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.

Applications for the SAL Class of 2025 will open on August 6, 2024

The Program

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 a 21st-century flagship program: School for Art Leaders. 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 leaders in education, the arts, and advocacy.

Our Approach

  • We believe art educators possess unique skills—developing plans to meet objectives, adapting to meet current needs, recognizing potential and developing others, using resources responsibly, using creative processes to identify opportunities and solve complex challenges.
  • We get the right people together—an annual cohort of peers is selected from among applicants to represent diverse professional experience, demographics, ethnicity, and gender.
  • We introduce relevant and timely ideas about leadership—gain access to others working in this space, to useful tools and resources, to experiential learning, and to rigorous application of knowledge and understanding.
  • Together, we engage meaningful/mindful learning—give and receive feedback from peers; work with expert mentors to refine learning.
  • Together, we get to work—apply learning through your own unique design and execution of leadership experiments; step into leadership roles within your local, state, and national professional communities and mentor other emerging leaders.

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 five years or more of professional practice and currently be 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 a state association and/or your 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.

2024 Program Commitment
The 7-month program begins June 13, 2024 and ends January 31, 2025. A required, on-site 5-day intensive learning module, July 8–12, 2024, in Bentonville, Arkansas, is followed by online virtual learning modules, August through January. A final capstone project is then submitted by January 31, 2025. The 2024 School for Art Leaders Class will be recognized and celebrated at the 2025 NAEA National Convention in Louisville, KY.

Application Process

A completed application package includes:

  1. Online application form
  2. One-page statement (500 words or less) 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 recommending individual knows you/how long
    • Why you are a good candidate
    • Evidence of leadership potential
  4. Resume limited to one to two pages

All applications are confidential. Applicants will receive an email confirmation immediately following application submission.

Program Fee
There is no application fee. Once accepted, a program fee of $900 for members and $1,100 for non-members must be submitted by June 1. 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 25 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.

Questions? E-mail Laura Grundler, Director of Learning and Program Development at

Scholarship Information

The Leaders in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Scholarship is intended to support class of 2025 participants who are interested in growing their leadership capacity and skills, while also engaging in the work of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I).

Scholarships include the cost of SAL program fees; accommodations at the 21C Museum Hotel in Bentonville, AR; and a travel reimbursement of up to $600. Details and application information will be available here beginning August 6, 2024.

Professional Development Credit
2024 School for Art Leaders
Participants can earn 45 hours of Professional Development through Virtual Art Educators.

Participants can also opt earn to earn credit through CSU, Chico Regional & Continuing Education. The SAL program provides 45 hours of instructional learning which is eligible for 3 professional development units; or for 3 graduate units for a letter grade. For further information, visit