Monthly Mentor

Frank Juarez (May)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Juarez is a gallery director, award-winning art educator, artist, author, advocate, and community arts leader living and working in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He is currently the art department chair at Sheboygan North High School, gallery director of The Frank Juarez Gallery, and contributing editor of SchoolArts Magazine. Click "GO" to read his full bio.



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September 01, 2018

Professional Development + Travel = Planning Vacations That Also Benefit You Professionally

From Chapin Schnick

One of the things colleagues say about me the most is that I’m always traveling. What they may not always realize is that most of the time that I spend traveling, I have built a vacation around my true destination of professional development workshops & conferences. Below I will share some of my favorite PD trips over the past several years, along with some of my tried and true resources for finding your perfect PD getaway*. 

Summer 2012 - Summer 2013 MA in Art Education at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, MD - My Masters program in Baltimore is when I caught the professional development travel bug (which has become even more pronounced in recent years). I loved taking day or weekend trips, when classes weren’t in session, down to the Inner Harbour, Federal Hill, Fells Point, Hampden, or enjoying what Bolton Hill (where MICA’s campus is located) had to offer.

2013 NAEA Convention, Dallas, Texas - This was my first opportunity to present at a national conference, following encouragement from my peers and professors in the Masters of Art in Art Education program at MICA to submit a proposal. I was able to present on the findings of my qualitative research study for which I had posed the question, “In what ways do highly engaged students and non-engaged students’ values and beliefs about art and art making differ in an eighth-grade art class?”

Schnick - 2013 NAEA MICA MAAE Representatives2013 NAEA MICA MAAE Representatives

2016 Biennial Kappa Delta Pi Convention, Orlando, Florida - I was fortunate enough to work as a Regional Chapter Coordinator for KDP during a year that the staff was planning their biennial conference.  In addition to presenting to chapter leaders and attending sessions, I as able to extend my time to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather and a family-owned condo with my husband who flew down to meet me.

Summer 2016 SCAD Educator Forum, Savannah, Georgia - One of the few road trips I’ve completed with a companion: a fellow art teacher who now lives in Portland, Oregon. This is truly a one-of-a-kind PD, as it is all-inclusive, if you choose to pay the additional residential fee.  One low cost covered many meals and receptions, two ongoing classes during the week, and lodging in comfortable on-campus dorms.

Summer 2016 NAEA National Leadership Conference, Arlington, Virginia - I was fortunate enough to be welcomed to this leadership conference, despite not being a current state association leader. I learned a lot about my personality and leadership style, and especially appreciated the chance to visit the NAEA Headquarters for the first time. I saved a TON of money by staying at an AirBnB vs. the conference hotel.


Schnick - 2017 NAEA NYC Time Square Twirling2017 NAEA NYC Time Square Twirling

2017 NAEA Convention, New York City, New York - This was only my second trip ever to New York City, which meant I had a lot of the “touristy” type things out of my system the first time around. I was able to visit several amazing locally-recommended restaurants as well as visit local museums and see Broadway shows, including my favorite, and most-relevant-to-an-art-trip, show: “Sundays in the Park with George” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, who happens to be one of my favorite actors.

Summer 2017 NAEA SummerStudio Design Thinking for Social Equity, Dallas, Texas - It was a lot of fun to visit Dallas for a second time, but this time was far more intimate an experience, since there were fewer than fifty NAEA members in the SummerStudio Design Thinking group. This was an intense few days of workshops, my favorite being the focus on using game design & theory in curriculum planning.

2018 NAEA Convention, Seattle, Washington - This trip was especially amazing because I built in additional trips to notable cities along the way, despite it not being a road trip. I initially flew to Seattle for the full conference so that I could present and attend other sessions. On the Sunday following the conference, I took a train to Portland to enjoy local experiences and restaurants, including getting to visit with the aforementioned SCAD Educator Forum road trip friend, and planned a layover in Denver to spend a couple of days to round out my Spring Break.

Schnick - 2018 NAEA Presentation2018 NAEA Presentation

My favorite resources for seeking out PD and planning vacations:

  • Word of mouth from colleagues: whether it be your local Professional Learning Community (PLC), or through art education-themed pages and groups on social media, your best resource for beneficial PD are others that have experienced or sought it out, as well: your fellow art education colleagues.
  • State Art Education Association: If traveling out of state isn’t in your immediate plans, checking in with your state art education association can provide you with suggestions for local opportunities.
  • Trip Advisor & Yelp: I especially love these sites/ apps as they are user-submitted. People just like you and me give their honest opinion about experiences, restaurants, and lodging, while traveling.
  • AirBnB: When possible, I do prefer to support local business owners by seeking out true Bed & Breakfasts, but I often end up in an AirBnB because 1) many are highly affordable, and 2) there are far more options to find sleeping arrangements local to my conference or workshops.
  • Hostels:  Contrary to many opinions on hostels, there are truly remarkable ones available, especially in larger cities. Imagine the accommodations of a luxury hotel, but with comfortable bunks “cold-air” style and at a fraction of the cost. (For example, the hostels I stayed at in Seattle, Portland, Denver, New York City, and Baltimore were all $40 or less per night but better than most 3-5 star hotels in which I have stayed.) I typically find these via a search on Google Maps (search for “hostel” in your travel destination).


*I am personally not big into “tourist traps” when traveling as I would prefer not to experience places and events surrounded by a ton of selfie-taking strangers, but also because I can see those things in pictures. I like to do a little more research on blogs (that I find via an internet search on my desired topic) and by checking out Yelp & Trip Advisor reviews to see what locals really find to be of value and worth my time.



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