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Community of Practice Workshop

Community of Practice Workshop August 20-22, 2017 Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center, Higgins Lake, Roscommon

Sunday, August 20, 2017

11:30 – 12:00 Sign In/Settle In/Room Assignments

12:00 – 12:45 Lunch 1:00 – 1:30 Welcome/Introductions/Expectations/Overview – Lora Frankel and Coleen Downey

1:30 – 2:45 Session 1 – Panel Discussion – An Overview of Disability Characteristics and Discussion Regarding Student Learning – Using UDL and Multiple Intelligences – Marie Baker, Emily Hudson and Hannah Wilcox

2:45 – 3:00 Break

3:00 – 4:00 Session 2 – Power of the Wind – Science & Dance – Barbara Selinger

4:00 – 4:15 Break

4:15 – 5:15 Session 3 – Nature’s Beauty – Mandy Loyselle

5:15 – 5:30 Reflection/Evaluation – Lora Frankel and Coleen Downey

5:30 – 6:30 Dinner/Break

6:30 – 8:00 Session 4 – Songs as Story: Creative Classroom Music for All Ages and abilities – Ramona Burns and Pharlon Randle

8:00 – Socializing

Monday, August 21, 2017

7:15 – 8:00 Breakfast

8:00 – 9:15 Session 5 – The VSAMI AIR Program – Planning, Curriculum Development, Arts Infused Education, Reflection and Evaluation, Data Gathering and Reporting – Lora Frankel and Vera Smith

9:15 – 9:30 Break

9:30 – 10:30 Session 6 – Ukulele Workshop – Jeff Krebs (Papa Crow)

10:30 – 10:45 Break

10:45 – 11:45 Session 7 – Art Beyond Limits – Dwayne Szot

11:45 – 12:45 Lunch/Break 12:45 – 1:15 Reflection/Expectations/Overview of Remainder of Workshop – Lora Frankel and Coleen Downey

1:15 – 2:15 Session 8 – The Earth Spins and So Can I – Roberta Lucas

2:15– 2:30 Break

2:30 – 3:15 Session 9 – Everybody Can – Susan Fitzmaurice

3:15 – 4:15 Session 10 – The Use of Technology in the Classroom – Kimberly Drew

4:15 – 4:30 Break

4:30 – 5:30 Session 11 – Creating in Clay – Phil Wilson

5:30 – 6:15 Dinner/Break

6:15 – 8:00 Session 12 – Mandala Magic – Vera Smith 8:00 – Socializing

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

7:15 – 8:00 Breakfast

8:00 – 9:00 Session 13 – Marbling & Judith Scott (1943-2005) – Marty Calhoun

9:00 – 9:15 Break

9:15 – 10:15 Session 14 – Using Props to Enhance Learning – Cindy Babcock

10:15 – 11:00 Reflection/Evaluation – Lora Frankel and Coleen Downey

11:00 – 12:00 Session 15 – Drums: The Universal Language – Chi Amen-Ra

12:00 – 12:45 Lunch/Break

12:45 – 1:30 Written Evaluation/Sign Out/Goodbyes

Description of Workshop Sessions

Session 1 – Panel Discussion – An Overview of Disability Characteristics and Discussion Regarding Student Learning – Using UDL and Multiple Intelligences – Presenters Marie Baker, Emily Hudson, and Hannah Wilcox - Participants will become informed regarding the abilities of students who are identified for special education services in school classrooms in Michigan. Students with differing intellectual, physical, behavioral and social disabilities learn in different ways. Teaching artists and classroom educators will learn strategies for teaching the arts to students with these abilities/disabilities using the principles of UDL (Universal Design for Learning), so that everyone can improve their teaching practices. This session will set the tone for the entire Community of Practice workshop, and lessons learned will be revisited throughout the workshop.

Session 2 – Power of the Wind – Science & Dance – Presenter Barbara Selinger – Explore movement and create dances based on wind power, wind turbines and electricity. Learn concepts of recycling and how props can made from recycled materials and used to create choreography, and you will gain an understanding of how the natural element of wind has the ability to create energy.

Session 3 – Nature’s Beauty – Presenter Mandy Loyselle – Recycled, reused material collected mainly from area shorelines, such as stones, driftwood, random organic materials can be used to make art. While teaching the students we discuss the medium and where it came from, what it is, it's shape, etc. With this project the student really gets to create something unique and one of a kind, no two alike. The lesson relates to history, science and geography. We all have a part in this life and world. How we all relate, live, grow and look outside the box.

