School for Art Leaders

Committed to supporting art educators in their quest to excel as leaders, NAEA has designed a 21st century flagship program: School for Art Leaders at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Since 1947, art educators representing all states, regions, and work contexts have provided volunteer leadership service that has shaped the field of art education and positioned The National Art Education Association (NAEA) as the premier professional community for art educators. Committed to supporting art educators in their quest to excel as leaders, NAEA has designed of a 21st century flagship program: School for Art Leaders at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Utilizing experiential, action-learning modules and in-depth conversations with expert leaders, the program provides participants with learning experiences and skills to successfully lead in any environment.

Those selected for each class annually will contribute to the development of an extraordinary community cohort committed to leadership excellence. Upon successful completion, participants become members of the national School for Art Leaders network and are positioned to excel as educator, artist and advocate leaders.

The Program

The purpose of the NAEA School for Art Leaders at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to provide a transformative experience for art educators to both inspire and prepare members to become active leaders of positive change in the field of art education.

A cohort of no more than 25 participants annually will form a learning community throughout the 7 months of the program. They will meet in a Kickoff Webinar in preparation for growth as individuals, and then face-to-face as a community through a 5-day intensive experience at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. The cohort will continue to learn and support one another through application of leadership experiments and debriefing sessions through coaching and mentoring for the next seven months.

The program design is geared specifically for art educators and is based on the work and recommendations of the NAEA Leadership Development Task Force. Five different leadership models provide a strong basis for the content of the work, with specific individual and group exercises woven throughout the experience.

  • The NAEA Art Educator Competency Model (developed by the Leadership Development Task Force)
  • Thurber-Zimmerman Empowerment/Leadership Model
  • Mindful Leadership
  • Total Leadership
  • Emotional Intelligence

Eligibility and Application Selection

Art education professionals who are new to leadership as well as those who have a range of leadership experience and are looking to enhance their skills are encouraged to apply.

Successful applicants will:

  • Have 5 years or more of professional practice and is currently working as an art educator (school/school district, museum, college/university, local or state agency, community organization, or other work context)
  • Commit to fully participating in the program including the longitudinal study on leadership impact in art education upon completion of the program;
  • Have organizational support from either and/or state association; school/institution.

NAEA expects that the graduates of the program will actively apply their leadership skills in ways that will enhance their institutions, and/or NAEA and its affiliates and contribute a positive impact on the field of art education.

Program Commitment

The 7-month program begins June 15, 2016 and ends January 30, 2017. There is a required onsite 5-day intensive learning module, July 11 - 15, 2016, followed by online virtual learning modules, August through January; a final Capstone project is completed and submitted by January 15, 2017. The 2016 School for Art Leaders Class will be recognized and celebrated during the 2017 NAEA National Convention in New York.

Application Process

The 2016 Class of School for Art Leaders has been selected. The application process for the 2017 Class will open January 2017.

The completed application for the 2016 NAEA School for Art Leaders Class must be received by Monday, April 18, 2016. E-mail the completed application to:

A completed application package includes:

  1. Application form;
  2. One page statement (500 words maximum) to include:
    • What you hope to gain
    • Where you are in your career and why leadership development is important to you at this time
    • How participation will benefit your work as an art educator
  3. One letter of recommendation to include:
    • How the individual recommending knows you/how long
    • Why you are a good candidate
    • Evidence of leadership potential
  4. Resume limited to 1-2 pages

All applications are confidential. NAEA will send an e-mail confirming receipt of your application within 2 business days of receipt.

Program Fee

There is no application fee; once accepted a program fee of $799 for NAEA members or $860 for non-members must be submitted by June 10, 2016. The program fee includes access to all courses and related materials including the onsite intensive program at Crystal Bridges. Travel and housing are additional and at the expense of the participant. NAEA works to secure competitive and optional housing rates.

Selection Process

Each class is limited to twenty-five individuals annually. Each application is carefully read and scored by a Selection Committee, made up of a diverse group of active NAEA leaders who remain anonymous throughout the selection process. The Selection Committee is committed to NAEA’s goal of supporting the leadership development of art educators toward creating a pool of leader-ready individuals to advance the profession and the field. Selection will be based on the committee’s evaluation of the readiness for the experience and application of the leadership skills. The selection will also ensure diverse professional experience, volunteer service, geographic designation, ethnicity and other indications of leadership potential.


Application Due Date: April 18, 2016
Notification of Selection: May 16, 2016
Payment Due: June 10, 2016
Programming Begins: June 15, 2016 with an orientation webinar

Other Details

  • Registration Fee: $799 for NAEA members or $860 for non-members. The program fee includes: breakfast and lunch during programming at Crystal Bridges; dinners are on your own.
  • Hotel Information: Discounted accommodations are available from the 21C Hotel, 200 NE A Street, Bentonville, AR 72712. Room rate: $169/night. Book before June 13, 2016 to secure the discounted rate. To make reservations, call the front desk at 479-286-6500 and reference the NAEA School for Art Leaders. The 21C Hotel is a contemporary museum boutique hotel within walking distance to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the shops and restaurants of downtown Bentonville.


Questions? E-mail

Professional Development Credit

2016 School for Art Leaders
CSU, Chico Regional & Continuing Education provides 45 hours of instructional learning which is eligible for 3 professional development units ($255); or for 3 graduate units ($900) for a letter grade. For further information, visit