The Arts Make Us Strong

Written by Jody Stokes-Casey

This week the Memphis public art organization UrbanArt Commission (UAC) faced serious budget threats and potential closure from city council. While the decision is put on temporary hold, UAC’s position near the legislation/funding chopping block is alarming. It reminds us of a very real threat not only to public funded art, but also to arts education across our nation, state, and schools.


Art teachers are in a precarious position of simultaneously having to be great at our jobs – teaching art – and strong advocates for our subjects and ourselves.  As we enjoy our much needed summer vacation and begin planning for the next school year, let’s consider how we are incorporating advocacy into our practice.


TAEA is working diligently by dividing the board into sub-committees to develop position statements and seek partnerships to advocate for our members and all art teachers in Tennessee.  Our current and ongoing advocacy initiatives encourage teachers to consider participating in TAEA regional and state conferences to advocate for professional development for fine arts teachers, submitting artwork to the annual TAEA Member Art Exhibition, participating in the Sargent Art Youth Art Month Flag competition, and nominating colleagues for TAEA awards.


Americans for the Arts provides a plethora of art education advocacy tools for teachers to peruse for ideas. The Art of Ed has also compiled advocacy resources. I recently downloaded this coloring sheet to use as an advocacy activity at my school’s fine arts night.


Several members of TAEA are major advocates for art education. Check out Jackie Spaulding Wright’s “Step Up, Speak Out for Art Education” project. Cassie Stephens and Ted Edinger are two of several excellent Tennessee art educators who use social media and blogging to advocate for the arts.


Do you have an advocacy project or tool to share? Consider submitting a proposal to present a Super Session at the October 2017 TAEA State Conference in Memphis. Download the proposal form here.


















The ArtEffect - Art and Social Justice

Each year, I look for new social justice projects that will get my students excited about making a difference through art.  I want them to know that art can influence, speak, and move people to become better for themselves and better for each other.  For the last two years, my students have participated in an unsung heroes art project/competition that has impacted how they see the world and moved them to believing that one person can truly make a difference. This year, I am ecstatic to announce that one of my students, Molly Cahill, received the grand prize of $7,500 for her artwork celebrating unsung hero Mitsuye Endo!

This all started with my good friend and former Tennessee art educator, Brad LeDuc, who now teaches in Topeka, Kansas, when he shared with me The ArtEffect, a project/competition he initiated through the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes. In this project, students can choose to celebrate an already discovered Unsung Hero throughout history or discover one of their own.  They spend a significant amount of time researching and immersing themselves in the chosen Unsung Hero’s story.  The invaluable information that they discover on their own inspires them to create an interpretation that celebrates the extraordinary life of the Unsung Hero.  Their artworks are supported with an artist statement where the students verbalize their process, thinking, and vision behind the artwork; a true cross-disciplinary experience! 

Part of the Lowell Milken Center arts initiative is to teach students the power they hold to creative positive change in the world.  It has truly brought excitement about learning and a sense of community and humanity into my classroom.  A free 10 step lesson plan can be downloaded to guide your instruction every step of the way.  I highly recommend participating in this experience!

The Lowell Milken Center graciously awards cash prizes totaling $13,500 to winners in this competition.  It is open to U.S. and international students in grades 6-12 and is free to enter.  Details can be found at

I’d love to see or hear about your results from this project!  Feel free to contact me at

Tennessee Art Education Association Annual Awards

You’ve completed all of your end-of-the-year tasks and you’re ready to start your summer break, but there’s one more thing to do . . . .  Nominate a fellow art teacher for an award!

Do you know an outstanding art teacher who is making a difference in their school and in their students’ lives?  I bet you know a few of them.

Each year, the Tennessee Art Education Association has the great pleasure of recognizing outstanding art educators from across the state, in a variety of categories.  These amazing teachers exemplify the qualities and standards of what it means to be a great art educator, going above-and-beyond for their students. 

However, to receive one of these well-deserved awards, they must be nominated, and that’s where you come in!  These outstanding teachers need YOU to nominate them so that TAEA can give them the recognition that they deserve. 

Please consider nominating one or more of your peers, mentors, or mentees by sending in your nominations by July 10, 2017 to TAEA Awards Chair – Kathy Dumlao,

To nominate a great art educator for an award, please submit:

1)         A nomination letter, explaining why this person is a good candidate for an award.  Please keep in mind that this letter and the accompanying nomination form are what we use to write a description of your nominee.  So please be sure to include as much detail as possible so that the write-up can properly reflect how terrific your nominee is!

2)        The NAEA Nomination Form and Vita for the nominee.*

To download the Nomination form and Vita form, please visit

The Vita form is where you list all the amazing things that this teacher has done.

You can ask your nominee to send you their resume, or you can ask them to fill out this

part on their own.

3)        A digital photo of the nominee

A high-resolution  jpeg is preferred because if your nominee wins, we’ll use this photo in the

awards program booklet.


*Nominees must be a member of TAEA.


