NAEA15 @ NOLA – Convention Review


I think things are finally back to normal here in MA, though I’d be lying if I said that everything has been put away after my trip to New Orleans! I still have a few things to take care of, one being a review of my trip, so here goes….

This was my first time traveling to New Orleans, and it was everything I thought it would be and more. The weather was great, the food delicious, and the connections I made with art teachers really made it an amazing convention.


A view of Decatur St – Praline Beignets – Eileen & Myself celebrating our ‘Presenter’ status!

There were so many great sessions, perhaps too many, since I couldn’t get to them all. I’m only going to highlight a few.  If you weren’t able to go, I highly recommend you get to Chicago next year!

How to Design a Foolproof Kindergarten Class Period – presented by Amanda Heyn & Jessica Balsley of the Art of Ed 

This was a great session, with lots of useful information.  I didn’t really think I’d get too much out of it, but really everything they shared was either a well needed reminder OR it was just so helpful.  My biggest take away was the need for consistency in Kindergarten.  I do a relatively good job with this, but I needed the reminder that this is really important.

Write? Right! Publishing to Advocate Your Art Program – presented by Cassie Stephens, Nancy Walkup, Nicole Brisco, & Pam Stephens

If you are thinking about publishing, whether on a blog, website, or publication this session was the one you should have attended!  I’ve been in contact with Nancy Walkup, the editor for School Arts magazine, so I knew I couldn’t miss this session.  Besides sharing tips and tricks about writing, they also shared reasons why it’s so important to publish.  One reason that stuck out in particular was how Cassie’s principal will make the budget work when she needs something above and beyond what she typically requests.

Design Your Art Program to Say Yes to the Mess – presented by Phyllis Brown

Phyllis & I rocking our perfect art teacher hair!

Phyllis & I rocking our perfect art teacher hair!

Phyllis of There’s a Dragon in my Art Room fame shared lots of tips and tricks about ways to manage mess in the art room, so that you aren’t afraid to say yes to it!  I learned about many things that I immediately started using in my classroom.  One was the benefits of a painting sponge, which students use to dry off their brush while painting.  Another tip she shared was adding a border to messy artwork, so paint or oil pastels don’t end up all over the table.  It also prevents wet paper from curling.  I haven’t tried this yet, but I am very excited to!

Be sure to check out her posts on the convention!

An Innovative Use of the Outdoor Environment for Creative Art – presented by Deb McLean, Eileen Barnett, & Catherine Grosskopf,

Taken from Deb McLean’s blog linked above

This presentation came from my home state and actually my school district!  Deb McLean is a preschool teacher & Eileen Barnett is another elementary school teacher.  Catherine Grosskopf is a retired art teacher, who was a visiting atelier.  They shared how they worked together to get the preschool class outside weaving, going on nature walks, and making sculptures.  All of their work was documented via the iPad app Book Creator, and you can find more information on the blog I linked above!

Debunking the Digital Divide – Presented by Alicia Fine & Peter Curran


Another group of presenters that come from my home state! I know Alicia & Peter because they are on the MAEA board with me.  I wanted to go to their session to support my peeps, and ended up walking away with a ton of great resources.  They shared what they are doing in their middle school & high school classes, to bridge the technology gap.  They even created a whole website dedicate to this session, so you can access all of their great resources by clinking the link above. One resource that I don’t use enough is padlet, and they shared some really great ways to use with students. 

Art21 Educators: Collaboration and Contemporary Art Education – Presented by Jack Watson, Jess Hamlin, Jethro Gillespie, Jocelyn Salaz, Julia Mack, & Rebecca Belleville

Rebecca Belleville & Jethro Gillespie inspiring me to do more

Rebecca Belleville & Jethro Gillespie inspiring me to do more

I knew I couldn’t miss this session, because I’ve been trying to incorporate more contemporary art into my elementary art classroom. This session did not disappoint. I was super inspired by what all the educators shared, and I was particularly moved by what Rebecca Belleville shared about what her and Hannah Brancato are doing in Baltimore, MD.   They’ve empowered students to become activists about things they feel strongly about.  Be sure to find out more about what they are doing by visiting and

