Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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Friday 05.27.11

Independent School Art Education

News from the Independent School Art Education (ISAE) Special Interest Group of the NAEA!

ISAEBarbara Nueske-Perez.  Collaboration.  Ink on Paper.  2010

Did you know that we exist?

The ISAE was formed in 2008 for the purposes of promoting art education through professional development, service, advancement of knowledge, and leadership in the independent school setting. This can only be accomplished through communication and relationships built between independent school educators and the NAEA. Many independent school educators are not members of their state art education association or even members of NAEA. The ISAE will serve as a driving force to recruit membership to the state and national level of the NAEA for the continued advancement of our profession. In the independent schools, there can be disparities in what is taught among schools and the standards they follow. By aligning with the NAEA and holding state conferences and national meetings, the ISAE will assess problems unique to independent schools and work to find solutions. In addition, we will bring to light exemplary practices in independent schools and work to share those successes. In particular, the ISAE will examine advocacy for the arts through the independent school sector. Further, the ISAE will work with the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) at the state and national level to act as a liaison between the NAIS and the NAEA for the continued advancement of art education in the independent school.

In 2007, the Delegate’s Assembly of the NAEA approved for each state to create an ad-hoc position on each state board for an independent school representative. Do you know who your independent school representative is at the state level?

Since 2008, the ISAE has held annual meetings at the NAEA convention for the purposes of communication, organization, and to discuss issues as they relate to independent school education. We have MANY fantastic independent schools and wonderful independent school art educators across the country. Yet, very few choose to celebrate the creative programming that is happening in their schools. I hope that this will change! Independent school educators have the capacity to lead by example at the national and international level simply by becoming involved.

In conjunction with co-President with Barbara Nueske-Perez of the Tesseract School in Arizona, we have been working hard to gather membership and promote the art education programs in independent schools across the nation. We hope that you will join us! You can find more information about us on the NAEA website at: On this page, you can subsribe to our listserve and “like” us on Facebook. We also have a .Ning site on the NAIS website at:

Join today! Promote your school! Promote your excellence in teaching in the classroom! Become an advocate for art education and become a leader in the field by example! All individuals professionally engaged in or actively interested in arts education, art or related fields may become members of the Independent School Art Education Special Interest Group.

-Rebecca Stone-Danahy

Wednesday 05.25.11

National Art Honor Society: Part Two

WOW! A very exciting event has recently occurred! On May 24, 2011 at 7 p.m., the North Carolina Virtual Public Schools (NCVPS) sponsored the first virtual National Honor Society induction ceremony! As part of the NCVPS Art Department, students were nominated to be a part of the newly formed NAHS chapter. Debra Pylypiw (NAEA SE Region V.P.) and I are co-sponsors of the NCVPS NAHS chapter and we have worked together to recruit students into the program, create bylaws that are specific to our school, and register our chapter with the NAEA. We’ve held virtual meetings with the students (our students live across the state of North Carolina), collected dues, worked with students to find ways for them to complete service hours in the visual arts through their school or school community, and organized the virtual induction ceremony!

Through the computer and using the Wimba software, we invited students, friends, and families to attend the induction. As part of our ceremony, we had virtual streamers, balloons, cake, and fireworks! All of the inductees were introduced through an uploaded presentation and our guest speaker was Deborah B. Reeve, Executive Director of the NAEA. The newly inducted students were very proud to be a part of the first virtual NAHS chapter and each family was thrilled with the ceremony. Students can now add the NCVPS NAHS chapter to their college resumes and we look forward to our next induction to be held in the fall.

The NAHS provides many wonderful opportunities for students and for sponsors too! There are awards, scholarships, opportunities for publication and more! If you are unfamiliar with the NAEA website page for the NAHS, I would encourage you to check it out at: Further, there is a .Ning group that serves as a support system for NAHS sponsors. This is where all sponsors can go to ask questions, get ideas, and share best practices! If you are a secondary teacher and not yet a part of the NAEA Secondary Division .Ning group, I would encourage you to check us out at: Once registered, you can join the NAHS group.

Finally, if you haven’t met Na'Denna Colbert, NAHS Coordinator, at 703-889-1297 or, I would encourage you to call or e-mail with questions or help in starting your NAHS chapter! Na’Denna is a wealth of information and an invaluable resource to all NAEA sponsors.