Session 4 – Songs as Story: Creative Classroom Music for All Ages and Abilities – Presenters Ramona Burns and Pharlon Randle – Bangtown Productions and Hands-On Folktales collaborate to create a workshop that connects storytelling strategies to modern music. We create a low stakes environment for students to share their stories through sound. The strategies shared will empower you to guide your class in a musical experience that allows them to work in a group or individually to express their ideas through music. This program can be adapted to support curricular and classroom goals for any age or ability. Participants will be provided resources to adapt this workshop for their classrooms.

Session 5 – The VSAMI AIR Program – Planning, Curriculum Development, Arts Infused Education, Reflection and Evaluation, Data Gathering and Reporting – Presenters Lora Frankel and Vera Smith - This session will provide an overview of the VSA Michigan Artists-in-Residence program that has been implemented in Michigan classrooms over the last 25 years. Special attention will be given to the collaborative process that takes place between teaching artist and classroom teacher in the development of curriculum for the residency that define outcomes, assessment criteria and arts activities that make the residency successful and relevant. The importance of reflection and evaluation between the classroom teacher and teaching artist to assure that learning is taking place will be stressed.

Session 6 – Ukulele Workshop – Presenter Jeff Krebs (Papa Crow) – Learn how the playing the ukulele supports learning in language arts and social studies, in addition to learning concepts of performing and creating music. Learn about the history of the ukulele, how to hold and strum the instrument, how to create rhythm and basic chords, and sing songs while playing.

Session 7 – Art Beyond Limits – Presenter Dwayne Szot – Everyone can make art! Workshop participants will become knowledgeable and comfortable with the Zot Artz adaptive art tools and activities, and expand their understanding of creativity without limits. Participants learn the theory behind the tool’s design, work with the adaptive art tools in practice, and share their experiences with each other. Children of all abilities and ages can stamp, draw, and print to make their mark. It’s all play, but they learn, explore and develop skills while having fun together. Student artists have fun while fostering motor skills, concentration, communication, self-esteem, sensory input processing, ability to stay on task, social skills, and much more.

Session 8 – The Earth Spins and So Can I – Presenter: Roberta A. Lucas – This presentation will focus on creative dance lessons that involve flowers, pollination and bees. Participants will explore how to artfully support emergent literacy and science concepts through children’s fiction and non-fiction literature.

Session 9 – Everybody Can – Susan Fitzmaurice – Learn strategies for differentiating instruction and how to support the individual needs of your most challenged students. Come to this workshop with examples of classroom incidents and challenges that you need support with, especially as they relate to disabilities. This discussion will focus on problem solving and ideas for working with students who have sensory needs, physical, social, and emotional barriers to learning.

Session 10 – The Use of Technology in the Classroom – Presenter Kimberly Drew – Learn how to utilize different programs and websites to teach students with disabilities how to match, coordinate colors, recognize shapes, count, read, write and do math. She will present interactive websites that instruct such tasks as how to prepare simple meals and how to bake, which includes measure and mixing. These are the websites that her students enjoy the most. There is also a website that promotes inclusion of our wheelchair students by showing them dance movements. Join in a discussion of new and creative ways to motivate students to learn through the use of technology.

Session 11 – Creating in Clay – Presenter Phil Wilson – Learn the basic techniques of creating functional and aesthetic objects with clay. Make a pinch pot with additions and relate that object to the diverse bodies/personalities/abilities, which we see in others and in ourselves. Think about how the people we work with are perceived and treated differently, and how we all present ourselves in ways that indicate how we want to treated. would you want your object perceived? How would you expect others will respond to it? serious, weird, ridiculous, unremarkable......?

Session 12 – Mandala Magic – Presenter Vera Smith – We will use collaborative learning strategies to develop individual and group mandalas. Mandala is a Sanskrit term that means “circle”. It is a tool that can be used for self-discovery…in this case, discovering our purpose and mission with VSA. This will be a fun, high energy way to get us thinking about our mission and commitment to our students.

Session 13 – Marbling & Judith Scott (1943-2005) – Presenter Marty Calhoun – Marbling uses a variety of beautiful patterns on paper and cloth. Participants should come to the workshop with a collection of sticks, leaves and other things found in nature. Learn how materials such as shaving cream, corn starch and methocel are used as bases for marbling strips of cloth to bundle and wrap nature finds. Learn about Judith Scott, a woman with Down Syndrome, who also became deaf after experiencing scarlet fever, and about her creations of mixed media fiber art.

Session 14 – Using Props to Enhance Learning – Presenter Cindy Babcock – Learners with significant disabilities become more engaged in learning, when they are stimulated by the use of a variety of colorful, tactile props, such as yarn balls and scarves, and gain a feeling of community, when collaboratively engaged with elastic, stretch fabrics, and a parachute. UDL strategies are employed when engaging learners with props that command focus and attention.

