art education

May 2019 Arts Educator of the Month: Allison Smith


We are so thrilled to introduce you to our May 2019 Arts Educator of the Month, Ms. Allison Smith. Allison is a spectacular K-4 art teacher at Galapagos Rockford Charter School  in Rockford, Illinois.  She is beloved at her school and because of her strong instructional and planning skills, serves as a model to her colleagues school-wide.  She is dedicated to her scholars and regularly finds innovative and creative ways to encourage the pursuit of the arts not just at school but at home and in the community.  


 Allison was nominated by her supervisor, Stephanie Boeddeker.  Read her nomination below to learn more about the incredible work that she is doing in her role as art teacher! 

Congratulations, Ms. Smith!  Thank you for your vital contributions to arts education. 


Why do you think this arts educator deserves to be nominated?

 Allison is dedicated to the achievement of her scholars in art and all subject areas. She serves as a model for our instructors within her content and through her planning and organization in her classroom. 


Tell us how this arts educator has gone above and beyond to help students.

 Allison encourages scholars to create and become an artist outside of the walls of her classroom. She ALWAYS has new and fresh displays of scholar artwork in the halls and takes the time to articulate what scholars are learning via their projects. She has taken initiative to create an art show for parents and makes art an important part of the curriculum in our school. 


How would students describe this arts educator?

 Scholars say Mrs. Smith is patient, caring, fun, and a great artist! 


Please share the innovative and creative ways that this educator is teaching the arts.

 One of my favorite things that Allison does is a display she creates in the hall outside her classroom called the "Art Challenge Board". She encourages scholars to make art at home and bring it to her to display proudly. She tries to find ways to connect her content with scholars in their everyday life and encourage them to continue their journey as artists.


What distinguishes this arts educator from their peers?

 Allison really knows and understands scholars' academic levels outside of the art classroom. She takes time to understand what they are learning in other classes and supports them in other academic areas. She knows how to make her content important, while also investing herself in the school as a whole.

April 2019 Arts Educator of the Month: Noel Spring


We are so excited to introduce you to our April 2019 Arts Educator of the Month, Ms. Noel Spring.  Noel is an exceptional art teacher at Rusheon Middle School in Bossier City, Louisiana.  She works each and every day to ensure that her students are introduced to and actively working on a variety of arts projects.  Additionally, she uses her art class in strategic ways that allows for math, science, reading and social emotional learning integration.  Simply put, she is fantastic! 


Noel was nominated by Jacqui Impson, the school counselor at her school.  Read her nomination below to learn more about the incredible work that she is doing in her role as art teacher! 

Congratulations, Ms. Spring!  Thank you for your important contributions to arts education. 


Why do you think this arts educator deserves to be nominated?


 She is a dedicated, brilliant, talented, amazing woman and teacher! 


Tell us how this arts educator has gone above and beyond to help students.

Ms. Spring goes above and beyond the normal duties of an art teacher. She supports the students through mentoring with our PBIS Tier II Climb Program and provides extracurricular support with her Ram Pride Spirit Team. 


How would students describe this arts educator?

Many students say they love Ms. Spring because she believes in them even when they don’t believe in themselves. I’ve also been told they know when a teacher loves them like they are their own child and that Ms. Spring is one of those teachers. One of her students who needs behavioral support said, “Even when I don’t make the best decisions she is there to show me that she cares, even if it’s tough love.”




Please share the innovative and creative ways that this educator is teaching the arts.

She incorporates Math, Science and ELA into her lessons on a regular basis. The projects the students create are wonderful! They have made architectural pieces from popsicle sticks to represent key places in the world (Eiffel Tower, Stadiums, Twin Towers, etc.) The students do historical research on their locations as they prepare their design drafts prior to building. They have made some incredible tribal pieces this year that the students were extremely proud to show in the art gallery at our school. Another great project that she has done is an “emotions in abstract” assignment. The students are able to express themselves through their art and they have used it as therapy as they work through issues with sexuality, racism, domestic violence, self-harm, suicidal ideation, etc. Many of the pieces turned out amazing! 



What distinguishes this arts educator from their peers?

In the Bossier Parish Schools  i3 Art Expo  this year, Ms. Spring represented Rusheon with a display of our students’ art work and she won 1st place in the Parish!! She is a vital part of Rusheon and is dedicated to improving the school and the students. We are blessed to have her on our staff and in our Ram Family! 






