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 24, 2016

What is your art department’s mission?

From: Frank Juarez

This will be my last blog post as your February Monthly Mentor. I would like to thank Linda Scott for inviting me to be a part of this art experience and to the National Art Education Association for creating this platform for educators to share what is happening across the country in our classrooms.


For the past month I have been sharing my thoughts on ideas focusing on technology integration, types of art programs, promotion, and advocacy. These thoughts have been tested and proven to be successful. It is important to be patient, reflective, open minded, and flexible.


I would like to share with you a story about how I came to the conclusion that art is what I wanted to dedicate my life to. I was taking a bus from Chicago to Milwaukee from a 2-week art program at SAIC. On the bus I was reading, “The Artist’s Guide: How to make a living doing what you love”, by Jackie Battenfield. I came across an exercise in her book where she asked to write your obituary. I was reluctant to write it simply because it was a bit creepy. I decided to do it anyways since I had about an hour and half on the bus.


What I found interesting is that I was able to focus on myself, come up with personal goals, and the deep question I asked myself is if I left this earth what would I leave as my legacy? Now, you do not have to go to this extreme when you think about your art department’s mission, however, there are a lot of similarities and what I have learned from doing this exercise is that it was easier to make decisions that could advance the mission of Sheboygan North High School art department. If an opportunity did not compliment what we designed as our road map, then we did not pursue it.


Our mission states, ‘The mission of the North High Art Department is to create and nurture a learning environment that will stimulate risk-taking, originality, and collaboration through the use of 21st Century Skills in both studio practice and communication”. We have discovered this allowed us to focus on what we felt would help make our students successful through curriculum development, opportunities for community outreach, designing innovative art resources, working with other art teachers, and bringing the artists into the classroom via Skype.


If we approach our departments with a plan on what we view as relevant and beneficial and commit to our students, then it doesn’t matter where we teach. We DO make a difference.


I hope that this month allowed you to take a closer look at how you are running your art classroom and/or art department. As you are aware, there are so many components involved in running a successful art department. I welcome you to contact me if you have questions or comments at



Keep rocking’ it wherever you are!

Web Resources:
North High Art Department:
Frank Juarez:
Frank Juarez Gallery:
Frank Juarez Presentations:
Frank Juarez Paintings:
Midwest Artist Studios:
365 Artists 365 Days Project:


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