Categories for nomination are:

Tennessee Art Educator of the Year

West Region Art Educator of the Year

Middle Region Art Educator of the Year

East Region Art Educator of the Year

Elementary Art Educator of the Year

Middle Level Art Educator of the Year

Secondary Art Educator of the Year

Higher Education Art Educator of the Year

Supervision Art Educator of the Year

Administration Art Educator of the Year

Museum Art Educator of the Year

Special Needs Art Educator of the Year

First Year Educator of the Year

Retired Art Educator of the Year

National Art Honor Society Sponsor of the Year

Student Chapter Sponsor of the Year

Higher Education Student Achievement Award

Distinguished Service within the Profession

Rising Stars Secondary Recognition Program

Friend of TAEA (only award available to non-members)


We Want Your Proposals

This year the Tennessee Art Education Association is requesting proposals for presentations at its annual conference from Pre-K-16 art educators, pre-service teachers, museum educators and the academic and administrative communities.  Super Sessions presentations should address one of the four areas of TAEA’s mission:  learning, community, advocacy, and research and learning, in addition to connecting directly to the conference theme, “Every Artist Tells a Story.” The conference is designed to present outstanding teaching models and provide an opportunity to learn new skills, to renew the attendee’s personal love of the arts through networking, creating works of art, and learning new teaching strategies. Presentations and hands-on workshops will focus on interdisciplinary curriculum development, innovative instructional strategies, arts assessment, arts advocacy, and arts integration. Museum and cultural institutions will be asked to present arts integrated lessons that address core academic subjects and the arts.

If you are a current member of TAEA and would like to present a 50-minute session addressing one of the above areas, now is your chance during the 2017 TAEA State Conference at Memphis College of Art in Memphis, October 26th-28th, 2017.  The Super Sessions will be held on either October the 27th or 28th.   

Submission details are on the Proposal Form. 

Education Policy: Not at all like creating art, or is it?

During the 2016-17 session, the Tennessee legislature is working through 150 separate bills concerning changes to education. To make sense of where they are in the process, it might help to envision the creation of 150 separate paintings for an exhibition. Four of the paintings are already completed, signed by the governor, and are hanging on the wall, six of them have been approved by the house and senate and are awaiting signature, about 70 of them did not pass approval, and about 60 of them are still under revision. One of the bills currently under revision will impact art educators. Let’s give it a working title of “teacher accountability”. Teacher accountability is the reason we have observations, growth measures, and achievement scores, and the state is looking to make changes to what teacher accountability looks like.


Under current law, (Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 49-1-302) the State Board of Education is assigned the responsibility of creating policy to support teacher evaluation. Therefore, teacher accountability is governed first by law and then by policy. There is a current proposal to amend the law so that it reads: (viii) By the 2018-2019 school year, in order to provide individual growth scores to teachers in non-tested grades and subjects, LEAs shall use at least one (1) appropriate alternative growth model that has been approved by the state board of education. (ix) The department of education shall work to develop valid and reliable alternative student growth models for the grade levels and subjects that do not have models as of the effective date of this act. SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it. This has already passed in the House and is waiting to be heard in the Senate.


This is one place where teacher voice is important. The Tennessee Department of Education is also invested in teacher accountability and has convened an Educator Effectiveness Advisory Committee. This committee was tasked with examining current evaluation policies and practices and making improvements within the guidelines of law and policy.  Thanks to everyone who responded to the Educator Effectiveness Survey, the TDOE has heard critiques from art educators about what we would like to see the teacher accountability “painting” look like. Based on the responses to the survey, teachers requested refining evaluation practices in three main areas: teacher ownership of the process, accurate feedback (portfolio and observations), and allowing differentiated evaluation criteria. The results from the survey were sent Tuesday to the TDOE already responded that they appreciated the feedback very much and would use it to inform their plans for the TEAM evaluator training this summer. 


While it is not certain what changes will be made, changes are coming. Let’s continue the conversation about how to design a teacher accountability model that empowers us to be more effective educators. The “teacher accountability painting” will likely be turned into signed and numbered prints that will hang in all of our classrooms. Let’s do everything we can to make sure it inspires us. 

What Motivates You?

I recently read a blog by Barbara Blackburn about teaching and motivation.  She says,  “Motivation is part of your job description.  Keeping yourself motivated is a critical part of your job. If you aren’t motivated, you will burn out and you won’t be able to positively impact your students.”


I’ll admit that during my long teaching career of more than 20 years, there have been times when I have found myself unmotivated.  Maybe that’s true for all of us as teachers at some point in our careers.  I have learned, however, that the best medicine for lack of motivation is to surround myself with inspiration. 


Recently, I attended the NAEA convention in New York, and found myself in just such an environment of inspiration.  If you ever have the chance to go to one of these conventions, I encourage you to attend!  I was inspired by hundreds of fellow art educators that were willing to share their ideas, world-famous artwork I was able to enjoy at several nearby museums, and a great collection of student designed YAM flags displayed from every state in the country! 


