Connecting with Educators across the State

Our recent Educators Night Out at the Hickory Museum of Art brought together 105 teachers for an evening of food, drinks, music, art making, engaging speakers, prizes, and more. As part of a statewide effort to serve educators throughout North Carolina, this event provided another opportunity for the NCMA’s BIG PICTURE educator enrichment program to collaborate with teachers and organizations outside of Raleigh, with attendees coming from six counties in the region (Ashe, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Iredell).

For six months leading up to the event, we worked with teachers and community members from Hickory and the surrounding area as part of an advisory council. This group served a critical role in the process of planning and promoting the event.

On Thursday, April 21, from 4 to 7 pm, the Hickory Museum of Art served as a dynamic site for the Educators Night Out, with its captivating collection and exhibitions. Hands-on activities encouraged attendees to create; gallery discussions sparked ideas for classroom conversations with works of art; and the short-format presentations offered multiple perspectives answering the overarching question “Why the arts?”

Kathryn Greathouse, executive director of the United Arts Council of Catawba County , spoke about the history of the SALT Block and the renovation of the old Claremont High School, in which the Hickory Museum of Art is located. Contemporary artist Tom Shields’s presentation explored the importance of community, problem solving, and critical thinking in his artistic processes, especially in regard to his recent experience as the artist in residence at Century Furniture in Hickory. From Hickory Public Schools, Tonya Scott and Alison Willard (curriculum coordinator/math teacher and art teacher, respectively) discussed the value of collaboration between the classroom teacher and the art teacher, highlighting the potential for integrating the arts. Emily Kotecki, distance learning educator at the NCMA, joined the group via live videoconference from the NCMA’s American Gallery in Raleigh. Demonstrating the capabilities of the new mobile gallery cart, Kotecki interacted with the audience and examined the role of the museum in teaching and learning. Her presentation offered possibilities for reaching statewide audiences (teachers, students, and more!) with this exciting new technology.

Being in Hickory was a great opportunity for connecting with educators face-to-face, sharing our resources, and building meaningful partnerships. We’ll continue to explore new opportunities and try out new ways of connecting with teachers across the state in the coming year.

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The presentations were excellent. Not only did I learn more about our local art museum and the opportunities available through the North Carolina Museum of Art, but also gained some insight into integration of arts from art teachers. The presentations were engaging and inspirational.

Being able to see what the North Carolina Museum of Art has to offer and being among fellow teachers. It felt nice to be treated like valued professionals.

This event was awesome. I gained information that I can use with my students.

Using technology to do live tours of the Museum was the next best thing to being there! Logistically, I think more teachers benefited, because the NCMA was able to come to us. It only took a few people to bring the Museum to a great number of art teachers. I think the positive interaction may have caused many of the teachers who participated to fall in love with the NCMA! Thank you for reaching out to the teachers of North Carolina at a time when there are increased demands on classroom teachers, and taking the time out of busy schedules to travel across our state to visit the Museum in person is almost impossible.

Scaling Up: Data and Education Technology (Part 2)

This blog post is part of a series: our thought partners who were not able to attend the Future of Learning summit were asked to create video responses to questions related to the panel discussion.

Robert Stein is a museum leader, technology expert, and strategist with more than 10 years of experience heading innovative projects and diverse teams. Stein has pioneered the adoption of open-source tools for the museum community and created the world’s first incentive-based loyalty program for visitor engagement. Stein is an author, speaker, and consultant, focusing on the impact museums can have in their community, how technology efforts can change the dynamic of museum innovation, and how metrics and measurement can drive continuous improvement for the practice of museums.

In his video below, Stein discusses advances in educational technology that influence the future of learning in museums.

Scaling Up: Data and Education Technology (Part1)

This blog post is part of a series: our thought partners who were not able to attend the Future of Learning summit were asked to create video responses to questions related to the panel discussion.

Kyle Jaebker is a tech specialist in Indianapolis, formerly director of the IMA Lab at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Jaebker’s work spans from web and on-site interactives to mobile. Jaebker has a passion for using open-source tools and the latest technologies to solve complex problems. In the video below, Jaebker responds to these questions:

  • How have recent innovations in education technology enhanced students’ and teachers’ ability (and capacity) to do their work?
  • What ed tech projects are you most proud to see taking place at your institution?
  • What trends do you anticipate shaping the next 20 years of education technology? Why?


Choose Your Own Path to PD

Need CEUs? Looking for some classroom or personal inspiration? Want to find a way to make it all fit into your busy personal and professional life?

The Big Picture is offering a unique experience to educators across the state to support the need for quality professional development that is easily accessible, is relevant to the classroom, and deepens connections to art. This spring we are Exploring the Concept of Place through Art  through an online course and an in-person workshop. Choose to participate by selecting the path that works for you and your needs.

Path 1: Online Course. Work at your own pace through five modules of engagement. Complete the activities within each module for credit, or simply explore the resources. Each module earns .1 credit in Art or Literacy. Course content will be available March 15–April 18, 2016.

