Welcome teachers and artists! I am the arts consultant for the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).
I have spent my life on various stages, rotating from singing in my elementary school’s winter program to 1st violin in the community youth orchestra, piano recitals at the local university and conducting my own students in various concerts and performances.
Coming from the Nashville area to attend Kentucky colleges and universities, I fell in love with the rich arts community of the Commonwealth. Each area of the arts thrives in its own way, from marching bands with heartfelt traditions to theater organizations pushing for change, each area pulled me in and allowed me to discover new opportunities for arts education.
This passion for the Kentucky arts community led me to serving teachers and students in several capacities. I began my career as a K-5 visual and performing arts (VPA) teacher with Fayette County Public Schools before spending the next eight years in Jessamine County as a choir, media arts, theater and VPA teacher. Next, I transitioned to a coaching position as a district arts and humanities coordinator. In this position, I supported K-12 arts teachers while also designing curriculum and acting as a liaison between administrators and arts programs across the Jessamine County district.
Years of building and revising arts curriculum and programs on several levels led me back to Fayette County as a choir teacher and department chair as we opened a new high school and built a unique arts curriculum to match the school’s vision aligned with global competency. I then transitioned to the role of administrator and assisted in opening an arts-focused elementary school, complete with a professional dance studio as part of the physical education rotation. Most recently, I served as an administrator in the opening of a STEM-focused, all-girls academy where I was able to emphasize the arts.
These diverse school settings – from K-12, rural to urban, big city to small town – allows me to view arts education through many lenses unique to the communities I serve. Through my work with professional and community arts organizations and as an adjunct arts professor, I also know firsthand the amazing opportunities for partnerships with our public-school arts programs to enrich the experiences for our students.
Any opportunity I had with a local college, university or arts organization was then extended to my students for real-world experience, whether it be an aspiring student stage manager working backstage for a professional theatrical production or filming a final media arts project in the green screen studio of a local university. I look forward to fostering similar relationships between students and community partners that extend the learning and creativity that is arts education.
In this new role, my goal is to enhance how students see the world beyond them through creating, performing/presenting/producing, responding and connecting to the arts in the areas of dance, media arts, music, theater and visual arts. As we know, the arts connect naturally with each other, but they also connect beyond their discipline to enrich other areas of education and life. Building these connections within the arts does not mean that every student will take an Advanced Placement Music Theory course, but they will have equitable access to a general VPA course that will allow them to gain an authentic appreciation and understanding for the role the arts plays in their life and the world around them.
For instance, my husband, a public school math and computer science teacher, loves to naturally weave arts connections into his classroom to enrich his lessons and takes that same passion for math to the stage when building a set for his school’s spring musical. My son, almost 2, likes to believe that everything in his hands can become a drum, but he has yet to master “steady beat” when dancing to the rhythm of his favorite song. We are also hoping he can learn to develop his artistic ideas with crayon on paper rather than the kitchen floor before his new sister arrives in the spring.
As a lifelong learner, I gain so much from my family about how the arts impact their day-to-day life and I look forward to gaining knowledge from each of you – as experts in your field – to provide more opportunities for students throughout their educational journey.
Please visit the KDE VPA webpage regularly for the latest information regarding visual and performing arts in Kentucky, including information relating to research-based practices in the field, the new Seal of Arts Excellence, the revision of the Kentucky Academic Standards (KAS) for Visual and Performing Arts, VPA programs and firsthand accounts from teachers and students about VPA education in our schools.