One of the highlights of every convention is visiting the exhibit hall, which is filled with vendors that invite teachers to experiment with all kinds of art products.  These vendors also advertise various opportunities for teachers.  One of the booths that caught my attention was promoting the National Gallery’s Summer Teacher Institute.  “Have you applied?” the gentleman asked me.  I told him I had in the past, but hadn’t been accepted.  “Try again,” he said, “you still have time.”  And for some reason, that brief interaction stuck in my head.  The minute I returned home, I started working on my application.  And just this past week, I received word that I have been accepted – one of only fifty attendees from the entire country.  What an honor!  I’m so excited, and so looking forward to surrounding myself with some more great inspiration in Washington DC this summer.   


There are so many opportunities for inspiration nearby, but sometimes, we need a little encouragement to take the initiative and grab them.  Just within our state alone, we have the TN Arts Academy, The Appalachian Center for Craft, and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, which offer great opportunities for teachers during the summer.  We also have wonderful art museums in Tennessee and the surrounding states that are well within driving distance.  See an exhibit, take a class, make some art, and/or spend time talking with other art educators!  I encourage you to use this summer to get motivated, and come back to school in August with a renewed spirit for your students.   It’s a win/win situation for everyone involved! 


Written by Angela McCarter

Movers and Shakers at the West TN Unconference

Our WTAEA Unconference at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art was a huge success with great attendance! The theme was, “Movers and Shakers,” as we looked at people in Memphis who are making a difference in our community through ART! Our keynote speaker, Jamin Carter, former Memphis area Art teacher and inner-city community service volunteer spoke about his professional journey from his work in Binghampton to his work with the Urban Arts Commission and his current seminar work with Focus 5, Arts Integration Consulting

The topic of his talk was “Taking Risks.” He inspired teachers to continue striving for excellence and that whether or not we realize it, we are making a difference and that others do see our professionalism. He said we are taking calculated risks and making a difference when we invest our time and talent in the lives of our students.

We had four hands-on sessions that all participants were able to attend on a rotating schedule. They included:

AMY MCSPADDEN,“901 ROCKS!”- Amy told the story of how an idea of painting rocks, hiding them around town and posting to a Facebook page, “901 Rocks!” has turned into a regional phenomenon with over 40,000 members and more following every day! Participants painted rocks and learned how this activity can be used in art classrooms at all levels.

SHANNON ELLIOTT & KATHY DUMLAO, “CUT FOR THE CLASSROOM”- Shannon and Kathy demonstrated how Play can be used in the classroom to promote creative thinking and problem-solving. This was an ALL PLAY version of the “CUT Competition” in which all participants created a piece of art that is concept-based from a basket of materials.

KATHERINE VERGOS RIEDERER and ANNA VERGOS BLAIR, “THE ART PROJECT” - Anna and Katherine presented how they took the idea of an open studio and made it a reality known as The Art Project in Mid Town Memphis. Participants experienced a fun sample lesson and learned how The Art Project could be a great fun alternative for extended learning.

RIVER ARTS FEST- MEMPHIS ARTIST KATEY HENRIKSEN guided participants in a book making and story-telling process that can be used in a combined art and literacy lesson. They also discovered about Rivers Arts Fest Grant Opportunities from its director, Angela Less, and how to participate in one of the premier art events in Memphis whose mission is to, “..cultivate, promote, encourage and develop public appreciation and support of the visual and performing arts for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the citizens of Memphis and the surrounding communities in the Mid-South.”

Participants received a conference bag stuffed with over $25 worth of donated art supplies. Several area businesses and national vendors donated enough door prizes for every participant to take away one! Those donors included: The Art Center of Memphis, Michael’s Supply Store, Davis Publications, Dick Blick, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and Memphis College of Art.

Advocating for Art Education-Arts Memphis provided cards for teachers to use to write to legistlators concerning the value of the arts. Participants were given time during the day to complete these.


by Melody Weintraub

Top 5 Things That Cost More Than a TAEA Membership

Did you know that your TAEA membership is equal to less than $7 a month? Still think that's too expensive? Just consider these 5 things that cost more per month than a TAEA membership:

Top 5 List of Things that cost more than $7/a month:

#5: Two grande "fancy" Starbucks drinks - A grande White Chocolate Mocha costs $4.45 each.



#4 Two Boxes of Hello Kitty Band-Aids (20 count) - $5.52 each according to Amazon. 



#3 One Movie Ticket to a matinee - as of 2015, the average movie ticket price in the U.S. was $8.70. 



#2 Two Big Mac Meals - A Big Mac Meal costs $5.99 and includes fries and soft drink.  





#1: Your Netflix subscription - $9.99/a month for a standard subscription. 



OR you could purchase a membership in both the National and Tennessee Art Education Association with ALL the benefits for both (see “join” page for a partial list of them). So, become a member today for the low, low price of $80 for a year (less than $7 a month).The price is even lower if you are a student at $40/year (less than $3.34 a month) or a First Year Teacher only costs $70 ($5.20 a month)

Click on the TAEA’s website “Join” link to renew or become a first time member.  One of the best deals is waiting for you!