Path 2: In-Person Workshop. Join us at the NCMA on Saturday, March 19, from 10:15 am to 4:15 pm for a workshop that will include a curator’s tour of American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals, discussion with contemporary artist Greg Lindquist, and a studio experience with artist/educator Emily Soldin Howard. Onsite workshop earns .5 CEU in Art or Literacy.

Path 3: Online Course + In-Person Workshop. Join us online and onsite to earn 1 CEU. Access to the online community will be available for five weeks.

In each of the paths, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Hear from working artists
  • Create your own art
  • Explore works of art with Museum curators
  • Develop a portfolio of art integration strategies
  • Connect with educators from across the state.

Through this blended PD experience, educators from across the state will have access to the resources and workshops the NCMA has to offer. Both the online and onsite experiences will help educators identify intersections of art, science, history, and language arts through artist discussions, art making, gallery discussions, and other activities. Our goal is to support and promote teacher collaboration and critical reflection through this experience. Furthermore, by using new tools for distance learning, we hope to reach a broader audience and provide new modes of engagement that deepen participants’ connections with art and the content they teach.

#NCMAcreate Live Chat

Join us on Friday, March 4 at 2pm EST to discuss how museums can prototype solutions for schools and teachers in a rapidly changing educational environment.

Through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), our museum is conducting a two-year investigation into the changing needs of classrooms and students and into the unique role of art museums in today’s educational environment. We are using a STEM-based art-infused design process to ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve solutions for tomorrow’s learners.

Through this hangout, we’ll share how we developed a framework to address top needs that were identified during the ask phase. We will share the ten prototypes we are currently piloting during the create phase.

Join us for a live video and Twitter chat on Friday, March 4, 2-2:30pm. We’ll be hosting this live chat using a software called ZOOM – the initial use of Zoom requires a quick, easy addition of a plug in and is very user friendly once installed. When you’re ready to join by videoconference, click on this link. You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #NCMAcreate. We look forward to you joining the chat!


Rebecca Klemm: Let students learn in their own way

This blogpost is part of a series where our thought partners who were not able to attend the Future of Learning Summit were asked to create video responses to a variety of questions related to the panel discussion.

In the video below, Rebecca Klemm, founder of NumbersAlive!, submitted the following video response when asked, “How has your work helped students navigate the sometimes difficult path between learning what they need to know and inspiring them to create and take ownership of their ideas?”


During the Q&A portion of the panel, a student in the audience who is also a member of our Teen Arts Council, shared her experience with a teacher who made learning AP Calculus engaging and relevant to her.

“I’m bad at math, that’s why I love art so much, but I’m in an AP Calculus BC course and I’m doing well in it because my teacher knows how to create an environment where I can learn the way that’s best for me. For example, I made a music video about calculus. Instead of Take me to Church by Hozier, [we created a video called] “Take me to Calc.”
This student exemplifies the idea that Rebecca talks about in her video that encourages educators to let students learn in the way that works best for them in order to create meaningful learning experiences.

Hank Willis Thomas: Artists and Educators

This blogpost is part of a series where our thought partners who were not able to attend the Future of Learning Summit were asked to create video responses to a variety of questions related to the panel discussion.

In the videos below, our thought partner Hank Willis Thomas, a contemporary artist based in New York, responded to these questions:

  • Reflect on the role that art (contemporary art in particular) can play in shaping student learning.
  • How might the exchange between contemporary artists/educators/students inspire visionary educational practices?

His videos were shown as an introduction to a conversation focused on the role of community in innovative ed practice.



NCMA Hosts Future of Learning Summit

Over the past year, we’ve been using this blog to document the process (Ask-Imagine-Plan-Create-Improve) behind our IMLS planning grant on the role of museums in next-generation learning. On Saturday, January 30 (after a week’s delay due to weather), we held a Thought Partner Summit and Future of Learning Panel discussion to reflect on the work we’ve done so far and prepare for the final stretch of our grant. Our thought partner group consists of national leaders in the fields of education, museums, and technology.

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In the morning, our collaborative planning team of P-16 educators from across the state met with the thought partners. Working in affinity groups, they shared ideas about teacher professional development, experiences for students that happen online and onsite, and participatory gallery spaces. Thought partners helped groups become aware of potential models for programs, recognize gaps in our planning, and find connections between prototype ideas.

We invited the public to join the discourse in a lively panel discussion that afternoon. Sylvea Hollis, program manager with the Center for the Future of Museums, moderated a panel featuring Corey Madden (executive director of the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts), Matthew Rascoff (vice president for technology-based learning and innovation for the UNC system), and Dr. Keith Sawyer (Morgan Professor of Educational Innovation in the School of Education at UNC–Chapel Hill). Hank Willis Thomas, Dr. Rebecca Klemm, and Rob Stein contributed reflections via video. Topics included the role of community in innovative ed practices, embracing needs-based change, and data and education technology. Audience members participated by responding to real-time poll questions on these topics and had the opportunity to ask questions of panelists. A link to the full panel discussion can be accessed below. In the coming days, we will post additional footage and extended thought partner responses to each topic.

Future of Learning panel discussion.





