Engage and support experienced and skilled arts educators.

Arts teaching roles vary across schools and communities, so we consider the term “arts educator” to encompass everyone who teaches students in or through the arts, including teaching artists, arts specialists, artists-in-residence and classroom teachers (who may integrate the arts in other subjects).

Skilled arts educators form authentic relationships with students, other teachers and school staff, nurturing a culture of inquiry that centers student voice, encourages curiosity and risk-taking, and gives students room to make mistakes boldly and safely.

Arts educators should reflect students’ diversity and experiences, bringing new or broader perspectives to the students and communities in which they work. Strong arts educators are valuable role models for students and other educators. Arts educators need support to meet their professional goals; they should receive adequate pay for their time and expertise, be fully integrated into the teaching community, and have active cooperation in developing their artistic and teaching practice.

Principle in practice

Cam Scott teaches digital storytelling.

In Wallowa County, Fishtrap writer-in-residence Cameron Scott co-taught digital storytelling and writing with Joseph Charter School business technology teacher Liza Strickland. These highly capable educators found their teaching was fortified and energized by their work together. Both Cam and Liza are well established in their respective fields and serve as role models for students, who are highly engaged and enriched by the programming in many ways.

In site visits with the evaluation team, Cam and Liza described how they felt supported by Fishtrap and Joseph administrators, the strength of their relationships, and how they found the work inspiring and motivating. They had clear ambitions to further strengthen the curriculum they established, and found success building authentic relationships with students.

Fishtrap and Joseph Charter School leaders supported Cam and Liza in many ways, including around their own professional goals, and they both feel they became much stronger educators as a result.

As a result of this partnership at Joseph Charter School—and particularly the collaboration with Liza, who became a champion for Fishtrap programming more broadly—Fishtrap was able to expand programming to other schools in Wallowa County.

Other principles illustrated here: