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Art teachers find inspiration at national convention

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By The Staff

An important part of the strategic plan of the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is to provide quality professional development opportunities for educators. Twice annually teachers can apply for professional development grants from the LAPS Foundation. Last fall, several art teachers applied for a grant to attend the 2018 National Art Education Association (NAEA) National Convention in Seattle through Thursday. The LAPS Foundation was able to fund 4 teachers to attend: Daisy Gorman-Nichols (Mountain), Libbi Lovejoy (LAHS), and Elizabeth Fisher and Laura Parkison (LAMS).

Two additional teachers, Renee Mitsunaga (Chamisa) and Mary Grace (LAHS), were able to attend with separate funding.

In the request to the LAPS Foundation, Mitsunaga, chair of the LAPS art department, stated “As we [art teachers] collaborate to research, share best practices, techniques, and projects with each other, we recognize the need to look nationally to be current with the new, exciting, and changing trends in art education.”

This year’s convention was entitled “ART + DESIGN = STEAM”, and it reflected the vision of integration of the arts with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The integrative focus of the conference inspired the art teachers to explore ways to create collaborative experiences for students. The convention is the largest professional development opportunity offered worldwide, exclusively developed by art educators for art educators.

Included in the 1,000 sessions offered at this year’s convention were numerous workshops specifically targeted to LAPS professional development goals. The teachers attended hands-on workshops and took opportunities to preview instructional resources and materials for purchase at special discounts that are not available elsewhere.  

With the theme of STEAM behind this convention, the Foundation’s desire was to inspire teachers to become more collaborative as they gained comfort in integrating core subject areas including math and the sciences.

Over the three days of the conference, LAHS video arts teacher Libbi Lovejoy attended 15 of the sessions including “3-D Printing and Design: A Beginner’s Guide”, where she learned how to facilitate 3-D design on paper using web-based software. Lovejoy also attended “Creatures in the Classroom: Makeup Effects in the Art Curriculum”, from which she learned how to bring Hollywood into the classroom, including how to make students into zombies and to make them appear years older.

Mountain Elementary Art teacher Daisy Gorman-Nichols, said “This was my first opportunity to attend this conference, and it was an amazing event. The theme of this conference was STEAM, which I found to be right in line with my school’s goals of synchronizing science, math, technology and art. I took classes for three days in a row and came home with lesson plans, contacts, and many more resources that will allow me to help my students grow as well-rounded individuals. I spent time talking to teachers from all over America about the best teaching practices and methods. I left feeling a great sense of excitement about teaching art and the impact it can have on our students.”

The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is an independent organization that supports, challenges, and invests in a successful future for all Los Alamos public school students.

It raises money through generous contributions from individuals and organizations who share the Foundation’s core values.

To learn more about the LAPS Foundation and how to get involved and/or make a donation, visit lapsfoundation.com or call 505-500-6501.