Of course, I can’t end this post with just a list of some of the sessions that really stood out to me! Tim Gunn’s General Session on day 1 was a the best way to start my few days in NOLA. He shared many inspiring stories, but what I liked the best was his acronym for things to remember while being a teacher “TEACH: Truth telling, Empathy, Asking, Cheerleading, and Hope for the best” 

Sorry for the terrible pic....I was a bit in the back. :(

Sorry for the terrible pic….I was a bit in the back. 😦

It was great getting to meet Sandy Rabinowitz from Twisteez Wire. Just before heading to the convention, my 6th graders wrote Sandy a persuasive letter.  The goal of their letter was to convince her to package Twisteez wire in neutral colors, since we were running out while working on our wire sculpture figures.  She responded, and besides the lovely letter she also sent us a bag of free wire, with a bunch of black, white, and beige!

I met Sandy Rabinowitz from Twisteez Wire

Sandy Rabinowitz from Twisteez Wire

I learned about #FreeArtFridays from Hope Knight who runs the blog Smartest Artists and is the artist behind Check the Box (follow her on twitter @_checkthebox_ and @MKSAfaf). I found artwork from Holly Bess Kincaid’s students (she can be found at the Capitol of Creativity – twitter: @artladyhbk), and from Kathi Arinduque’s students (she can be found at Shine Brite Zamorano – twitter: @shinebrite71). I also made some art of my own, inspired by Rina Vintez’s iPad photography session (she can be found at K-6 art – twitter: @k6art)

I found some art courtesy of #FreeArtFriday AND I made some of my own

L to R: Shine Brite Zamorano, Check The Box, Capitol of Creativity & my piece inspired by Rina.

The Massachusetts YAM work looked great!

The Massachusetts YAM work looked great!

On Thursday night I enjoyed a meet up I organized for the Art Teacher Facebook group at The Rusty Nail. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pics, but if I track down ones that some other art teachers took, I will certainly update. On Friday night, I joined what I think was four tables worth of art teachers for dinner at the Palace Cafe on Canal Street. Nic Hahn of Mini Matisse fame (twitter: @minimatisse) was only there for a bit so I didn’t get to chat with her, but I did have a super fan moment on Saturday. I was heading down the escalator as she was heading up….since I hadn’t even seen her yet, I couldn’t help myself and yelled out something like “Nic Hahn, I’ve wanted to say hi….”. Unfortunately the escalator moved us further and further apart, so I didn’t get to say much more.  BUT, she turned around and came back down the escalator and caught up with me to say hi!   I hope I get to chat with her more in Chicago!


Enjoyed delicious food and great art teacher company at Palace Cafe on Canal Street

Besides all that fun, I did have some time after the convention ended to enjoy the beautiful weather and city of NOLA.  I took my bike for a spin around the Garden District and the French Quarter, and got to see some of the cemeteries, and some street art by Banksy and an unknown artist who created the Mona Lisa sticker.


I enjoyed some NOLA architecture

I enjoyed some NOLA architecture

I took some selfies and found some street art.

Took some selfies and found some street art.

I also got some permanent art on my arm solidifying my maker status courtesy of Hell or High Water Tattoo on Magazine Street


Can’t wait for NAEA16 in Chicago next year!


8 thoughts on “NAEA15 @ NOLA – Convention Review

    • Definitely! I just had some of my gr 4 Ss start a collaborative piece to get some practice weaving using weather data. I told them we’d drop our finished pieces for Free Art Friday and they are super excited about it. More so then the weaving, which is crazy, because they LOOOOOVE weaving.

  1. It was so great chatting with you and all the other teachers at a The Rusty Nail, and my husband had fun too! Thanks for organizing that and glad you had fun with the Free Art Friday activity! It is something I’ve really taken to and I’ll have to send you some pieces later this spring – maybe we can do a student swap 🙂

  2. Holly Vlajinac

    What a GREAT recap of what looks like an amazing event! It looks like you made a lot of connections and had a ton of fun. Well done!

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