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Heather Leah Ryerson Fountain, Ph.D.
"I have seen the power that art has to open doors to understanding and connection for those who have been bared that opportunity; whether due to limitation of access, understanding, or communication. The most significant moments of my life as a teacher, have been those when I have seen students arrive at that amazing ah-ha moment when their eyes light up with understanding. They have finally made the connection and they are as proud of themselves as you are of them. That is the power of art education."
Dr. Heather Leah Ryerson Fountain is an Associate Professor of Art Education and Crafts at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, where she serves as the chair of the undergraduate art education program. She teaches graduate and undergraduate art education students, as well as special education and elementary education majors, about the power of art to reach and teach all students.
Dr. Fountain was most recently recognized for her work with children and adults with disabilities, including the creation of a unique course titled Designing for Disabilities, which calls on art education students to engage in disability awareness through interaction with design partners from the local community who have various disabilities. In 2012 she was awarded the Pennsylvania Art Education Association’s Outstanding Special Needs Art Educator Award and in 2013 was received the National Art Education Association's, Council for Exceptional Children, VSA Peter J. Geisser Special Needs Art Educator Award. This award was given to recognize excellence in scholarship, community service, professional leadership, teaching and an impact on individuals with disabilities. Harvard Graduate School of Education recently highlighted her teaching in their on-line journal in an article titled: Art of Teaching
Dr. Fountain serves as the membership chair of the NAEA Women's Caucus and at the state level she serves as the Higher Education Division Director for the Pennsylvania Art Education Association [PAEA]. She often consults with schools and regularly presents at state and national conferences on topics related to differentiated instruction, disAbilitities and the use of art to teach literature instruction.
She has served as an invited columnist on the use of art to differentiate literature instruction for the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development’s [ASCD] Spotlight on Language, Literacy and Literature. Her research on differentiated instruction is also highlighted in a chapter she wrote titled, The art of portraiture, in the forthcoming text Practice theory: Seeing the power of teacher researchers. (Eds.). M. Buffington & S. Wilson McKay to be published by the National Art Education Association, 2013. Her latest book, Differentiated instruction in art (2013) was published in both print and digital formats as part of the Art Education in Practice Series by Davis Publications. She currently serves as the editor for a new series of art education best practice books related to differentiate instruction and teaching diverse learners. This series is expected to begin publication in 2014 through Davis Publications.
During the summer Dr. Fountain can usually be found in her favorite place, Ocean Park, Maine, where she trains camp counseling staff, leads an art camp for middle school aged youth, and works with adults with disabilities. She has worked or volunteered at the same summer camp, Camp Oceanwood, for over 25 years. When not at camp, Dr. Fountain can be seen kayaking in the salt marsh with her husband Matthew, working on her glass artwork or behind the counter at her family’s gift shop, Cottage Designs.