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Action Words: The Status & Future of Arts Education

The Actions Words Series is a FAC Connect program devoted to conversation and literary arts that respond to social issues and collective conversation. Engagements range from spoken word poetry performances, to play readings, panel discussions and more.

Recorded Live Wednesday, April 27, 2022

In response to a rapidly changing educational landscape, educators from across the arts come together in conversation about arts education and arts integration. In this panel, we will discuss where arts education is, where we might be going, and how we can best support the arts for our youth and community.

Alie Ehrensaft, Museum Education Manager, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College will facilitate the discussion with panelists Jen Lennon, Arts Integration Instructional Specialist, Colorado Springs School District 11, Edrick Rhodes, Director of Curriculum and Administration, John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and Jameel Paulin, Assistant Professor of Art, Colorado College.


Please note that the recording started late. Below is the greeting, land acknowledgment and introduction missing from recording:

Hello everyone, and welcome to our April Action Words discussion, The Status and Future of Arts Education. My name is Alie Ehrensaft and I serve as the Museum Education Manager at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. I am honored to be invited to facilitate this conversation with the phenomenal group of educators and artists you’ll meet shortly.

Land Acknowledgement
I would first like to acknowledge that Colorado College and the Fine Arts Center rests on the unceded territory of the Ute Peoples, who have been the longest continuous inhabitants of what is now Colorado. We recognize and honor the original inhabitants who first settled in the area and who called the nearby highest mountain “Tava,” the original name given by the Ute people to what is now known as Pikes Peak. The earliest documented peoples also include the Apache, Arapaho, Comanche, Kiowa, and Cheyenne. At CC, we respect all peoples and strive to grow as a unique and welcoming community. We acknowledge the Indigenous people who continue to contribute to the existing culture of the Pikes Peak Region. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College is committed to using the arts to expand the story and elevate the platform for all the cultures and sub-cultures that make us who we are.

Introduction to Action Words
This discussion is a part of our Action Words series, an FAC Connect Program devoted to conversation and literary arts that respond to social issues and collective discourse. This program ranges from spoken word poetry performances, play readings, panel discussions, and more. Today we come together to converse about status and future of arts education in a variety of contexts. We are living through a rapidly changing landscape of educational pedagogy and policy, and we are here to discuss these impacts on arts education and how we can continue to support, protect, and innovate arts practices in spaces of learning. I am incredibly grateful to be joined by three arts advocates and visionaries spanning a wide range of experiences. Among many other things, we are visual artists, performers, musicians, scholars, stewards, and most importantly, educators. I have had the pleasure of working with each of these individuals in various capacities, and I am thrilled to re-engage this conversation through this public platform.

Panelist Introduction
Jameel Amman Paulin works as an Assistant Professor of Art at Colorado College. He is a visual artist whose work is motivated by a profound love of African descendants. In his studio practice, he uses Afrofuturism as a means to explore the experiences, utopian visions, and aesthetic traditions of the African diaspora. As a visual artist who grew up during the hip-hop era and the digital age, Jameel’s relationship with Afrofuturism has been shaped by the evolution of digital technology and hip-hop music. Presently, Jameel Amman creates immersive digital soundscapes; using African art and music as the basis for developing virtual worlds.

Watch recording of Live Discussion

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Facilitator & Panelist Bios

Headshot of Alie Ehrensaft, white woman in colorful shirt

Alie Ehrensaft

She/Her/Hers
Museum Education Manager
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College

Alie Ehrensaft (she/her) is the Museum Education Manager at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, where she focuses work within interdisciplinary learning, arts integration, and student leadership. As a graduate of Colorado College (BA ‘12, MA ‘17), She returned to her alma mater to expand upon the educational opportunities at Colorado College while simultaneously enhancing partnerships within the Colorado Springs community. Working with learners from across the college campus, K-12 schools, and the local community, Alie utilizes social-emotional learning pratices and inclusive pedagogies to provide robust opportunities for students in the arts. Prior to her work at CC, Alie was a high school teacher in Colorado Springs for nearly a decade anchoring her practice in interdisciplinary learning. Her experience working with K-12, college, and adult audiences provides her the tools to navigate an expanding landscape of education, the complexities of the field, and the promise of what education can be.

Photo of Edrick Rhodes, black man in suit and tie

Edrick Rhodes

he/him/his
Director, Curriculum and Administration
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Edrick Rhodes has 24 years of experience in education, designing and delivering standards-based curriculum in Arts Education. He is an advocate for equity and access in arts education for all students and adult learners. Currently, Edrick serves as the Education Director of Curriculum and Administration providing strategic teaching strategies for local and national programming for The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Recently, Edrick served as the Senior Administrator of arts integration strategic initiatives, provide strategic oversight for K-12 arts curriculum and grant administration for the 10th largest school district, School District of Palm Beach County, FL. There, Edrick lead curriculum-based learning for 193,000 students and professional development for school-based leaders and arts educators of 180 schools.  Edrick also works as an Adjunct music professor, national clinician, music adjudicator, and conductor. Aside from his work, Edrick has an amazing wife and one year old son.

Headshot of Jen Lennon, white woman in black sweater with long necklace

Jen Lennon

she/her/hers
Arts Integration Instructional Specialist
Colorado Springs School District 11

Jen Lennon is an educator and performer specializing in music and drama who has spent almost thirty years integrating arts into classroom curricula. She has taught all grades levels preschool through collegiate in a career that has taken her from Chicago to Toronto and eventually to Colorado Springs. Jen is a passionate advocate for student voice and accessibility through the creative process. As a teacher she believes her role is to foster an environment in which every student can share their unique story and perspective in developing a deeper and relevant understanding of the world around them.  Jen is grateful for the opportunity to mentor other educators in this pursuit as well as connect with arts organizations to create collaborative partnerships. In addition, Jen still maintains her own artistic voice as a musical theatre and TYA performer.

Photo of Jameel Paulin, black man in African dress

Jameel Paulin

he/him/his
Assistant Professor of Art
Colorado College

Jameel Amman Paulin is a visual artist whose work is motivated by a profound love of African descendants. In his studio practice, he uses Afrofuturism as a means to explore the experiences, utopian visions, and aesthetic traditions of the African diaspora. As a visual artist who grew up during the hip-hop era and the digital age, Jameel’s relationship with Afrofuturism has been shaped by the evolution of digital technology and hip-hop music. Presently, Jameel Amman creates immersive digital soundscapes; using African art and music as the basis for developing virtual worlds.