-Rebecca Stone-Danahy

Virtual Fireworks!  Photography by Rebecca A. Stone-Danahy

Monday 05.23.11

Focus on the National Art Honor Society

NahsIn 1978, the National Art Education Association began the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) program specifically for high school students, for the purpose of inspiring and recognizing those students who have shown an outstanding ability in art in grades nine through twelve. Each year, thousands of students are inducted into the organization and in fact, at the end of the 2009-2010 school year; NAHS membership peaked at 43,334 total student participants with 1728 active chapters. The benefits to each school that can boast of a NAHS chapter are many. For starters, students are recognized for their work in the school environment and their success as visual art scholars. Second, the structure of the NAHS promotes student leadership and the opportunity for chapters to encourage volunteerism through the visual arts. The NAHS strives to aid members in working toward the attainment of the highest standards in art areas, and to bring art education to the attention of the school and community.

The criteria for membership in the National Art Honor Society emphasize outstanding artistic scholarship and service to the school and community through development of artistic endeavors together with a strong moral character. By exemplifying these standards, the members of the society promote an awareness of art and become active participants in the education process at their school and in their community.

The benefits of hosting a NAHS chapter at any school include:

  • Recognizing students who have shown outstanding ability in the field of art.
  • Serving as an inspiration for students to strive for higher goals in their work.
  • Fostering excellence and a dedicated spirit in the pursuit of art.
  • Encouraging the creative abilities and talents of the individual student.
  • Assisting students in working toward the attainment of their highest potential in the field of art.
  • Bringing art to the attention of the school and community.
  • Increasing the awareness of art as a viable area within the total school curriculum.
  • Advancing aesthetic awareness in all aspects of the total education program.  

The benefits to being a NAHS Sponsor include:

Stay tuned the Focus on National Art Honor Society:  Part Two!

-Rebecca Stone-Danahy

Thursday 05.19.11

Celebrating the Arts: Part Two

School Traditions to Celebrate the Arts!

Forsyth Country Day School has a wonderful tradition of celebrating and showcasing student artwork through the The Purchase Award collection.  The Purchase Award has been given annually for forty-one years to one senior that has created an exemplary artwork that both demonstrates outstanding technical skill and can “speak” to a broad school audience.  The artworks are professionally framed and displayed in the one of the main corridors of the school.

The Purchase Award is also presented annually during the Visual Arts Showcase, a tradition started nine years ago to celebrate the artwork created by the AP and senior students.   The Visual Arts Showcase has evolved from a small gathering of students and parents in the art classroom huddled around the slide projector while a student played music from a cassette player to his/her slides into a multi-media presentation in the school auditorium!  Each year, the AP students finish the AP portfolio and then spend the next week developing a PPT presentation that includes their concentration statement (with an embedded digital recording of their voice to read their statement), their best art work of the year (typically most of their portfolio), a music selection that represents their artwork or concentration theme, and animated transitions between slides.  Once students finalize their presentation, I combine the PPT’s and embed the music to make one giant PPT presentation!   Invitations are sent home for the evening event and parents, students, faculty, administrators, and the school community is invited. 

The Visual Arts Showcase was designed to celebrate the achievements of the students.  Sometimes it is hard to see the breadth and in-depth investigation of student work from random pieces that are displayed in the school hallway.  The showcase has become THE place to see each student’s portfolio.  In general, the PPT presentation plays continuously for about 45 – 50 minutes (seniors have roughly three minutes to present their work – including their narration time) and after the presentation, the art instructors give senior awards and say their final good-byes.  As a parting gift, my seniors receive a framed paintbrush (I literally choose the worst paint brushes to frame!) as a memento for their time spent in the visual arts classroom. 

Last night, I celebrated the work of my students and it is always bittersweet to end the year and say good-bye.  My students have worked incredibly hard and were more than deserving of one night of celebration.

-Rebecca Stone-Danahy


Tuesday 05.17.11

Celebrating the Arts!

Can you believe the end of the school year is in sight? As we wind down the year and try to look for small ways to slow the pace of the day, suddenly awards and end-of-the-year ceremonies only seem to intensify and prolong the marathon spring of April and May! As teachers, we are busy preparing speeches, wrapping senior gifts, writing congratulation cards, finalizing last lessons, and attending banquets and more! At my school, I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to give a senior award for the “Art Student of the Year.” The award is given annually to one senior that exemplifies both hard work and dedication to the visual arts process and program. In general, I look for students that go above and beyond to explore process, investigate, think, play, and imagine! As an example, this year my senior student earned it by spending countless hours writing computer programs that created the vector formulas he needed to then map out and draw optical illusions. Once drawn, he cut the intricate drawings out with an X-acto knife, made stencils, and used spray paint (he purposefully wanted an uncontrollable medium) to layer and build up visual imagery. His entire AP investigation as an artist was focused on creating order out of chaos and he handled the investigation process beautifully! I take the time to write this and explain his process because this student taught me much this year. And, we all have students like this! One of my favorite aspects about being an educator is that I am challenged daily by students that do more, that teach me new information, and force me to learn and grow as a professional and as an artist.

