Back to School 2021-22: Community Check-in

NAEA Town Hall Conversations | September 28, 2021

Back to School 2021-22: Community Check-in

View the September 28 recording here

Download the accompanying handout here

We learned so much from the challenges and shifts of the last unique school year. How can we build on that to help create the best experience for our learners and ourselves now and in the potentially uncertain months ahead? Join with colleagues as they share strategies and approaches to help us start 2021–22 with a fresh perspective.

Complete information on all NAEA Town Hall Conversations is available here.


Laura Grundler
Visual Arts Coordinator, Plano, TX

Laura Grundler currently serves as the visual arts coordinator for Plano ISD. Her 21-year journey as an educator began with teaching middle school and high school art, then moving to educational leadership as an assistant principal, and finally into the role of visual arts coordinator. Her awards and recognitions include the Excellence in Teaching Award from Plano ISD and the Outstanding Art Educator for the Supervision and Administration Division from the Texas Art Education Association. Grundler and her husband are creative collaborators and arts advocates striving to connect the dots for educators by building a professional learning network. Together they cofounded the popular Twitter chat, #K12ArtChat. Their work has been recognized by their school district, featured in the local press, and honored by Texas Art Education Association with the second-ever Lone Star Advocacy Award for their commitment to art education. They have also been recognized by the National Art Education Association with the Art and Technology Community Service Award. Grundler and her husband have consulted with and written for the Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM, Scholastic Art magazine, Adobe Edu, and Davis/SchoolArts Magazine. Their latest project is K12ArtChat the Podcast, in partnership with Davis Publications and SchoolArts Magazine.

Wanda Knight
Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Associate Professor of Art Education; African American Studies; and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Penn State University, Harrisburg, PA

Wanda Knight, assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Penn State Harrisburg, is President-Elect of the National Art Education Association. Knight chaired the NAEA Task Force on Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion, which brought forth 16 recommendations that currently serve as strategic priorities for advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the NAEA community—including the recommendation to create the NAEA Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Commission, on which she now serves as an At-Large Commissioner. Besides university-level teaching, Knight has served as a preK–12 art teacher, an art museum educator, and a principal of elementary and secondary public schools. Her work concerning antiracism and intercultural preservice teacher preparation, culturally competent teaching, equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice is published broadly. Additionally, her presentations span national and international locations. Her honors include the NAEA Distinguished Fellows Award, the John & Betty Michaels Distinguished Lecturer in Art Education Award, Women’s Caucus June King McFee and Maryl Fletcher de Jong Awards, Pennsylvania Art Education Association Outstanding Higher Education Art Educator Award, the NAEA J. Eugene Grigsby Jr. Award for outstanding contributions to the field of art education, and the Kenneth Marantz Distinguished Alumni Award from The Ohio State University.

Don Masse
VAPA Visual Arts Resource Teacher, La Mesa, CA

Don Masse’s earliest art-related memory is getting in trouble for drawing on one of the mint green walls in the family room with a bright red crayon. Since then, his love for the language of visual arts has never waned. He is motivated to create by a desire to leave a positive mark, whether transient or long-lasting, on the people in his life and the communities that he is part of. Masse has taught in the San Diego Unified School District since 2001, where he is firmly committed to introducing his students to the work of contemporary artists (including numerous ones in San Diego) from a variety of backgrounds and creative fields. Masse believes that students should see themselves in the curriculum so that they feel valued and loved. He also feels that students become more engaged with visual arts content and design challenges when they can see these elements being applied by diverse artists working in today’s world. When he is not in the classroom, one can often find him with a piece of chalk in hand, drawing either in the street or in the safety of his own living room.

Evan Thomas
Fine Arts Educator, Blairstown, NJ

Evan Thomas is an artist, educator, and advocate for social justice. A teacher of fine art at Philadelphia-area independent schools from 2009 to 2015, he joined Blair Academy’s faculty in 2015, where he teaches drawing, painting, and photography courses. Thomas serves as the faculty advisor for the Black and LatinX Student Union and as the SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) program leader for faculty and staff. He earned a bachelor’s degree in art education from Kutztown University (2009), a master’s degree in art education from Boston University (2013), and recently earned a certificate in school management and leadership from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (2021). An active member of the Art Educators of New Jersey and the National Art Education Association (NAEA), he currently serves as President of the NAEA’s Independent School Art Educators Interest Group, and he piloted NAEA’s Certificate for Cultural Competency in Teaching and Leadership (2021). Thomas’s interests include STEAM education, the subject of his graduate research; advancing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and engaging local communities in art. Outside the classroom, he operates a successful portrait and wedding photography business, and he coaches winter and spring track.

Explore More