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2020 -2021 The Creative Advantage Professional Learning

by Regan Pro, Kayla Skinner Deputy Director for Education & Public Engagement at the Seattle Art Musuem

Dalisha, a Black woman, with a crown of flowers, holds two posing dolls used for drawing in her hand.
Dalisha Phillips

For the past eight years The Creative Advantage in partnership with the Seattle Art Museum has provided free professional learning opportunities for teachers, teaching artists and community organizations. With a primary focus always on equity, the goals of these trainings are to:

  • Create space for community building and self-directed learning
  • Invite new speakers and perspectives to deepen Seattle-based conversations
  • Provide specific skills related to timely needs for Teaching Artists and educators
  • Continue to include and highlight youth voice

The 2020 – 2021 school year presented new challenges for delivering content but also greater need to bring our stakeholders together to build community, support each other and develop new skills to adapt to online teaching. In response to community feedback and the guidance of our Creative Advantage advisors, we tripled our typical number of offerings providing 17 workshops to 1,038 participants. Workshops roughly fell into three categories (with lots of cross over): providing skills training, fostering community support and centering youth voice. Below are examples from one of each group:

  • Helping educators pivot to their new virtual classrooms, Teaching Artist & Educator Gabriel-Bello Diaz led four workshops on Teaching with Microsoft Teams. Diaz brought his experience leading virtual workshops for teens at Pratt to share tips and tricks with teachers eager to find ways to adapt their best practices from classroom engagement to creative workshops in a digital space.
  • Responding to calls for mental health resources, Art Therapist Dalisha Phillips led a four-part series Keeping it Cool through Change, Challenge, and Conflict Utilizing Art-making and Creativity. Phillips worked with a small cohort in weeklies sessions focused on mindfulness and creativity.
  • A highlight of our trainings is always the workshops that center youth voice. This fall we learned from the brilliant youth participants and program facilitators listed below on what has been working, not working and what we can reimagine when it comes to digital learning.

KEXP: Sharlese Metcalf, Kennady Quille
Seattle Art Museum: Rayna Mathis, John McShea
5th Avenue Theatre: Orlando Morales, Gavin Bradler
TeenTix: Mariko Nagashima, Chelsea Nguyen

The learning has continued this spring as we offered our first online course Pause for Presence Course Series: The Art of Allowing Education to Heal with Dr. Bre Haizlip. Beginning in January, a cohort of over 100 educators met monthly to learn from Dr. Bre and each other. This work will continue into the last course session in May and then culminate with a keynote presentation from Dr. Bre at our Creative Advantage Summer Institute this August. While we are not yet sure when or what shape the Institute will take, we know it will adapt to fit the needs of our creative learning communities. Keep an eye out for more details and we hope to see you there!

A group of people standing, arms around each other.
Regan Pro (left), and The Creative Advantage Summer Institute panelists,
photo by Jenny Crooks

Special note from The Creative Advantage: Regan Pro is stepping out of her position as the Kayla Skinner Deputy Director for Education & Public Engagement at the Seattle Art Museum at the beginning of April. While our professional development partnership with Seattle Art Museum will continue, we want to pause to shower Regan with our love and gratitude for more than eight powerful, and joyful years of creative collaboration. The Creative Advantage has learned so much and benefited from Regan’s community-centered leadership and heart-centered engagement. We are beyond grateful to have worked alongside Regan to build a national model of what an arts and justice based professional learning community can be, and we wish her all the best for whatever comes next.

Please share gratitude and well wishes for Regan in the comments.