Connected Arts Networks

Leveraging Arts Learning Communities for Teacher Leadership and Student Achievement

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Apply to be a Connected Arts Networks (CAN) Teacher Leader and be part of a virtual, nationwide Professional Learning Community (PLC)! Over the course of five years, learn and collaborate with other visual arts educators, gaining resources to positively impact your students.

The application period closed on Monday, March 21 at 8:00 AM (PT)

Download complete details here.

Project Description

The National Art Education Association (NAEA), in partnership with the Educational Theater Association (EdTA), the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), and the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) is launching Connected Arts Networks (CAN), a five-year grant initiative to create nationwide virtual Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) with educators in visual arts, music, theater, dance and media arts. The overarching vision for CAN is to build a sustainable model of professional learning for arts educators to strengthen their pedagogy, instruction and leadership skills in order to better serve students. This project is modeled after the successful structure of the PLC program in New York City, initiated by the Office of Arts and Special Projects (OASP), another partnering organization.

In year one of this multi-year project, we will recruit a passionate and diverse group of educators to create a national professional learning community of Teacher Leaders. In year two, the initial PLC of Teacher Leaders will receive specialized virtual training to build their capacity to address Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion and Social-Emotional Learning within arts instruction. After year two, each Teacher Leader will facilitate their own virtual PLC of arts educators of their same art discipline and student grade levels in these same content areas, while also emphasizing the importance of leadership skills. We view these content areas as the most pressing for arts educators at this moment in time and believe that we can positively impact students by creating opportunities for arts educators to learn from and with each other.

On behalf of the project, each national partner association (visual arts, theater, music and dance) will be selecting 15 Teacher Leaders. We welcome educators in media arts, and invite them to apply under one of these 4 art disciplines and to note media arts in the application. Upon being selected, Teacher Leaders will participate in a Project Orientation in May 2022, a Summer Institute in July 2022, and starting in September 2022, monthly meetings with their PLC (see below timeline for more details). The goal is that by June 2023, each PLC Teacher Leader will be prepared to facilitate their own virtual PLC, which will include 10 arts educators from around the country seeking a peer community.

Timeline & Time Commitment

  • Monday, March 14, 2022: Applications due
  • Early April: Teacher Leaders are interviewed
  • End of April: Teacher Leaders selected and notified
  • Wednesday, May 18, 7-9pm: Virtual PLC Orientation
  • July 7th, 8th, 26th and 27th, 1-5pm each day: Virtual Summer Institute, with a bridge of some asynchronous work between July 8th and July 26th
  • September 2022 - July 2023 - Monthly meetings begin, 1-2 hours in the evening, dates will be set by PLCs. Document the process of piloting practices in their classrooms.
  • 4 Quarterly Workshops led by content specialists, 1-2 hours within 7-9pm ET:
    • #1 week of Oct 31, 2022: Tuesday, Nov 1
    • #2 week of Jan 2, 2023: Thursday, Jan 5
    • #3 week of March 6, 2023: Wednesday, March 8
    • #4 week of May 8, 2023: Thursday, May 11
  • September 2023 - July 2026 Teacher Leaders continue to participate in monthly PLCs while simultaneously facilitating their own monthly PLCs, coaching peer art educators and leading the creation of digital resources and toolkits.

Key Content Areas For Professional Learning

  • Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I)
  • Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
  • Teacher leadership in standards-based arts instruction and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)

Overall Goals Of The Project

  • To develop highly effective arts educators, building their capacity to address ED&I and SEL in their standards-based arts instruction through sustained, intensive, and job-embedded blended professional learning.
  • To develop a local and national cadre of Teacher Leaders in the arts by building their content knowledge and leadership skills in order to expand the impact of arts learning for students and their communities.
  • To develop accessible arts-based instructional materials, strategies, and toolkits to disseminate to arts educators nationwide, including synchronous and asynchronous professional development programs and digital resources.


  • Peer mentorship and community network of ongoing support
  • Participation in a select group of nationally-recognized Teacher Leaders
  • Quarterly virtual workshops with national content experts
  • Potential bi-annual virtual intervisitations with peer arts educators, depending on availability and scheduling
  • Stipend: Up to $8000 total across 5 years
    • $500 in Year 1 (Orientation Year: May-July)
    • $1500 in Year 2 (Training Year: September-July)
    • $2000 each year for Years 3-5 (Implementation Years: September-July)
  • Professional development hours to utilize towards your local professional development needs (check local requirements)
  • Annual professional development / leadership certificates to recognize participation in the program
  • Opportunities to contribute or be featured in publications such as magazines, newsletters, website, blogs, and/or professional journals
  • Opportunities to present at webinars, podcasts, town halls, and/or local/national conferences and conventions

Required Qualifications

  • Be a current art educator at a PreK-12 school
  • Minimum of 3-5 years as an arts educator
  • Demonstrated skills in standards-based arts education instruction and familiarity with the National Core Arts Standards in your particular arts discipline
  • Interest in and commitment to participating in multi-year leadership development groups at the national level
  • Strong collaboration skills
  • Commitment to Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion
  • Commitment to the importance of integrating Social-Emotional- Learning into the classroom
  • A desire to create a shared space for arts educators to learn from each other
  • Availability to attend July summer institutes and evening and/or weekend meetings (see timeline above for more info)
  • Ability to work and meet remotely

Preferred Experience

  • Experience with Professional Learning Communities
  • Experience with online collaboration platforms and/or Learning Management Systems
  • Collaborating with other educators in remote settings
  • Teacher Certification
  • Experience working in Title 1 schools / Title 1-eligible students

How To Apply

The application period closed on Monday, March 21 at 8:00 AM (PT)


Contact Amy Appleton, CAN Project Director at

Program activities for this project are fully funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Assistance for Arts Education Program, projected for a total of $8,515,648.00 over five years.

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