not valuable to the art educator.
- The Development of Future Leaders: Nothing develops a future leader more that presenting to your peers. This is what helped me decide to become an arts leader. Many years ago, I was asked to run a planning day event for my predecessor. That experience gave me the opportunity to see what it was like to lead workshops and guide teachers in their pursuit of mastering their craft. Opportunities to lead in the arts aren’t always readily available. I look for opportunities to help teachers develop their leadership skills by asking them to present at various workshops throughout the year. This gives them the opportunity to become teacher leaders and also allows teachers to experience other workshops lead by teachers other than myself.
This year is the beginning of my third year as Elementary Visual Art Specialist for Duval County. One thing I’ve learned from my first two years is that things are always evolving in our county. I can say that I’m equally excited about this year as I was during my first year.
We began the school year like we always do, with a big meeting during preplanning week at LaVilla School or the Arts. It’s the only time during the year when we get every art teacher in the county together in one place. The only thing that compares to it are Art Education Conferences. Hope McMath was the keynote speaker and delivered an inspiring message to the Art Teachers of Duval County. She talked about relevance, inclusion and representation, creativity, celebrate and giving voice to lived experiences, fears, and collective aspirations. Every teacher left feeling motivated and inspired to make this the best year ever for their schools, students, selves and community.
I am motivated and inspired to provide the support and resources to the Art Teachers of Duval County this year to make our district the best Arts District in the State of Florida. This will be the best year for the arts. #ArtsAddUp
Saturday was a lot of fun, we had an opportunity to have a student art show at Florida Blue. Twenty students were chosen to participate in this great opportunity. Here are some of the pictures from the event. There is nothing more gratifying then seeing the pride students and parents have when seeing their artwork on display. .
I am happy to say that I recently started a new job and I am back in the Arts! I am now working as Elementary Visual Art Specialist with Duval County Public Schools. I began on July 1st and I’m loving my job.
One of my main duties is to oversee the elementary art programs and supply professional development opportunities for teachers. My main goal is to help every teacher become the best art instructor possible.
I am looking forward to this school year. I will post photos and commentary and I progress through my first year as Visual Art Specialist.
Visual Art Educators Volunteer Time to Raise Money to Support Local Students
The Northeast Florida Art Education Association (NeFAEA) will host its annual fundraising event, Flamingos on the River, on Saturday, May 16, at Jacksonville University’s River House. Proceeds from the event and donations throughout the year directly support the regional chapter of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, a national contest that has hosted previous winners such as Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath and John Lithgow.
Visual Art teachers from across Northeast Florida come together to spend their very scarce hours away from the classroom ensuring students have opportunities to participate in exhibitions, compete for college scholarships and perhaps be included in the winner’s circle in New York City each year. According to Gerie Leigh, a retired DCPS educator and NeFAEA board member, “over the past four years, this group has not only revived the local chapter of Scholastics, but also encouraged more than 1,500 students to enter over 3,800 works of art; seen 35 local students win national recognition and awards, and offered more than $1.5 million in college scholarships.”*
This particular event is the largest source of income for the group’s year-round work to support its students and fellow educators. The highlight of the evening will be a silent and live art auction featuring major artists and art educators such as Tony Wood, Mac Truque, Ginger Sheridan and Jason John, who have all generously donated their work to support the next generation of artists. The event will also feature a Jacksonville musical favorite, Tropic of Cancer, who, in their words, specializes in a mix of “jazzy jams, worldly beats and saucy rhythms.”
The $25 price of admission includes entry to the event, plus a complimentary drink ticket, hors d’oeuvres and desserts.
Flamingos on the River – An Art Auction for the Visual Arts of Northeast Florida
Saturday, May 16, 2015 | 6-8 p.m.
The River House at Jacksonville University
2800 University Boulevard North, Jacksonville, FL 32211
*value based on scholarships offered not those acted upon
Anthony Sznakowski, NeFAEA President