Friday, January 11, 2013

A not so ordinary day in the life of a public servant

A not so ordinary day, May 1, 2012

On May 1, 2012, I taught my last class at the University of Illinois, locked the door of my seminar room, and drove home. After 23 years there, I had recently been promoted to the rank of full professor. I was the first female faculty member in the then 50 year-old art education program at this university to have ever attained full rank.  As any female academic working in the ivory tower knows, this was no easy accomplishment. My work at UI was filled with amazing opportunities and recognitions for which I am very grateful. These include research, fellowships, and grants; publishing and presenting my research throughout the world; teaching and developing innovative new courses; working with smart talented undergraduate and graduate students; advising terrific student Masters Theses and Doctoral Dissertations; collaborating with highly respected scholars in other disciplines; organizing and hosting events; chairing the art education program and overseeing our now 45 year old Saturday morning laboratory art school (a community-arts program serving about 400 k-12 students each year); initiating and participating in exciting public engagement endeavors; and receiving a wonderful array of national and campus awards. 

I have always considered my work as an art educator to be a worthwhile and needed form of public service. In 2011 I examined the spate of attacks on the public service sector (and teachers in particular), but I remain steadfast in the conviction that teaching is a critically important profession. In my own professional work throughout my years at UI (and continuing to the present), have I creatively blended teaching, research, and public engagement. I have articulated some strategies that facilitated my public outreach efforts at UI. These strategies include positioning teachers as public intellectuals, adapting entrepreneurial strategies, utilizing digital and social media, and remain connected to my community of practice. (BTW, I tweeted a link to my "Entrepreneurial Strategies" essay after it was published, and Richard Florida retweeted it!). 

In my post-UI professional life, I am currently teaching for the University of Florida Online Masters in Art Education degree program. I also recently accepted a part-time art teaching position at a local high school. I continue to edit the research journal Visual Arts Research this year. And I remain active in the National Art Education Association (this year as co-president of the NAEA Women's Caucus). 

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