Leading from the Middle semi-regular musings from NAEA's Middle Level Division

Summer 2018

Making the most of Summer


The duality of both Artist and Educator shapes many of us. As we look ahead to the Summer months and into next school year, we are encouraged to remember that Creating is what brought many of us to this profession in the first place.

Recent submissions for our #MakeTime2MakeArt series. Thanks to (clockwise from top left) September Buys, Tamara Draper, Rebecca Chester, Alison Willard, and Lora Durr for sharing their own artwork to be featured throughout the Summer.

Keep an eye out for artwork shared by your colleagues in the middle division. We'll be featuring our OWN work as profile pics on various platforms, and we welcome your submissions. Send us a JPG at NAEAMiddleLevel@gmail.com and we'll add your work to the rotation.

SUmmer book chat

Throughout the month of July, we'll be hosting a discussion of Rachel Branham's "What's So Great About Art, Anyway?"

Cover image from Teachers College Press

Refer to our Facebook EVENT page for updates/comments: https://tinyurl.com/yc65uvq5

The book chat has been divided into 3 sessions:

  1. Prologue - Ch. 3 (July 1-7)
  2. Chapter 4 - Ch. 8 (July 8-14)
  3. Chapter 9 - Ch. 11 (July 15)

Everyone is invited to access our discussion questions in our GOOGLE CLASSROOM (code: hrb2x2).

Join our Google Classroom with course code: hrb2x2

Questions? Suggestions? Log-in issues? Email naeamiddlelevel@gmail.com

Branham, R. (2016). What's so great about art, anyway?: A teachers odyssey. New York: Teachers College Press, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Session Proposals have been submitted!

Our Division Line-up Will include:

  • Middle Medley I: An Art Room for All. Join this round-robin of essential discussions about fostering equitable learning environments that welcome ALL students. Join our panel of educators as they inspire us to adapt to meet students’ needs.
  • Middle Medley II: Promising Practices. Prepare for a whirlwind of inspiration as this round-robin event introduces you to middle level educators from across NAEA. Explore topics of curriculum, assessment and student engagement all at once.
  • Y’all Means All : Safe Spaces, GSAs, and the Middle School Art Room. The Middle Division and LGBTQ+ have partnered to bring you this interactive session, which will provide strategies and supports for establishing and maintaining a safe, welcoming environment for all students.
  • Escape the (ART)room! Game Design for the K-12 Art Classroom. Someone's gone missing! We need your help to solve the mystery! Enter this immersive experience in which our K-12 divisions examine the potential for game design in the art classroom.
  • Conversation with Colleagues: A Middle Level Meet-Up. Connect with your fellow middle level educators in this open-ended, discussion-based session. Share your voice with divisional leaders, gain insights into issues facing our division, and explore ongoing division initiatives.
  • Excellence in Our Midst: Middle Level Awardee Showcase. Seize this opportunity to learn from the BEST! Our National and Regional Middle Level award winners open their classrooms to share best practices and strategies for establishing exceptional art programs.
middle medleys

This year our division will be hosting only TWO medleys: "An Art Room for All" and "Promising Practices." Our presenting team will be assembled in the Fall. Look for our "Call for Presenters" to go out shortly after the notification letters for #NAEA19 presenters are mailed. (The reasoning here is that some members' proposals may not have been accepted, and the Medleys offer an alternative opportunity to participate in the convention.)

Other division news

Njahs happenings

2018 NAHS/NJAHS Juried Exhibition

from the Virtual Gallery: https://nahs.artcall.org/

From the Press Release: "The third annual National Art Honor Society/National Junior Art Honor Society (NAHS/NJAHS) Juried Exhibition showcases the artwork of talented student artists who are members of the NAHS/NJAHS programs. This competitive exhibit provides a backdrop to a variety of national and local events held at the NAEA Studio & Gallery in Alexandria, VA during the summer months."

"NAEA received 1,160 submissions and 66 works have been selected for exhibition in the NAEA Studio and Gallery. All submissions are featured in the NAEA Virtual Gallery."

Selected work by student artist, Micheal Marchie, sponsored by Sharon Miller of Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy
Selected work by student artist, Thalia Anora, sponsored by Jayme Rodriguez of Sudbrook Magnet Middle School
  • Check out our NJAHS Sponsor Forum on Facebook! We're looking to connect with chapter sponsors, soon-to-be chapter sponsors, and folks just curious about the whole art honor society thing.
  • Follow our "NJAHS SPONSOR FORUM" Pinterest Board. We are constantly adding resources to share, and we hope to build this resource over the coming months and years. If you'd like to be added as a contributor, email naeamiddlelevel@gmail.com
Fabulous Faculty | A Spotlight Series


Lora Durr

Crockett Middle School | Hamilton, New Jersey

We asked ms. Durr to share the qualities that make her classroom a special place to learn and create?

