MAEIA at 10 – An Anniversary Celebrated!

By Heather Vaughan-Southard

Photo by Chelsea Johnson Photography.

On June 22, 2022 the Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment community gathered at the Wharton Center in East Lansing to celebrate 10 years of impressive work and to cast a light on the pathway forward into the next 10 years for arts education in Michigan. The gathering provided an opportunity to honor those who were pivotal in MAEIA’s beginnings (The Beginnings with Early Innovators) and to applaud those currently engaged in the work.

The day was filled with many voices highlighting and challenging the work we are doing to support and improve arts education in Michigan.

  • Ed Roeber shared an historical overview highlighting the original founders of MAEIA and the work of each year of the last decade.
  • Joseph Martineau shared his perspective on what MDE envisioned when contracting the MAEIA project and how the work has exceeded those original expectations while serving as a true one-of-a-kind collection of resources in existence across any and all content areas.
  • Jamie Kasper from Arts Education Partnership provided a video message contextualizing the national landscape in arts education.
  • Dale Schmid delivered an inspiring keynote address that reminded us of the power of a small group of intentional people and the amazing value of relational trust. (Watch for its publication soon.)
  • Barb Whitney discussed the importance of the MAEIA partners that demonstrated some of Dale’s key points about community and trust.
  • Participants made pinch pots, one with eyes open and another with eyes closed reinforcing the change of outcomes when we see/think our way through experiences as opposed to when we feel our way through experience.
  • Four dancers from Everett High School performed an original work they choreographed, demonstrating the value of a well-rounded arts education which amplifies student voice and agency through the strands of Perform, Create, and Respond.
  • Looking towards the future, Heather Vaughan-Southard, Nafeesah Symonette, and Tara Kintz highlighted valuable areas of growth in social-emotional learning, culturally responsible instruction, and the formative assessment process in arts education.
  • Participants embodied their perspectives on arts education through tableaux that highlighted themes from the day: student-centeredness, providing windows and mirrors for students to process their own lived experiences, and the roles each of us play in implementing our collective vision.
  • A panel discussion addressing current needs and challenges in arts education brought the day to an end, except for the lovely champagne reception to follow where networking between participants occurred.

All in all, the flow of the event moved us through connection to ourselves, to others, and to big ideas. The day centered the student experience, reinforcing and reigniting why we do what we do in arts education.

On a more personal note, when planning a large event, I watch the registrations and regrets roll in and begin to imagine the people in the space. I like to picture their faces, their greetings, their engagement in the day’s activities. This was our first in-person MAEIA event since 2020, our first gathering of the MAEIA community since 2019.

Going into the day, I was very aware of the whole of the MAEIA community. Of those able to be in the room and deepen the connections, of those unable to attend and still celebrating from a far and I reflected upon the faces of staunch collaborators over the last decade who had moved on. In the opening of the day, I noted that looking at the faces present, it was evocative of my experience at my wedding reception when I realized that all of the people I held dear were in the same room at the same time. What a rush! I held space and gratitude for each individual who had contributed to MAEIA’s success over the last 10 years.

Leaving the day, I was aware of who is going forward with us into the next chapter of work. There are partner organizations and individuals who will strive to improve local, state, and national advocacy efforts, who are working to deepen and expand the existing resources for arts education. There will be new members of our community seeking to better instruct and assess arts education for students and schools and there will be a continued best effort by current staff to support and forward the good work of the past 10 years while looking ahead to the next 10 years.

MAEIA continues to be a community of intentional people. We are determined to create high quality resources in the arts as well as highly impactful relationships statewide and nationally in order to advance creativity in education. Some of the faces have changed and some of the partnerships have evolved and still we continue to advance mightily, together, focused on students and best practice.

Thanks to all who celebrated 10 years with us. Let’s do it again, soon!

Stay tuned to the MAEIA newsletter for upcoming opportunities to get involved.

Heather Vaughan-Southard is the MAEIA Professional Learning Director, owner of HVS Movement Studies, and part of the training team of the Polyvagal Institute.





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