Art teachers visit NAEA to further educating abilities


Jake Roach, Voice Editor

The National Art Education Association held it’s annual convention on March 26th-28th in New Orleans, and in attendance was current educator in the art department Mrs. Judy Switzer and former FHC art educator Ms. Michelle Ridlen.

According Ms. Ridlen, the National Art Education Association, or NAEA, is the leading professional membership platform for art educators, with a very diverse group of teachers to learn and share ideas.

“The National Art Education Association is the leading professional membership organization exclusively for visual arts educators. Members include elementary, middle and high school visual arts educators, college and university professors,” Ms. Riden said,” as well as more than 45,000 students who are members of the National Art Honor Society or are university students preparing to be art educators.”

The event has over 1,000+ activities over the three days and sessions run 15 hours per day, according to the NAEA website.

Mrs. Switzer claims this year was focused on design more than anything and she believes it will really help with how she approaches teaching (and creating) in the future.

“I was able to think like a designer. Design gets you off the focus of yourself because you’re working for other people. It makes you a problem solver, and I think I’m better equipped to bring that into the classroom, something with real world application,” Mrs. Switzer said.

Ms. Ridlen also claims to have a different view on teaching after the convention. The diverse group of people allowed for a unique learning experience according to Ms. Ridlen.

“Anything that can make me a better teacher and be able to better serve the teachers and students in our district is always well worthwhile…There was so much to take in, I am sure I will be changed for the better,” Ms. Ridlen said.

Both Ms. Ridlen and Mrs. Switzer loved the event, but both claimed their favorite part was hearing Tim Gunn from Project Runway talk.

“It was unbelievable! There is always so much to learn and see and do. My favorite part was this year’s keynote speaker, Tim Gunn from Project Runway and educator and mentor from Parsons School of Design. I also participated in a smaller workshop with him about incorporating design into the classroom. It was set up very Project Runway style where we were given a construction challenge and Tim Gunn came around to offer feedback and guidance on the designs,” Ms. Ridlen said.

Although all the teachers there gained something new, Mrs. Switzer believes students in the classroom will gain just as much.

“It’s really helpful for anyone, I think students will start becoming deeper thinkers and think more about their art and how they approach it. I think the students will stand to gain a lot,” Mrs. Switzer said.