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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February 19, 2016

The Power of Advocacy

From: Frank Juarez

When I first started teaching back in 2000, I had no idea of what advocacy meant or what it looked like. It wasn’t until I joined my state art education association in 2003 that I began to see it in action. To me, advocacy means to share the benefits of art education and how experiences contribute to the social, emotional, mental, and creative development of my students. In my post titled, If you do not promote your art program, who will?, I mentioned that there is a difference between promotion and advocacy. Promotion is about the ‘what’ ranging from a classroom blog, press releases to the local newspaper, letterhead, logo, department news, etc. Advocacy is about the ‘how’ and taking that extra step by presenting at your school board meeting about your students’ successes, addressing specific needs you have in the classroom, writing articles for art education publications, etc.

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When I started teaching I never imagined that I would be in this situation where I can make a difference in my school. The journey starts with a vision. One person can truly make that difference if you believe in yourself. Whatever you decide to do don’t be that person that always complains about everything. Instead, focus on what you can change. Share all of the amazing things you are doing. When you put your students first, advocating becomes easier. 

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Like many of you, I am passionate about what I teach and my philosophy on art education has changed drastically in response to the experiences I have had both in and outside of the classroom. I have found that ‘change’ is a great thing and it starts with YOU.

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Web Resources:
SchoolArts Magazine: schoolartsdigital.com
North High Art Department: nhsartdept.com

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