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Jen Johannes
MS art educator
16th year

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My name is Jen Johannes, I'm about to embark on my 16th year of teaching.  I have been part of MAEA my entire career, attending and presenting at the state and national conferences.  However, it wasn't until I attended an Executive Committee meeting that I saw the true value of the organization.

I am currently serving as the Vice President of Advocacy.  I am more aware of what is going on at the state level, and how lucky we are to be art educators in the state of Maryland where the arts are valued at all grade levels including as a graduation requirement.  I have made great friends by participating in the art related professional development.   The PD's are outstanding and I've implemented many engaging strategies into my own classroom.   MAEA has been a real bright spot for me professionally.  I urge anyone that is even a little curious to come out to one of our meetings and see how you can lend your voice to furthering art education in the state of Maryland. 

Samantha Nichlas
ES art educator
2nd Year

My name is Samantha Nachlas and I am an elementary art teacher in Montgomery County.  I started teaching last year and have been a member of both MAEA since I was in my pre-service experience in college.  I believe that arts education is important to all students because through the arts, children have the ability to become problem solvers, to grow their own creativity, and to come up with their own answers to the world’s hardest problems.

I chose to become a member in 2015 because I saw all of the amazing benefits that being a member could bring me.  The most important benefit of all, in my opinion, was and still is the sense of community.  I have met so many people through MAEA who have similar goals and interests.   I have already learned so much from my colleagues by going to conferences and attending meetings that has enabled me to become a stronger teacher, even in my first year.
I believe every educator should join MAEA because we really are a close learning community.  We help each other out when we are struggling, we share ideas, and we advocate for each other and our field, so that art education can continue grow.  As a member of MAEA and NAEA I have learned more about myself as an art educator in one year, than I ever thought I would in my entire career.  My advice to any of you new educators out there who feel like you do not have a place to belong, or feel as though you have no where to turn, would be to come to an MAEA meeting, or even attend a conference.  There is nothing better than a sense of community and somewhere to turn, especially when you are starting out in the field.

Christopher Whitehead
Visual Arts Teacher Specialist
17th Year

I am an artist (painter/illustrator), husband and father of four.  I work in AACPS as the Visual Art Teacher Specialist and have been in education for 17 years.  I believe arts education is important for all children because it provided the experiences and skills needed to be the creative problem solvers our world needs – regardless of future career.

This IS my professional organization - designed and tailored specifically for art educators, created and governed by art educators.  MAEA has supported me through providing networking opportunities, lesson and best practices sharing, collaboration with peers and hands-on art making workshops that help me grow as an art educator. 
I would encourage others to join because we are all in the same field, learn from each other, and share our knowledge to make art education stronger. It is important that we have a voice and that we (the experts) make decisions on Art Education in this country before other people make the decisions for us. The MAEA/NAEA gives us that voice and the platform from which we can share our knowledge.

Rebecca Bellville
Director of Programs,
MAEA member 9th year

My name is Becca Belleville and I am the Director of Programs for FutureMakers, a maker-education service provider for Maryland and Washington D.C. I was an art teacher in Baltimore City Public schools for 7 years and have been a member of NAEA/MAEA for the past 9 years. Arts Education gives students the ability to respond tactilely to questions and curiosities. If students aren't granted access to arts education it deprives them of the opportunity to think and explore through physical and visual means and does them an academic disservice by undermining their ability to think critically in multiple facets and disconnecting them from our collective cultural history.

MAEA/NAEA give me the opportunity to be in the company of other professionals who are dedicated to the field of art education. I'm constantly challenged and inspired by art educators and truly enjoy their company. Of all the professional circles I frequent, art education is the most giving and welcoming. I feel like I would lose a bit of my identity if I wasn't able to take part in MAEA/NAEA events and conferences.  When I first started teaching I wasn't sure if I was a true art educator. I thought my ideas were based too heavily in other content areas and I questioned my validity to the field until I attended my first MAEA conference in which I met like minded educators who were questioning their practices in similar capacities. MAEA/NAEA have provided me with a field of scholars who I can reach out to with questions, ideas, and concerns. The endless support my fellow members have provided has inspired me to do the same and I can truly say that I have been able to equally give and receive with MAEA/NAEA in a manner that has pushed my growth and empathy markedly.

Expand your network! You don't know what you don't know and no successful educator operates in a silo. If you put yourself out there and participate in MAEA/NAEA events and conferences you'll be amazed at what you'll receive.

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