Yesterday, we had our awards ceremony, and I gave the award in front of administrators, faculty, and the upper school student body. I realized over the weekend that I had an awesome opportunity to use the platform to both celebrate the work of the student AND advocate for the arts. Using the NAEA publication, “Learning in a Visual Age: The Critical Importance of Visual Arts Education,” I was able to paraphrase part of the document to illustrate the important thinking that occurs in the visual arts classes. While on stage, I held up the cover of the document, asked the audience to bear with me while I read the third paragraph and then tied it back into the work of the student. What a wonderful platform that was for me to both advocate and celebrate the visual arts all at once!

As you wind down your year, what celebrations do you have at the end of the year? How do you highlight student achievements in the visual arts? And, what do you do that advocates, educates, and celebrates the work of your students?

-Rebecca Stone-Danahy


Friday 05.13.11

Tie and knot and hang on!

"When you think you have reached the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."                                                               –-Thomas Jefferson

If your school year is like mine, May is flying by!  Between grades, awards ceremonies, art shows, wrapping up projects, faculty meetings, student needs, and the general underlying exhaustion that never seems to fade away; this time of year is indeed the end of the rope!

Tie and knot and hang on!

Focus on the positive, creative, abundant, and inspirational.  This month is filled with so many disruptions to the routine that it can make it difficult to feel like much of anything is being accomplished.  But, that is not true!  As our school year winds down, think of the lesson plans that you have completed this year. Consider the student successes that you have had.  And, think about the wonderful array of media that you have most likely covered for your typical student.  As an example, my foundations classes have gone from drawing to paste papers, to making icing colors to demonstrate the color wheel, to wire sculpture, enameling, and now ceramics.  What a whirlwind!  I am very certain that the same can be said of your classes as well.  What have you done this year that is innovative, exciting, rewarding, and creative?

Consider how you can share your lesson plans professionally with your NAEA colleagues (and get published too)!  The two main publishing opportunities that I hope to participate in this summer are:

1. Instructional Resources Gallery:  This is a member benefit for the NAEA membership by NAEA members.  It is sponsored by Artsonia and is an opportunity to professionally publish lesson plans with examples for access by NAEA members only.  To see examples of lesson plans go to: and to learn more about how you can participate go to:  (you will need your NAEA membership to sign in).

2. NAEA is also advertising for teachers to write instructional resources for Art Education magazine. This is a “user-friendly” way for a K-12 teacher to be published, and it usually works well to team up with a local museum art educator to tie-in historical content. Here’s the advertising blurb posted by the NAEA:  Publish in Art Education! Team with a teacher, professor, graduate student/s or museum educator to write for Instructional Resources. This section of each issue combines full-color reproductions of art objects and artworks with content for classroom lesson plan approaches and evaluation objectives. Priority consideration will be given to IRs that discuss innovative contemporary art and/or visual culture exemplars and inventive art teaching methods and strategies.  Email Kathleen Keys, IR Editor ( with your ideas and to discuss how your concept might fit with the considerations of Instructional Resources.  See for complete Instructional Resources Guidelines.

Take a moment to celebrate your accomplishments and consider how your creative lessons can be shared with others!

-Rebecca Stone-Danahy 


Morgan B. Music Illustration ala Stuart Davis.  Acrylic on Stonehenge Paper.  22” x 27”.  Forsyth Country Day School, Lewisville, NC.  2011

Wednesday 05.11.11

NAEA Advisory

As the Editor of the NAEA Advisory, I can’t resist the shameless plug to promote writing for the now online publication.  Did you see it released yesterday?  You can find the first online edition at:  The NAEA Advisory provides practical information on current issues, interests, and concerns. Topics for Advisory should be aimed at translating research and theory into practice for the K-12 NAEA member.

