An interview with an employed MU Art Ed grad, Jackieraye Barr

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Degree: Bachelor of Science in Art Education

Class Year: 2013

Q: Why did you choose Millersville University?

A: I received an academic passport scholarship after attending Harrisburg Area Community College. The “passport” allowed me to choose from any of the 14 schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education at which to complete my undergraduate degree. I chose Millersville because it was within driving distance of my home and many nearby cities. Additionally, it was one of the few schools in South-central Pennsylvania that offered an art education program and Millersville had a reputation for producing fine teachers.

Q: Did you always want to be a teacher?

A: I was always extremely artistic and creative as a child, but my emotions didn’t mature as quickly as my brain. I never really thought about sharing my abilities with others until it came time to pick a major for college. I graduated high school in the late 1990s with full intentions of obtaining my art teaching degree from Penn State. Stressful events happened in my life and I left college to pursue other options; on the job training as a dental assistant and a brief run as a cosmetologist. I knew in my heart I was given strong creative, academic and social gifts, and I wasn’t feeling fulfilled in my other career choices.

Q: Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in teaching?

A: My younger brother Tyler, who works in early childhood intervention, sat me down about six years ago and gave me a “talking to”. He knew I had been feeling unfulfilled and searching for meaning in my career. Tyler helped me to make the final leap back into a four-year program to finish what I started many years ago and encouraged me that I could be successful despite not having studied math for over a decade!

Q: Where are you teaching now?

A: I am proud to be an elementary art teacher in Carlisle Area School District and am surrounded by an amazing support team.

Q: Did you feel well prepared for your teaching position?

A: I felt ready to take on a classroom as soon as I had graduated because I had worked in many part time childcare or teaching related jobs while enrolled at Millersville.

Q: How do you feel Millersville contributed to your preparedness?

A: The Art department faculty at Millersville really showed deep interest and appreciation for my drive and work ethic, and were always willing to assist in any way needed. Jeri Robinson-Lawrence spent numerous hours assisting me with tricky things like scheduling classes and making phone calls. Dr. Leslie Gates continues to be a mentor to me. She has truly brought new life into the Art Education department through her involvement in organizations like Pennsylvania Art Education Association and by introducing the upcoming generation of art teachers to progressive theories on choice-based arts education and other non-traditional practices.

Q: Did you hold any jobs between graduation and landing your position?

A: Because the field of art education is highly competitive and it is difficult to land an interview, I worked at the York Jewish Community Center in York, Pa. while I sought a full-time position in a public school. I loved that job, but it was strictly part-time and not supporting me financially, so I continued to submit 65 applications to various schools in the region over the course of a year. I also taught on occasion at the Lancaster County Youth Intervention Center.

Q: How did they contribute to your professional life?

A: Working in facilities that service a very diverse, demanding population really challenged me to be flexible in classroom management styles. I learned self-discipline, timing, planning and organization skills. Perhaps most importantly, I gained confidence in communicating with parents, directors, management, students and fellow employees.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of teaching?

A: I love the relationships and bonds created between teacher and student. When a child feels comfortable enough to make mistakes in the classroom because he or she trusts in himself or herself to work through a problem, I feel great joy and pride.

Q: Were you a part of any clubs or organizations during your time at MU?

A: I volunteered outside of the University and was also inducted into Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education.

Q: Do you have any heroes or a quote you like to live by?

A: My husband was my life support during my undergraduate experience. He stuck through four years of my insane schedules, he financially supported us during my time at Millersville, and he sacrificed living spaces and long commutes. Money was tight, but we made it work. He’s my hero. As for quotes, I heard this one a while ago in school and it has stuck with me, “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday and all is well.”

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to students at MU looking for teaching jobs?

A: It will likely be very challenging and competitive to find a career, and you might be tempted to settle for anything out of frustration. Treat college like your job and you’ll have an edge over people who just barely get by. Be wise and stay involved in organizations related to your specific field, those professors and connections will be your cheerleaders. If you are young in the field and have little experience beyond student teaching, try to substitute teach, volunteer, work in child care or a related field to build confidence in your classroom management skills until you receive an offer you can believe in. Whatever you do, don’t give up.

 

 

 

Millersville Art Ed Grad – hired to be the School Age Child Care Coordinator at the City Center YMCA

Millersville Art Edu graduate Kerrin Giovanelli took some some time to tell us about her new position.

How did you become the School Age Child Care Coordinator for the City Center YMCA?

While I was student teaching in New Holland, my co-op teacher was asked to teach a summer Art and Drama camp at the New Holland Rec Center. He was unable to teach the camp, so he passed along my name to the executive director. After meeting with the director, he hired me not only to teach the 3 week art camp, but also to be a supervisor and lead teacher for the Rec’s summer camp and eventually their half-day Kindergarten program in the fall. I replaced Keisha McCauley, another Millersville Art Ed graduate, who after running this program for a year, landed her dream job teaching art at a local middle school.

