— by Mellany Armstrong

Teachers from eight states and 23 schools became students for a week at Moore College of Art & Design's Teachers Summer Institute, held June 23 to 29.

The 30 teachers, some traveling from as far away as Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Virginia, reconnected with their own art and forged new relationships in Moore's studios.

First-timer Lynn Underwood of Athens, NY, said she enjoyed working with new tools and trying out new ideas that she could take back to her students at Lynch Bustin Elementary in the Athens Area School District.

"It's just fantastic to be able to talk to and watch other people work and learn from them," she said. "I'm having a lot of fun, and meeting so many art teachers."


The week included studio time, group discussions, drawing sessions, and open days to explore Philadelphia and visit local museums and galleries. They also options to work in the Printmaking Studio, create work from a live model on Open Session Model Nites, or continue to focus on studio work. Many teachers opted to live in Moore's residence hall, and quite a few said the experience was like being back in college.

Guest speakers were Meagan Corrado, who talked about art and its connection to youth and adults who have suffered traumas such as violence, tragedy and assault through a program she oversees called Storiez; Kelly Kirby, a cultural anthropology professor at Moore, who discussed artistic connections to anthropological views of cultural norms, community engagement, and how to open a dialog with students; Steve Scaduto, director of Educational Support Services and The Writers Studio, who talked about ways to engage first-generation college students, and students struggling in a college environment; and muralist Phillip Adams, who talked about his large-scale work in relation to corporate, private and public spaces and how to engage community involvement.

The teachers were also treated by Admissions to a happy hour next door at Urban Farmer. Admissions has also offered participating high school art teachers a $5,000 annual scholarship to award to a graduating senior attending Moore's BFA program in fall 2020. 


Rebecca Van Lieu, a Moore graduate who also earned a certificate through the MA in Art Education with an Emphasis in Special Populations program, said she enjoyed the camaraderie.

"We absolutely have the whole week to focus on ourselves as an artist and a teacher and to work through these processes and experiment with different materials," said the teacher from Pennwood Middle School in Bucks County. "I'm experimenting with new things that I wouldn't have done before because I'm watching other artists work. It really is just phenomenal."

Maura McHugh teaches sixth through eighth grade art at Mt. Ararat Middle School in Topsham, ME. She was enjoying the studio time as a second-year participant.

"A lot of us get wrapped up in teaching and we don't do our own work, and this kind of forces you to really think about, what am I going to do for a week? How am I going to dive into my own art work?" she said. "Then you start to feel the pressures and frustrations that potentially your kids face in the classroom when they can't think of an idea or it's not coming out the way they want it to, so it puts you back in their shoes, which is really useful as a teacher."

Elizabeth Michel came to this year's TSI at her colleague McHugh's suggestion.

"Each day has felt like a year's worth of creativity and thought process, because you're just so focused on creating and talking with other people that I would have never met otherwise," Michel said. "This week has been rejuvenating and refreshing. It's been a long time since I've done this."

Joan Gonzalez, a high school art teacher from Carle Place, NY, agreed. 

"I would like to be back here next year," she said. "I love the freedom to explore, the spaces to work in, the encouragement and interaction between the teachers and the professor. It's just an inspiring space to be in."