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Art Education Symposium 2015: Art as a refuge: Creating a safe space for underserved populations

Art Education Symposium 2015: Art as a refuge: Creating a safe space for underserved populations
Saturday, November 7th '15 9:00 am – 3:30 pm
Debi West & Dr. Donalyn Heise
Debi West & Dr. Donalyn Heise
We were able to negotiate a $7 parking rate at The Kennedy House (on JFK Boulevard between 19th street & 20th street) for our Symposium on Saturday. The Kennedy House is just 2 blocks away from Moore and their rate is much cheaper than parking on the street. While you are not required to park here, know that it is an option. Simply park your car at The Kennedy House and when you get to Moore ask for a parking voucher at our registration table.

Moore College of Art & Design
20th Street and The Parkway
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Always a highly anticipated fall event, this year’s Art and Special Education Symposium features two highly esteemed educators, Debi West and Dr. Donalyn Heise, who will share their insights into how art can help to establish spaces where young people feel safe and are free to express themselves.  The day will also include morning refreshments, lunch and hands-on workshops, providing you with “takeaways” that can be incorporated into your teaching methods. 


9:00-9:30 am Refreshments and networking

9:30-10:10 am Debi West, guest speaker

10:10-11:20 am Donalyn Heise, guest speaker

11:20-11:45 am Q & A with Ms. West and Dr. Heise

11:45 am-12:30 pm Lunch and time at resource tables

12:40-1:40 pm Participants will go to their 1st choice workshop.*

1:50-2:50 pm Participants will go to their 2nd choice workshop. *

3:00-3:30pm Wrap up and hand in ACT 48 papers.*

* When ordering, you will be able to select 2 of the 5 workshops that you would like to attend. Please note that those who wish to get ACT 48 hours for the day will need to write a reflection for each workshop they attend.  Workshops are listed below.

$25 for the day, including lunch

$35 for the day, including lunch, plus ACT 48 hours


Debi West, Ed.S, NBCT has been teaching in Gwinnett County Georgia since 1993.  She teaches students via the visual arts at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, GA where she is the department chair of the art department and the fine arts co-chair, and she is the owner of the Crystal Collage Children's Art Studio.  

Debi is passionate about teaching children through the arts!  Debi is an advocate for art education and served as the President of the Georgia Art Education Association (2001-2007).  She has served on various boards for the National Art Education Association and is currently the NAEA Southeastern Vice President and has served as the Secondary Division Director, the Elementary Division Director, as well as the Southeastern Rep for the NAEA Advocacy Committee.  She has given over 80 motivational and educational speeches, locally, regionally, and nationally.  In 1997 and 1998 she was the national recipient of the Claire Flanagan Youth Art Month award, the top award for art advocacy, representing the state of Georgia.  Debi was the state Youth Art Month coordinator for 3 years, Conference coordinator 2000 and 2008 and Business Rep from 2008-2010. 

Awards include:  2012 National Outstanding National Art Honor Society Sponsor; 2012 ArtWorks! Gwinnett FUSION Award recipient, Art Educator of the Year; 2011 Georgia Honorary Youth Art Month Art Educator; 2009 Georgia Art Educator of the Year; 2009 Woodruff Arts Center Leader in the Arts Honoree; 11 Alive Class Act Teacher Award, 2008; the NAEA Marion Quin Dix Leadership Award, 2006; Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalist, 2006; 2005 Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year; 2005 National Elementary Art Educator of the Year, as well as the 2000 NAEA Southeastern Elementary Art Educator and the 1999 Georgia Elementary Art Educator.  She humbly accepts each of these awards on behalf of the thousands of children she has taught throughout the years. 

She herself is an accomplished artist and author and is currently exhibited in several galleries in the Atlanta area.  She also exhibits annually in the GAEA juried member’s exhibit and the Art Institute Teacher Appreciation Show.  She has received national recognition for her work, “The Art of Making Art” showcased in the NAEA Electronic Exhibit, President’s Choice Award; New York, 2001.  She has published 10 books and resource guides and is a contributing editor for “Arts and Activities” magazine, creating their first ever monthly “curricular series”.  Her student’s work appears in “Emphasis Art” and the SRA Art books, “Art Connections”.  She exhibits her student’s art throughout the community, state, region and nation!  Her most recent Secondary Curriculum is based on service learning, “Art with Purpose.” 

Debi earned her BA from the University of South Carolina in 1989 with a concentration in studio art.  She earned her art teaching certificate from the Moore College of Art and Design in 1992, her MAEd in 1999 (art education) from the University of Georgia and her Ed.S (art education) from UGA as well.  She is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Georgia and plans on completing her dissertation in the spring of 2016 in Language and Literacy.

Dr. Donalyn Heise, Founder and Co-Director of Teacher Effectiveness for Art Learning (TEAL), an affiliate of Advanced Learning, Inc., and retired Associate Professor of Art Education at the University of Memphis. She has been an artist and educator for more than 30 years and has taught art in K-12 public and private schools and several universities. Her research focuses on art for underserved populations, art and resilience, and community art collaborations. She was contributing author to the 2013 Intersections of Art and Special Education: Exemplary Programs and Approaches, and is currently co-editor for Art Education: Gateway to Learning for Children in Trauma.

Heise has designed, implemented and evaluated numerous grant-funded research projects on art for underserved populations, and has conducted over 100 professional development workshops and presentations at the state, regional and national levels. She served as Director for the Center for Innovation in Art Education, Director of the Paul R Williams Project Education, President of the Tennessee Art Education Association, President of the Nebraska Art Teachers Association, Founding board member of the Nebraska Alliance for Art, and Education Advisory Committee of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens. As Art and Technology Coordinator for ConferNet, she designed, implemented, and evaluated professional development for six school districts, and coordinated one of the nation’s first virtual art-based academic K-16 conferences funded by the United States Department of Education.

Awards and accomplishments include the 2013 Tennessee Special Needs Art Educator of the Year award, 2010 Tennessee Art Educator of the Year, the 2010 NAEA Southeastern Region Higher Ed award, the 2009 NAEA VSA CEC Beverly Levett Gerber Special Needs Lifetime Achievement Award, 2007 Tennessee Higher Ed Art Educator of the Year and the Nebraska Art Teachers' Association Supervisor /Administrator of the Year Award, 1997. 

Publications include, Overcoming the Odds: Harnessing the Power of Art to Foster Resilience, Fostering Hope Through Intercultural Intergenerational Art Collaborations, Transforming Pain to Peace Through the Power of Art, Preparing competent art teachers for urban schools, The indispensible art teacher, Differentiation of instruction, Anticipatory sets for art instruction, Playing It Safe in the Artroom, Steeling and Resilience in Art Education, Fostering Resilience Through Art, Finding Beauty in Unexpected Places: Art and Literacy for Families Who are Homeless .


  • Come create miniature mandalas using mixed media and found objects with art educator/art therapist, Dr. Lisa Kay. Learn about a trauma-informed creative arts curriculum for adolescents who have experienced adverse childhood events.
  • By exploring the elements of dance with Michelle Marigliano, participants will learn how to facilitate movement and dance experiences that foster interpersonal connections, communication, and wellbeing.
  • Dr. Cathy Cohen leads a session about Creating Sanctuary through Poetry: Integrating written word into your art room practices.
  • Moore alumnae Sarah Kolker and Gloria Martin’s workshop is about Engaging Multicultural education and Teacher Self-care practices with Special Needs Populations.
  • Percussionist/Educator/Facilitator Josh Robinson leads a workshop on the Language of drumming: Sharing your story through rhythm and music.
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