NAEA Monthly Mentor

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Dr. Patty Bode

Principal, Amherst Regional Middle School
Amherst Regional Public Schools
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In 2016, I accepted the appointment as principal of Amherst Regional Middle School in Amherst, Massachusetts, the school in which I had left a piece of my heart in the art room a decade earlier after earning my doctorate and entering higher education as a teacher educator. Working with undergraduate, master’s level and doctoral students was inspiring, and I had not imagined I would ever leave higher ed. Yet in 2014, I was called back to the PK-12 public schools on a two-year grant appointment to help launch Springfield Conservatory of the Arts, an urban, public middle and high school. Then last year, I was invited to return to Amherst Regional Middle School – this time as the principal. I was thrilled to return to this community, which had shaped so much of my trajectory as a social justice art educator, so I accepted the opportunity to facilitate teaching and learning in the company of early adolescents and the remarkably dedicated faculty who guide them through everyday. Amidst the fray of bus schedules, parent meetings, emergencies in the nurse’s room and faculty meetings, I strive to lead with art education as means to assert student voice and teacher engagement in our school, by questioning what counts as art, who counts as artists and what counts as knowledge? Our community asserts a specific commitment to fulfilling the promise of public education as an avenue to full and equitable participation in our democratic society, and I constantly raise the question of how art education may help pave that road.

I continue to teach courses and guest lecture in higher education for teacher education. My research interests include: critical multicultural and social justice education; criticality in teacher education, the arts in urban and intersectional sites such as schools, museums and communities; the integration of arts in PK-12 curriculum transformation; and access to art education as a civil right, which was the title of my TEDx Talk at OSU in 2013. I have published and lectured on critical art pedagogy based in public schools; the role of the arts and visual culture in retheorizing identity and curriculum; excavating the school-to-prison pipeline and redefining multicultural education. Decades as an activist public school art teacher, combine with many years as a teacher educator inform my art making, research and teaching. I am honored to be the recipient of the NAEA 2017 Eastern Region Supervision/Administration Award, and the 2016 NAEA Women’s Caucus Carrie Nordlund Award for Feminist Pedagogy. I earned my doctorate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst concentrating in Language, Literacy and Culture and am eternally grateful for the mentorship of Dr. Sonia Nieto throughout that process of investigating critical multicultural education.