Everyday Artist Spotlight: Carman Weathington

"Art teachers are so important because they can inspire students to pursue their art because art gives an outlet for creativity and expression." - Carman Weathington

"Art teachers are so important because they can inspire students to pursue their art because art gives an outlet for creativity and expression." - Carman Weathington


We are thrilled to introduce you to the very talented and multifaceted artist, Carman Weathington.  She began making jewelry as a creative outlet and since then has expanded her art to painting, drawing, collaging, sewing and handmade note cards.  She is truly a woman who exudes creativity in everything she does. She intentionally looks for ways to create and express herself through art and that has manifested itself through many interesting mediums.  It was an honor to talk to Ms. Weathington about her art and the inspiration and drive behind her art. We especially loved learning more about how arts education has impacted her life and also the ways in which she is giving back to young artists and arts teachers.  

Wallets by Carman Weathington

Wallets by Carman Weathington

What is your art medium?

Almost everything! (Jewelry, Note Cards, Painting, Drawing, Sewing, Collage)


Why is your art important to you?

Wow! It's important because it's actually for me. It's something that inspires me, feeds my spiritual self and gives me an opportunity to express who I am and how I see the world. Also, it allows me to bring beauty to the world. Originally, I started painting to relax and now it really feeds me. If I don't do it for long periods of time I feel the difference in my energy. I think that creating is connected to grounding us and keeping us human and I think when we consume things it can destroy us in small ways. When we don't create anything, we don't have expression in the world. My art is about giving myself a place in the world to express and share myself.


What do you want your art to say?

That changes depending on what I'm working on. If I'm doing a series on birds, like I did last winter, it was my way of staying connected to nature.  Through the birds I wanted to portray the serenity and beauty of nature. If I'm working on a series of portraits of women in my community, I want to honor their strength, love, pain, tenacity and power. So, it changes based on what my focus is at the time but all of my art is purposeful.

                                                          Art by Carman Weathington

                                                          Art by Carman Weathington

What project are you working on now?

Actually, I'm working on a series of dogs. I think they are very beautiful animals and they have enhanced our lives in beautiful ways. Also, I think they are funny, lighthearted and loyal and I want to honor the Year of the Dog in the Chinese zodiac. That was my inspiration for this series of drawings.


Painting by Carman Weathington

Painting by Carman Weathington

Who is your favorite artist?

Arthur Wright and Candace Hunter are a couple who live in Chicago and are both artists.  Arthur is an illustrator and does a lot of art on canvas or paper around the rhythm of music. It's really interesting. Candace does a lot of social activism art. Her most recent one was on the lack of water in Africa. She focused on countries that are suffering from water issues.  Another artist I love is Jeff Huntington. He created the mural on the exterior of my studio. He is an incredible, realistic artist. I like artists for various reasons but these are three of my favorite, local artists with very powerful work.

Notecards by Carman Weathington

Notecards by Carman Weathington

How has arts education impacted your life?

As a high school student, I had an art teacher, Mr. Smoot, who was passionate about art. It was one of my favorite classes. I also enjoyed Mr. Paulick, who taught classical music. I remember that I was able to connect art and music together because of these teachers. I could remember a piece of classical music by drawing the rhythm and the sound of the music. These classes made all of the other classes tolerable for me. I wanted to be a clothing designer when I was 18 but walked away from that because a school counselor told me that I wouldn't be able to make a living. She urged me to follow a business path and that's what I did. I didn't come back around to art until the age of 45.

                                   Painting by Carman Weathington

                                   Painting by Carman Weathington

Painting by Carman Weathington

Painting by Carman Weathington

Art teachers are so important because they can inspire students to pursue their art because art gives an outlet for creativity and expression.  It is important to me that I also support other artists. To do this, I mentor young artists and encourage them to pursue their dreams. I will give them space in my studio to show their art. I purchase their art and spend time talking to them about how they can make a living as an artist. Additionally, I've connected with art teachers and have admired the impact that they have on children. So often kids' creativity is squashed and art teachers work in these very restrictive ways. They sometimes have a cart instead of a classroom and yet they still manage to teach a class. I am a huge supporter of art teachers and will often give a portion of my art sales to fund projects that they're working on with their classes.

To find out more about Carman Weathington, visit




Carman Weathington is a native Chicagoan whose family roots are in Natchez and Tupelo, Mississippi. She comes from a long line of “seers”, “prophets” and ministers. Born with a “veil” on her face, her mom told her that she was a special child, as the veil was considered to be a good omen; a blessing from God and the ancestors. Although Carman’s family was highly spiritual, education was something that they valued greatly. Carman received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from St. Xavier University and a Master’s degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Roosevelt University. However, Carman was always captivated by creativity, healing and counseling others. Carman has always been intuitive and had a “sixth sense” about people, places and things. After being away from the canvas for over 10 years, Carman rediscovered her love for art. In 2012, she fell in love with art all over again after completing a piece that was previously left unfinished and spending an entire summer painting. She describes her artistic process as “spiritually inspired”. Her work is conceptual; as people will interpret and feel myriad emotions when they experience it. Her desire is that her work will be a source of continual spiritual enlightenment, inspiration and healing for herself and all who view it. Carman is an Artist, Life Coach, Illinois Licensed Massage Therapist , Reiki & Reflexology Practitioner, Tarot Reader, and Jewelry and Note Card Designer. Her creativity continues to evolve. Carman plans to expand herself into the area of public speaking and life skills teaching/seminars.