2015-16 Big Picture Fellows

The Big Picture offers a yearlong fellowship to educators interested in developing their skills and understanding of art integration. We’re thrilled to introduce this year’s teams of educators who were selected this summer. In their own words, they describe where and what they teach and answer one of the following questions:

  • Why are the arts essential to what you teach?
  • What do you hope to get out of the fellowship?
  • What is your favorite work of art from the NCMA collection, and why?

Erin Gannon

unnamedSince 1997, I have served as a classroom teacher in grades two through five. For the first 15 years of my career, I worked primarily in charter schools in Southern California, specializing in inquiry and Project Based Learning. I currently teach at a local STEM school and am a member of the WCPSS Teacher Leader Corps. As a National Faculty member for Buck Institute for Education, I facilitate PBL workshops for teachers of grades K-12 across the United States. I am currently a third grade teacher at Hilburn Academy in Raleigh.

My favorite work of art at NCMA is Askew, one of the sculptures found on the grounds just outside the museum. Though sculpture isn’t generally the kind of art that moves me, I am always very drawn to this piece. With the varied weather here in Raleigh, the tree seems to be ever changing. I love that it is, all at once, both powerful and delicate; imposing and inviting.

Elissa Walker

headshot (1)

I am a third grade teacher at Hilburn Academy in Raleigh. I graduated from UNCW in 2013 and moved back to the city I proudly call home. I have loved to doodle, paint, and draw since I was a kid so I consider myself lucky that I am able incorporate it into my career as a teacher! 

My favorite piece of art from the NCMA collection is Rabble. I just love all of the colors and the subtle transition from flowers to butterflies. I find myself gazing upwards every time I visit the museum! 


Beth Rhyne

photo (4)I currently teach Physical Science at Cleveland High School.  I have been teaching Science for 26 years, 12 years in high school and 14 years in middle school.  The art I have used in my classes up to this point has all been student generated and related to class projects.  Usually in the form of illustrating a scientific principle we are studying in class.

I never considered using specific art to illustrate the principles or generate ideas for student work.  I am hoping that through Big Picture I will be able to introduce topics and art work that my students may otherwise not be exposed.


Gail Clougherty

IMG_1466I teach Earth/ Environmental Science at Cleveland High School in Clayton. I use many forms of art in my science classes because it helps students to make deeper connections. The art makes them look closely and think about the details. These are skills that make them better scientists. This fellowship is helping me learn new ways to integrate art and science.



Lisa Schnitzler & Cheri Williams

IMG_8852 (1)My name is Lisa Schnitzler(left) and I teach visual art at Williston Middle School in Wilmington, N.C. I think my favorite piece of work at the museum is Thomas Hart Benton’s painting, Spring on the Missouri. Every time I see it I am so sucked in to the action and color in the piece. The light and movement are amazing, and having spent many years in the mid west, it reminds me of the folks I met out there and their practical nature. The painting can go in either of two directions-is the storm coming, or is it leaving? I wish the museum could acquire another of his works!

My name is Cheri Williams(right) and I teach math at Williston Middle School in Wilmington,  NC. Through the Big Picture fellowship,  I hope to gain a better understanding of art integration in the middle  school math classroom and how arts integration can build understanding and encourage engagement in my class. As a math teacher,  I have always been drawn to M.C.Escher’s art, so this year’s Big Picture fellowship worked perfectly into my ideal collaborative opportunity with my teammate and art teacher,  Lisa Schnitzler.

Educators Night Out in Elizabeth City

On Thursday, October 29, the Big Picture hosted an event at the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, called Educators Night Out: Make and Mingle with the North Carolina Museum of Art. We welcomed 59 teachers representing six counties in North Carolina and a range of subject areas and grade levels.

The evening was an exciting opportunity to reach out to teachers in the northeast region of the state and to say thank you for all of the hard work they are doing, as well as a fun way to support and inspire them to integrate the arts into their teaching. And after having to postpone the event because of the potential of flooding from Hurricane Joaquin in early October, we were so thankful for the sunny skies and beautiful weather.

With live music in the background and food and drink to keep them going, the teachers mingled, tried out some of the hands-on drop-in activities, and gathered information from local organizations as part of the Resource Fair.

The presentations were a highlight of the evening. Through a PechaKucha-style experience, we heard several voices responding to the prompt “Why the Arts?” Showing 20 slides for 20 seconds each, each presentation whirled through an exploration of the power of the arts to affect the classroom and the community. We got to hear about the significant role of arts in the community and their effect on the local economy from Katie Murray, executive director of Arts of the Albemarle. Valerie Person and Anita Rubino, an English language arts teacher and a visual arts teacher at Currituck County High School, led us to consider the power of the arts to unlock untold stories. And Vickie Turner, a science teacher at Moyock Middle, made us wonder how you can teach science without the arts by revealing the many ways she integrates art into her science classes.

The evening brought together many voices, all united by a shared understanding of the power of the arts to make a difference in our classrooms and communities. Through events like these, we are able to gain a deeper understanding of an area of the state and to continue to build stronger relationships with educators statewide.