Faculty Professional Development: An Outsider’s Perspective

By Slu Zhang, P.S. ARTS Chan Fellow

Before P.S. ARTS programs launched for the 2012-13 school year, we had our first Faculty Professional Development session, “Arts Education Ambassadorship,” one of a series of seven trainings that P.S. ARTS offers our Teaching Artists throughout the school year. After the short summer, we were very glad to see our Teaching Artists coming back full of energy.

This training equipped our Teaching Artists with art education theory, as well as news about P.S. ARTS. We had staff from P.S. ARTS give us talks. Stephanie Kistner and Amy Knutson, members of our Education & Programs team, reviewed two works that resonate with our program philosophy: Project Zero’s report, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, “The Qualities of Quality” and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities Report, “Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools.” P.S. ARTS’ Executive Director, Dr. Kristen Paglia, presented major organization changes related to our programs, showing us where P.S. ARTS stands. Elda Pineda, Senior Education & Programs Manager, discussed P.S. ARTS’ mission, philosophy, and expectations of Teaching Artists by holding a funny award-winning quiz. Richard Scher, Curriculum Specialist, presented an overview of P.S. ARTS curriculum toolkits and reviewed expectations/procedure for curriculum documentation submission.

We were glad to have guest presenters from the Story Pirates, a national organization that provides theater to public schools, who provided us with a workshop on improvisation in order to hone and improve our teaching skills, including how to better tell stories to donors. All of us had fun and also learned a lot!

This fruitful day ended with continuous conversation and laughs. Every Teaching Artist got a binder that included toolkits and other useful information they may need in the following school year.

As a new comer to P.S. ARTS, I attended this training with curiosity and gained a lot of insight. Besides what is mentioned above, I was touched by the dynamics of these Teaching Artists as well as their passion towards their job.

Matthew Segal, a P.S. ARTS Music Teaching Artist, told me that sometimes he learns more from the kids than kids learn from him. I was very enlightened that a teacher was willing to learn from their students.

From Matthew, along with the other Teaching Artists, I could see their passion in art and education and their dedication to serving the kids. Another theater Teaching Artist Martha Ramirez-Oropeza shared with us her everyday feeling when doing her job, and said she could feel the process of creativity and she knew that is where her life lies.

As Dr. Kristen Paglia shared, nothing can bring you down faster than if you lose your own value. So it is very important to discover your passion in life and build up our own values. I am very excited to see the Teaching Artists as well as the staff at P.S. ARTS who are enthusiastic in their jobs and have devoted themselves to arts education.

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