A student recently said to me “Your class is so much harder than the others – I have to THINK here, I leave so tired!” I took this as a major compliment!

The middle school art room is a place where almost every student in the school comes to learn. As such, I try to ensure that learning in the art room addresses art ideas while we practice art techniques. I design lessons that enable all students to express their personal thoughts through art making and encourage the students to explore non-traditional art techniques and materials.

Over the years, I have developed several lessons that encourage students to collaborate while making art. Under my guidance, students have created murals on the walls of our building, large scale mosaic installations in our “commons” area, produced ceramic tile grid enlargements of famous artwork which fill our media center, built portraits using LEGO, and worked in teams to design fantasy factories which literally require “out of the box” creative problem solving. Many of these lessons allow the students to leave their mark on our building which helps to develop personal pride and respect for our space. By working together on artmaking assignments, the students push each other to be more creative and learn interpersonal skills while doing something fun!

Making connections is part of my personal artmaking practice and something that I have tried to encourage with my students as well. My recent series - “What’s for lunch?” – has allowed me to connect with friends and strangers from all over the country to develop a series of paintings which explores food access and quality. As an active artist, I exhibit my work in the region which allows me to develop relationships with other artists. These connections have allowed me to bring a few real live artists (!) into my classroom and inspired opportunities for my students to learn from professionals in the field.

Ms. Durr's personal artmaking practice includes the series, "What's for Lunch?"

Where do you find inspiration for your lessons?

I have recently found inspiration for lessons by experiencing contemporary art in my area and attending workshops that expose me to knew artmaking techniques. I believe that incorporating the community with artmaking is an important element to include in the middle school years. We’ve connected with our community by displaying artwork in a local art gallery and starting the #HamiltonRocks social practice art movement in the town – spreading kindness and creativity beyond the walls of our school! I think activities like this – ones that are about more than just the materials and techniques of art – are important to create a spark in middle school students that will lead their way into more artistic study. I hope that spark will excite them for what art can do as a medium for communication in this world!

Thank you, Lora, for sharing this glimpse into your inspiring program.

If you would like to recognize a Fabulous Faculty or share a bit about your own program, please contact our Eastern Regional Division Director, Leslie Flowers.

NAEA DELEGATION TO VIETNAM | October 20-27, 2018

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION. As a delegate, you will have the opportunity to meet with your Vietnamese counterparts to learn about the education system and the place of art within it through professional meetings and daily site visits. This tour will be led by NAEA President Kim Huyler Defibaugh.

Topics of Discussion (from NAEA):

  • Learning about the education system in Vietnam/Cambodia
  • Exploring the ways in which art education fits into the priorities of the education system
  • Observing the ways visual arts are taught at all levels of education
  • Learning about the training requirements for art educators
Did you know NAEA hosts a Career Center for Job Seekers and Employers?
STAY COnnected
Want to connect with our Division? There are many options!
  • COLLABORATE. NAEA's new professional community continues to grow! Check it out and share your own perspectives/experiences. Visit: collaborate.arteducators.org and contribute to our "Middle Level" Community.
  • PROFILE PICS. This Summer, we've shifted our focus to our members as makers. In a campaign #MakeTime2MakeArt, we'll be showcasing the personal work of our members. If you would like to share your own work for an upcoming feature, please message us on FB, Instagram or Twitter, or email your attachments to naeamiddlelevel@gmail.com. Please include your name, your school name & location, and title/medium/etc. of the attached work.
  • NAEA NEWS & NEWSLETTER. Have an idea for an upcoming issue of NAEA News or this Newsletter? We'd love to hear it. Email us at naeamiddlelevel@gmail.com and pitch your story ideas! Check out the latest issue of NAEA News, too.
Our Middle Division's latest article from NAEA News, which can be accessed at https://www.arteducators.org/news/naea-news

Next issue we'll talk Awards, NJAHS Chapter Sponsorship, and Recap our Summer Stories. See you then!

national art education association
  • NAEA Mission. The National Art Education Association advances visual arts education to fulfill human potential and promote global understanding.
  • NAEA's Statement on Diversity & Inclusion. NAEA is committed to the important role of visual art education in providing and promoting more just, inclusive learning communities in local and global contexts, and embraces diversity as an integral part of the mission of visual art education. The mosaic of our global humanity is enriched and expanded by the inclusion of all peoples and cultures and the art forms they create.
Featured Cover Art

Thank you to Alison Willard for sharing her painting, Sunset Sentinel. Alison teaches at Grandview Middle School in Hickory, North Carolina. #MakeTime2MakeArt

Sunset Sentinel, oil on canvas, by Alison Willard from Hickory, NC


Created with images by Quangpraha - "sunset the sun wooden bridge"

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