As a K-12 educator, I strongly encourage other K-12 teachers to submit papers! Topics might include strategies for instruction and student learning; strategies for classroom organization and behavior management; assessment procedures related to art learning; incorporation of the National Visual Arts Standards into existing state and local curricula; alternative methods for teaching using technology; art instruction and higher-order thinking; issues related to teacher preparation; the incorporation of multiple-intelligences theories; conducting research in the art classroom; instructional practices in other cultures; and, art instruction in community contexts.   Truly, the list is endless!  Consider how the work that you do in your classroom everyday, can translate into practical application for your art education colleagues.

As a starting point, make it a habit to read the publication, Art Education: The Journal of the National Art Education Association when it is received bimonthly.  Further, consider paying the additional $20.00 for your annual membership to receive Studies in Art Education: A Journal of Issues and Research.  This is a quarterly journal that reports quantitative, qualitative, historical, and philosophical research in art education, including explorations of theory and practice in the areas of art production, art criticism, aesthetics, art history, human development, curriculum and instruction, and assessment.  One other publication of interest might be Translations: From Theory to PracticeTranslations is a biannual refereed publication, distributed as a service to all NAEA members.  Translations publishes reviews of research that make research understandable and usable in the P-12 practice of teaching art.

Frankly, I know how hard it is to find the time to read above and beyond the basics in the life of a teacher!  It is not easy to balance all that we do on a day-to-day basis AND work selflessly to promote art education.  However, our calling as educators is to further the cause of art education by not just what happens in our classrooms but for how we can serve each other through our wisdom, intellect, and practical application of best practices.  In the next few publications of the Advisory, I am interested in obtaining more articles from our members on the following topics:  advancing as a professional (this could include advanced degrees and professional development), the role of the arts in early childhood education, and current issues and trends in museum education.  That being said, regardless of your theme or article idea, I would love to hear from you!  Please send your digital submissions to:   

Papers submitted to the Advisory should be no longer than 3-5 pages double-spaced including references (700-1000 words). APA (6th edition) style is preferred. Refer to recent NAEA Advisory copies for the sense of organization and style or contact me at for more details!  I look forward to hearing from you.

-Rebecca Stone-Danahy

Monday 05. 9.11

Get Published!

There are many ways for us to share our wisdom, knowledge, research, and best practices with colleagues through one or more of the many NAEA publications.  As we end the school year and take the summer to reflect on our teaching practices, consider how a best practice, lesson, sequence of teaching, or inspirational “aha” moments can be shared with colleagues!  I often hear from colleagues that “they just don’t feel comfortable writing” or that “they are just not good at it.”  Yet, often, these colleagues have the most inspirational lessons or classrooms!  Whether you think you are good at writing or not, consider that your classroom, your lessons, and your knowledge and wisdom is worthy!  The publication process need not be a frightening experience.  Pair up with a colleague this summer, share your ideas, and consider how you could submit a paper, article, good news event, or lesson plan for publication!

Did you know that you could have a book published by the NAEA? 
Have an idea for a book for art educators? If you are ready to share your expertise, research and methodologies, approaches to studio pedagogy and strategies, and information about professional collaborations that may advance visual arts education perspectives for the education community at large, NAEA invites you to submit a book proposal to the Professional Materials Committee (PMC).

Studies in Art Education:
Studies in Art Education is a quarterly journal that reports quantitative, qualitative, historical, and philosophical research in art education, including explorations of theory and practice in the areas of art production, art criticism, aesthetics, art history, human development, curriculum and instruction, and assessment. Studies also publishes reports of applicable research in related fields such as anthropology, education, psychology, philosophy, and sociology.

Art Education: The Journal of the National Art Education Association Art Education, the bimonthly journal of the National Art Education Association, covers a diverse range of topics of interest to professional art educators-topics especially relevant to everyday practice-whether in a classroom, museum, community arts center, or elsewhere. Successful model programs or curriculums are often described and point to replicable ideas that may be adapted and implemented by other teachers. Each issue features a full-color illustrated lesson plan in the Instructional Resources section.

Translations: From Theory to Practice
Translations is a biannual refereed publication, distributed as a service to all NAEA members. Translations publishes reviews of research that make research understandable and usable in the P-12 practice of teaching art.

