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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Thursday 10.19.17

Ready for a Challenge? – How we find (make) our Pearls

From: Suzanne Goulet


Draw, write, go to that magical place in your imagination (day dream), are but some of the options if presented with a less-than-inspirational environment.

It is my belief that if you are bored, then you have missed an opportunity.

Maybe it is time to... ?


Connect with an Artist Educator – Open Your Studio Classroom

Loco Parentis.

Yes, your school law radar just went off. Working with an artist educator is like inviting the world adventuring aunt or uncle of your family. They are relations, but there is freshness and authenticity that enforces the purpose of our mission.

Tim Christensen is a Maine artist and ceramicist with experience with studio classrooms. Tim has facilitated individual and collaborative student creations. His most recent personal adventures involve illustrating a working trans-Pacific voyage on a cargo ship to Australia, and embracing the chaos of wood firing.


Who is the “voyageur” artist educator that comes to mind when you think of courage, and embraces the journey? What are the ways you foster perseverance?

Make a Commitment every week to Contemporary Art or Design

Share with students the art and design works of “today.” Authentic and real, these are great vehicles for students to get a bearing of where and what Art and Design is in the world.

Ai Weiwei’s NYC installations, new advertising campaigns (L.L. Bean’s, “Be an Outsider”), the illustration (and content) of the Ken Burn’s Vietnam documentary, and cosplay are avenues that can provide launching points for media literacy, introduction, and process.

This requires a component in your curriculum (and fluency) that accommodates the power of dynamics. Look for the connections. See the supporting pathways.

Engage with the NAEA National Convention in Seattle – An Oyster Shell

Nick Cave is our featured guest at the National Convention. An opportunity for connections to contemporary art and design, and an adventure in learning and sharing best practices with others.


Challenge yourself to attend the National Convention – to make pearls with the wisdom of your peers.


Learn more about the 2018 NAEA National Convention here.


Wednesday 10.11.17

Trying to Make Sense of it all – Why We Need to Connect (and Play).

From: Suzanne Goulet

I had a plan.

… A plan for how this NAEA Monthly Mentor blog opportunity would create questions for us to ponder our choices in the classroom. How ideas and discoveries that we share can propel our mission through the month of October.

Then the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival mass shooting shocked and bewildered us... and continues to do so.

The plan changed… in purpose


We are Stronger Together – We move Forward

The direction has not changed. What is different is the journey. Same path… but now altered. We try to work the logic. (Logic? Really?) We remember the names, and the faces. We connect.

Mary Dunn, a dear 5th grade colleague at the Hall School in Waterville, Maine, teaches us all with a lesson in empathy and getting-to-it-ness. How we can, we must, make these events in to lessons that we learn from, to reflect on - to feel for our students, to help them to grow, for our mission to thrive.

The forwarding of an article, and the posing of a question made us stronger, because of a shared experience. Mary got us to think about how we can work together to help our students… our community.

(the article that Mary shared... an argument for play… among other points)

Our journey forever changed.


The Mountains you have Moved – How, Why and with Whom?

What is something that you have come together with colleagues to forward/defend/change?

Consider the crystallizing moment that inspired you to action?

Who is your most cherished/surprising education ally/advocate?

You are a reflective educator, understanding of complex processes engaged on the journey to understanding and discovery, for your students, you, and your community.

You are connected.



Monday 10. 2.17

Plan for Success, Prepare for Greatness, and Leave Room for Play.

From: Suzanne Goulet

This summer I knew I was doing two things: be in the presence of the world’s tallest tree and stand in the path of totality for the Great American Eclipse.

These magnificent and amazing events did occur, but what also made up the summer of 2017, and how they happen are integral to my professional practice.

Planning and preparing

Locating Hyperion (tree), watching weather, knowing the path, and some late pre-eclipse evening magic made experiencing and sharing totality an amazing event in Hillsboro, Missouri.           


Research pays great dividends for accomplishing goals.

We have goals for our students. We know where we want to help guide them. Utilizing research and learning best practices is an ongoing part of this preparation.

A number of years ago I committed (plan and prepare) to making an annual donation to the National Art Education Foundation (NAEF) to support this research and the funding of innovation. Please consider this mindful and significant practice when renewing your professional membership.     


Play is powerful

The journey always starts in upper-right-hand corner, USA (Maine). The 2017 adventure started with dynamic, relevant, and engaging art education professional development and art making with Team East (Eastern Region) colleagues. Hosted by Maryland AEA and AE District of Columbia, this was a creative start. Regional Leadership Conferences are always unique in delivery and content – make a plan to play together.   


Travel is by vehicle (SAV – Sanity Assault Vehicle), Hyperion is in northern California, so I headed west on I-70

Education takes a lot of energy. Effective practice takes a lot of planning and research. Play allows for benefits of what we did not plan/anticipate to occur. Celebrate this for yourself, and your students.

The Flight 93 Memorial, star engulfed soaks in hot springs with wild burros, beholding feeding Humpback whales from the Golden Gate, celebrating gatherings with family and friends, re-discovering forgotten NV boomtowns, and taking in the Center for Sonic Arts (check it out) played in to the days of summer.

Doing more research on Sonic Arts…and innovative ways to incorporate visual art, media and design…with my students.

To see and hear The Tank.

The play continues...

The Tank