While at the New Holland Rec Center, I planned all activities and lessons for the children, dealt with parents one on one every day, made schedules, coordinated guest speakers to come in, and took care of the administrative duties that come along with running an after school program.

In November, the Lancaster Family YMCA bought the New Holland Rec Center, which then became the YMCA at New Holland. It was then that I was offered to interview for a position as the School Age Child Care Coordinator at the City Center YMCA in Lancaster City. I got the job, and started full time here about 2 weeks ago.

What do you do as the School Age Child Care Coordinator?

As a coordinator, I will be in charge of three programs — planning all activities, coordinating with the School District of Lancaster and parents, and planning all field trips and activities. We have an after-school program here for Ross and Wharton elementary schools that is hosted in the YMCA building. In addition, we also have an end of day program at Ross and Wickersham elementary schools where we go in to provide an hour of enrichment for students who stay after school for tutoring. And lastly, we provide a summer camp program for as many as 120 children.

How do you like your new position?

While I’m not in my own classroom, I do get to interact with children everyday and make sure that they get to have a great end of day experience before they go home. Though I’m not working in a school district, I do have full time job with benefits, and get to partner with school districts, still getting my name out there. While I will never give up on having my own art classroom, I feel that this is my great stepping stone!

Opportunities for art education majors

We often receive requests for students to get involved with various happenings both on and off-campus. Consider taking advantage of these two resume-builders!

1. Paid positions available teaching summer art camps at the Ware Center. See more info here: Class Flyer2

2. Non-paid position helping with an after-school art program at a local elementary school. See more info here: Art Club Letter revised

If you are interested, respond quickly! Let Dr. Gates know or contact the person on the flyer directly.

Why a special topics course about Differentiated Instruction?

This spring Dr. Gates will be teaching a special topics course in our graduate program on the topic of Differentiated Instruction. Faculty can propose special topics courses, and here is her rationale for proposing this most recent one:

             Differentiated Instruction, or “DI,” has been a part of education scholarship for a very long time. Educators for the past century have understood that one of the foundational challenges to teaching is the diversities (in all senses) present within and among the students that make up classrooms. In the late 1990s, Carol Tomlinson’s work (which had previously advocated for teachers to use Howard Gardner’s ideas of multiple intelligences and brain-based research to better reach both gifted and struggling students) began to use the term differentiation, which she described as the process of “ensuring that what a student learns, how he or she learns it, and how the student demonstrates what he or she has learned is a match for that student’s readiness level, interests, and preferred mode of learning.” Tomlinson’s work met the field at a time when school leaders across the United States were struggling with how best to meed the needs of their student bodies, which were of increasing ethnic, racial, learning, and social diversities. The growing DI literature, and with strong support and endorsements from Education Leadership organizations such as ASCD, quickly became the topic of many required professional development sessions and district initiatives. As a result, DI joined other acronyms like AYP, NCLB, and IEP that reflected both formal and informal policies that significantly influenced what teachers were expected to do.
             I would posit that the felt need for teachers to offer differentiated instruction to students is magnified in the current, overly-standardized educational climate. Differentiated instruction, and it’s relative popularity among administrators as something they desire of their teachers, gives me hope that education leaders haven’t completely lost all good sense about teaching and learning. Of course one size/method/process/product/environment doesn’t work for all students. Unfortunately, the rest of the system is built on an industrial model that may pose serious barriers for differentiation. My current view is that differentiation is possible, but might be very difficult work for over-burdened teachers especially because it runs counter to the very standardized system in which teachers are being asked to teach. As one teacher friend recent asked me, “We’re expected to differentiate in our classrooms full of diverse students, but then we are told all students need to take the same test, at the same time, in the same amount of time, and get the same (proficient) score. What sense does that make?”
             So why this course? In short, it seems like the right time given the convergence of a few factors. First, Davis Publications recently addedDifferentiated Instruction in Art to their Art Education in Practice Series. I use this series often in my art education courses and have respect for many other books in this series. If they add a new book to this series, it’s worth the read, in my opinion. Second, the author of this book, Dr. Heather Fountain, is someone whom I’ve worked with and respect greatly. If she is writing about the topic, I can assure you it’s because she has the best interests of students and teachers in mind. Third, it is showing up in local district’s strategic plans. District’s intentional focus and provision for professional development on DI demonstrates a continued interest and need for conversations about the needs of learners. As a result, I expect this graduate course to be a dynamic and energetic gathering of art teachers who want to think critically about DI and what it means in broad educational contexts as well as in their classroom contexts.
             I bring a number of questions to this course and look forward to adding my students’ questions about differentiation to our exploration. So far, my list of wonderings includes: Why differentiate? Differentiate how? What are the relationships/tensions between differentiation and standardization? What  constituted differentiated instruction before Tomlinson and Fountain’s work? What relationships/tensions exist between assessment and differentiation?

