Independent School Art Education (ISAE) Column: Feb/Mar 2022

NAEA News Feb/Mar 2022

The columns for this issue of NAEA News were written prior to the 2022 National Convention. As such, you may find information about Convention sessions and references to past occurrences in the future tense.

NAEA News_Feb2022_ISAE

Greetings, Independent School Art Educators!

I hope that this letter finds you well as we acclimate to a new calendar year and rapidly approach another busy spring season. Despite the disruptions, a new year is often a time of change and hope, and I can’t think of anyone more hopeful than art educators. As Colleen Wilcox put it, “Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.”

You may be in a place of self-reflection as you recalibrate among shifting COVID protocols and the inevitable midyear adjustments. I’ve found myself thinking of the myriad ways that education has changed over the past 2 years, and the role of independent schools. What do my students and community need right now? What can I do to serve my students today, and also prepare them for the future? What resources best support independent school art educators? In my role as Chair of ISAE, I’ve come to appreciate the wide variety of learning spaces our members facilitate, but it strikes me that a common strength of independent schools is our ability to create spaces for authentic and joyful learning. We are all at different schools and have different stories to tell, but independent school art educators have the opportunity (and responsibility) to create the creative classrooms that our communities need.

Consider for a moment the ways in which you show up for your students and colleagues. Art educators are often the school spirit bringers, the design and innovation experts, and the culture carriers of our institutions. Human connections are at the heart of what we do in the art studio.

In my classroom, connection, inspiration, and optimism come by developing a sense of classroom community and by creating opportunities for student agency and empowerment. It comes by embracing the humanity of others, and by ensuring that students have curricular “windows and mirrors” that allow them to see reflections of their own lives alongside opportunities to visualize the life experiences of others. I see this as a real strength for art educators as we continue much-needed conversations about equity and identity—especially within independent school settings.

As we near the NAEA Convention in March, I look forward to these conversations at our ISAE-branded Business Meeting and Interactive Member Discussion sessions. Please be sure to add both to your agenda! ISAE will also be participating in an in-person Multi-Caucus social event in the city. These are great opportunities for learning and sharing, and also serve as dedicated space for collaboration, connection, and community building among independent school art educators.

One of my wishes for your 2022 is for continued hope and inspiration in the face of challenges. Consider ways in which your unique learning space provides some autonomy for you and your students, and let this be a year of good change and leaning into the art curriculum as an entry point for culture and connection.


Evan Thomas
ISAE President

Connect with ISAE on all of your social media hotspots:
Instagram: @ ISAE.NAEA
Facebook: @ Independent School Art Educators Interest Group
Email: @

Evan Thomas, ISAE Chair

Rebecca Stone-Danahy, ISAE Past Chair

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