NAEA Advisory
Similar to Translations, the NAEA Advisory is also provided to NAEA members as a free member benefit. Topics for Advisories should be aimed at translating research and theory into practice for the K-12 NAEA member.
K-12 teachers are encouraged to submit papers. Topics might include strategies for instruction and student learning; strategies for classroom organization and behavior management; assessment procedures related to art learning; incorporation of the National Visual Arts Standards into existing state and local curricula; alternative methods for teaching using technology; art instruction and higher-order thinking; issues related to teacher preparation; the incorporation of multiple-intelligences theories; conducting research in the art classroom; instructional practices in other cultures; and, art instruction in community contexts.

NAEA News the official newsletter for the members of NAEA, is published bimonthly in February, April, Summer (July), October, and December. It reports to members on what is happening throughout the organization as well as in the field of art education-within every teaching level, geographic region, and interest group.
Columnists present timely news topics regarding upcoming conferences and events, trends and policies, and share information on member and group activities. Columns are 850 words and are due the 12th of the month 2 months before an issue, i.e., February 12 for April issue.
Members are encouraged to send news of their accomplishments, awards, promotions, new books, gallery showings of their artworks, or other announcements for the "People in the News" column. (About 150 words).

The NAEA Instruction Resources Gallery:
A special collection of lesson/unit plans curated by NAEA professionals and available only to NAEA members!   Consider submitting your lesson plan today!

-Rebecca Stone-Danahy

Friday 05. 6.11

A Lesson in Sharing

Many secondary teachers across the country this week are finalizing the AP portfolio exams with their students.  As I surveyed my classroom today, I marveled at the fact that I could sustain a week of senior art students camped out in my classroom while still maintaining order and the energy to teach my full teaching schedule.  I marvel at this because a few years ago, the pace of this week might have put me over the edge.  And, I know that I am not alone!  This juggling act is something that many of us have learned to do it very, very well.   For me, I know that the sense of community, sharing, and words of wisdom that I have received through publications such as the NAEA Advisory, School Arts magazine, the listserve for the AP College Board, the Art Education Journal, and most recently the NAEA Ning site for secondary art educators have been instrumental in helping me plan, prepare, and feel empowered to manage more.  When we as educators take the time to share our successes, our musings, our creative problem solving, our amazing lessons, and good, plain common sense - we propel each other forward!  No matter how small, we all have wonderful accomplishments and stories to share.  Truly, I cannot count the times that I have gleaned ideas and best practices from the articles or writings from my national and international colleagues.  I am forever grateful to those that have taken the time to write and publish and the impact that it has had on my career.

There are countless ways that we can share and collaborate as an art education community!  From Facebook to .Ning to publications to presentations at the state and national level, our support for each other furthers the profession of art education.  Think about your week this week and what you have done to enhance student learning.  Think about your philosophy for art education, the wonderful lessons that you have taught, or the “aha!” moment that either you or a student had (or both!).  Consider how you could use your experiences to teach a colleague by writing, publishing, and sharing with others.  Consider sending a proposal to present at your next state art education conference or for the NAEA Convention (due May 15).  You never know how your words will further the career of someone else. 

-Rebecca Stone-Danahy

Wednesday 05. 4.11

Sharing our Teaching Moments

In the world of education, our greatest friend and foe is time.  I often tell my students that good art equals time and there is no way around it.  Regardless of talent, drive, or motivation, if a student wants to be successful in the arts, he/she needs to put the time in.  So it is with teaching!  As we rush around to write lesson plans, prepare supplies, grade, attend meetings, sponsor events, shows, clubs, and organizations, answer e-mails, return phone calls, set-up and clean-up, supervise lunch and car pool duty (and any other duty assigned therein) meet with students, display art, and generally assist in all things art related – it’s a wonder how we make it through the day!  Despite all of this, when the students enter our room and the door is closed, we have the opportunity to share our passion about the arts and this is when the “magic” happens.   And, what happens to that magic when the students leave?  Does it disappear never to be seen again?    

In the haste of the day, I challenge all art educators to take a moment to share the magic.  Be not afraid to e-mail a parent, administrator, or colleague to describe the events of the classroom and share student successes.   Sometimes, a few short paragraphs that celebrate our teaching moments are all it takes to propel our enthusiasm and passion for the arts forward.  Despite the hectic pace of the day, take the time to celebrate the small victories of “aha! moments, creative inspirations, and visual accomplishments that were seemingly impossible!

Get into the habit of writing.  By celebrating and sharing our teaching moments with others – a wonderful thing happens along the way – we learn to advocate.  When we take the time to share our joy, our thoughtfulness, our plans, dreams, and creative accomplishments in the classroom – we have the capacity to inspire others to do more.   

-Rebecca Stone-Danahy