MAGICAL UNICORNS: Artists & Teachers

by Jerry Phelps

Throughout my career as a classroom and private music teacher, and now as an arts education supervisor, leader, and consultant, I’ve often heard others say that arts education helps raise test scores. I realize that most people who say this do so in honest and genuine support of arts education. They think that if they comment on how arts education improves test scores, somehow influencers and policymakers in public education will understand that we should keep the arts alive in public schools.

While I like this sentiment, I also find it highly problematic. To me, the arts are not to be used as a tool for the other—that is, the arts are worth the study and pursuit because they function as stand-alone academic subjects. I have never once considered what I do as extra. Sure, I could tell you about the countless research studies that have clearly shown that schools with quality, robust arts education programs have higher standardized test scores, graduation rates, engagement in the school and surrounding community, and positive impact on school culture, but that relegates arts education to solely being used as a tool to solve the world’s problems. I like to think of it more as a tool to understand the world’s problems, not necessarily to solve them.

I started CORE Arts Consulting in effort to expand my work into multiple schools, communities, states, and even countries. I deeply believe in the power of arts education and that it should be a right to every child in public schools, regardless of socioeconomic background. Access to quality arts instruction changes lives. I speak from personal experience. I grew up in a small, rural town in Louisiana where little to no arts education was happening. I was fortunate to encounter Ms. Edith (Duhon) Wilkerson who ultimately changed my life through the study of piano and singing. I frequently think of all the children (and adults!) across our great country that never are so lucky. They rely almost exclusively on public schools and churches to receive education and experiences in the arts. But, what happens when those institutions are no longer doing the work?

In the article, Study: Music Education Could Help Close The Achievement Gap Between Poor and Affluent Students, the author, Rebecca Klein, explains the results of a study from Northwestern University in which researchers “looked at the impact of music education on at-risk children’s nervous systems and found that music lessons could help them develop language and reading skills.” The study was conducted over two summers in Los Angeles in a program where low-income students received free music lessons through the Harmony Project. This study reiterates that which many of us already understand: Arts education matters! We are better off having studied and experienced the arts. So, why do we continue to have to explain this to naysayers? Why are school leaders and administrators having to make scheduling decisions based on whether or not arts classes are taking away from the already increased literacy and math blocks? Why do we always attempt to support our work by first saying that it helps growth in other areas? What if it only helped children grow as artists and thinkers and doers? Isn’t that in itself enough?

My favorite line from the article is, “These findings are a testament that it’s a mistake to think of music education as a quick fix, but that if it’s an ongoing part of children’s education, making music can have a profound and lifelong impact on listening and learning.” Listening and learning. Now that’s something we could all stand to get better at! As you begin your school year, I encourage you to stop justifying your work in the arts as merely a means to assist schools in teaching literacy and math. Rather, I ask you to consider that your work is important and worthy for what it is. You teach the arts for the arts' sake. You teach it because it alone is worthy. Cross-curricular connections are inherent in the arts. You don’t really have to spend much time searching for ways to incorporate them. If you teach theatre, teach your students theatre. If you teach visual art, teach them visual art. If you teach dance, by all means, teach your students to dance! Our society is depending on us to do this work. They may not always be grateful for our work in the moment, but they certainly will in the long run. Artists and teachers, YOU ARE MAGICAL UNICORNS. Keep creating magic with your students! I’m wishing you the best year yet.



With more than a decade of classroom teaching experience and a proven track record of arts education program development nationally, Jerry Phelps is a sought-after arts education professional specializing in curriculum, program development, professional development, teacher coaching, and organizational sustainability. In addition to a variety of classroom and private teaching experiences, Phelps most recently served as the Director of Arts Education and eventually the Director of Co-Curricular Programs for Democracy Prep Public Schools. In these positions, he managed and oversaw the development and growth of dozens of school-based arts education programs, national award-winning speech and debate programs, and physical education and athletic programs across the nation. Among his awards and recognition, Phelps was named a quarter finalist by the RECORDING ACADEMY© and THE GRAMMY FOUNDATION© for the inaugural Music Educator Award. As a seasoned singer and performer, Phelps can be seen on stage frequently throughout New York City in a variety of solo shows and one-off performances. Phelps currently serves as the Principal Consultant for the New York City-based arts education consulting firm, CORE Arts Consulting.