Recent MU Art Ed grad hired by the ELPC!

Laura Abbot, a 2012 art education graduate, and Manager of Policy Projects for the ELPC – The Education Policy Leadership Center, shares her experience on the job market and some advice for those of us seeking jobs in art education today.

1) Describe the time between graduation from MU and getting hired by EPLC?

I graduated from Millersville in May of 2012, and was officially hired by The Education Policy and Leadership Center about a month later.

I was made aware of EPLC and this job opportunity simply by attending in April 2012 a free community forum for the release of an arts and education policy report published by EPLC.  All Millersville art students were invited, yet only two students, including myself, showed up.

While my time between graduating and beginning work at EPLC was only a month, the arduous hiring process began immediately following the forum in early April.  It was all of a sudden June, and the position with EPLC sounded promising but I had yet to secure the job.  During a particularly rough post-graduation moment, a mentor of mine told me if I were to just find a job then my other uncertainties – such as where to live – would solve themselves.  I laughed and thought, “Right, like there are just jobs out there.  No one is finding a job!”  Then I realized: Especially not me, because I’m not applying!  It was at that moment I declared applying for teaching positions and interviewing as my full time job until something was official.

2) What do you like about your current position?

 I didn’t grow up saying I wanted to manage policy projects for an education policy nonprofit.  That description doesn’t sound even remotely connected to art education, but what I do in this position is facilitate statewide advocacy for education, including art education, in Pennsylvania.

It isn’t traditional teaching per se, but it is a place where I can use my passion for education and love of writing to communicate ideas to a diverse audience.  I love that in my position I am immersed in art, education, writing, journalism, state government, political science, history, economics, philosophy, and even math.  In a way, this is similar to the art classroom, where all disciplines coalesce.

3) What should art education students consider when looking for jobs, especially related to jobs outside the traditional K-12 classroom?

Upon graduation you will receive your Bachelor of Science in Art Education, which qualify you to teach in a public school in this state.  That does not mean it is the only career for which you are qualified.  It also does not mean you must teach right away, or as time passes outside of the classroom you will somehow lose your passion for it.

Whatever your future career may be, you can approach it through the lenses of an artist, art teacher, and creative leader.  If your ultimate goal is to end up in the classroom, trust that every experience outside of the classroom will only inform your eventual work inside the classroom.

4) How has your degree in art education helped prepare you for what you are doing now?

Studying pedagogy has allowed me to appreciate that not everyone begins on the same page.  In the classroom, this is “background knowledge” and pre-assessments.  In the policy world, this is “going to where the legislator is” and priority assessments.  For advocacy, it means sharing with others the value of the arts, by sharing stories or providing authentic experiences to parents or administrators who may not have had a robust arts education.

My time spent in the Millersville art department honed my skills of seeing, questioning, and imagining intangible possibilities.  It is my opinion we need more people with these skills around every table, not just the art or art-related table.

5) What advice would you give those seeking jobs in art education in 2013?

Advocacy is about relationship-building and I submit the job search is no different.  I cannot stress enough the importance of being present in the community through volunteering and attending art or education-related events.

While applying for teaching positions, look also to local, statewide, or national arts/cultural organizations and their partners, and examine your other interests and seek jobs related to those fields.  You may be surprised where the path takes you and how connected all these paths really are.

Teacher Evaluation Workshop!

THANK YOU to the many teachers who attended our event. We look forward to providing many more professional development opportunities for local teachers. You can find the resources from the workshop on our “Resources” tab.

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On Oct 5th, 2013, the MU Art Education Program and the Pennsylvania Art Education Association are co-hosting a workshop on the new Teacher Evaluation System, focusing on the development of Student Learning Objectives (SLO’s) for elective subject teachers. David Dietz, consultant to the Pennsylvania Department of Education and lead on the Teacher Evaluation project, will be the main speaker. Additionally, elective subject teachers who piloted the SLO’s in their classrooms during the 2012-2013 school year will share their experiences.

TIME: 9:30 am – 12 pm. Registration begins at 9 am.

LOCATION: The multipurpose room in Stayer Hall at Millersville University.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION: The Pennsylvania Art Education Association is providing a light continental breakfast. The event is free and capped at 55 attendees. Registration is required. Please fill out the form below to register for the event. If you have questions, contact Leslie Gates at leslie.gates@millersville.edu or Melissa Gallagher at paearegion7@gmail.com.