Session 15 – Drums: The Universal Language – Presenter Chi Amen-Ra – We will conclude our workshop with a mighty send-off exploring African polyrhythms, and letting our combined energies guide our journey. We will learn some historical and geographical information regarding the African diaspora and how African music has influenced other music forms. And – as drumming is the universal language – we shall look at the use of percussion instruments in African culture as a means of communication between people. We will make music together, in some cases without realizing it, through cooperation and teamwork.

Presenters’ Bios

Chinelo ‘Chi’ Amen-Ra is a percussionist focusing on rhythms of the African Diaspora. He was born into the Ngoma Za Amen-Ra New Afrikan Cultural Theatre in Detroit. An alumnus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Chi has worked with several universities, and recently served as an Artistic Instigator at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. To augment his academic pursuits, Chi continues to study via the Master Drummer tradition. He has learned to play various percussion instruments from master musicians of the African Diaspora. Chi’s performances include seven appearances at the Metro Detroit Concert of Colors Festival, four appearances on WDIV’s “Live in the D”, and three appearances on MetroArts TV Detroit. He has shared the stage with prominent artists such as Talib Kewli, John Legend, India Arie, Aretha Franklin, Tommy The Clown, Mike Ellison, jessica Care moore, and internationally renowned Dagomba dancer Sulley Imoro. He is also honored to have represented Detroit during Super Bowl XL, performing with the legendary Stevie Wonder. Most recently MQA Ltd. selected Chi as part of their music marketing campaign in London, UK. In recognition of his work in the Metro Detroit community Chi has been awarded the Wow Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Performance”, and the 2016 Kresge Arts Fellowship. Currently Chi is the African drum instructor at the Detroit Institute of Music Education. He also assisted in forming the first African dance company at Wayne State University, “To Sangana”, serving principal accompanist and music director.

Cindy Babcock is a registered dance/movement therapist and dancer. She has been working with VSA Michigan as a teaching artist for over twenty years. She also worked for eight years as a consultant in the Michigan Dance Association Dancers in Schools and Dance Project for the Disabled. Ms. Babcock holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Development and Education. Ms. Babcock served as a trainer for the national VSA Start with the Arts Early Childhood Education Program, and worked with Lora Frankel on Artistsin-Residence model. She has served as a member of the VSA MI Board of Directors for eleven years and is now serving as Immediate Past Chair for the 2016-17 term.

Marie A Baker began her career as a special education teacher with Detroit Public Schools and was a Special Education Supervisor when she recently retired. Marie has worked with children with every disability and has provided professional development for students, parents, teachers, ancillary staff, administrators, security officers and artists in the area of understanding disabilities and providing the most appropriate modifications and accommodations to meet the needs of some of our most unique learners. She currently works part time in Southfield Public Schools as a Special Education Supervisor providing support for students in center and non-public schools.

Ramona Burns graduated with a BFA from Wayne State University, and holds a certificate from the Moscow Art Theatre. Ramona has been performing, directing, writing and producing professionally in the Metro- Detroit area for more than a decade. She is Artistic Director and Lead Storyteller for Hands-On Folktales, and is a member of the Detroit Association of Black Storytellers. She combines acting, vocals and movement in the creation of her stories. Ramona has served as lead teaching artist for the Bloomfield Hills Schools’ P.R.E.P. transition program for the past two years, and serves as the VSA Michigan coordinator for Community Development. Recently she wrote a performance piece called HEaR Me for DDCdances, combining storytelling with contemporary dance. Ramona works with Detroit Wolf Trap, creating interactive storytelling experiences for early childhood development classrooms throughout the Detroit area. To learn more about Ms. Burns visit her Facebook page at

Marty Calhoun is an art programmer who enjoys creating activities for persons from pre-school through senior citizens. She is fiber artist, surface designer, certified high school teacher, endorsed special education educator, and small business owner with over 37 years of teaching experience. She has taught office education in public schools. As a small business owner she created over 1,000,000 yards of hand-dyed cloth and thousands of yards of beautiful marbled cloth for needle artists and her own traditional art quilts and wearables. Marty has taught surface design, quilt making, off-loom weaving and silk ribbon embroidery throughout Flint and 12 states. She has been an Artist-inResident for Flint Community Schools, Flint Cultural Center, and VSA, planning varied opportunities for creative expression that stimulate the imagination, offer choices, and require material manipulation for the final product. Currently she is the sewing instructor for a Flint, MI mission that gives women job skills and hope. She believes that art can be an equalizer for children and adults with different abilities and strengths.

Coleen Downey is the new executive director of VSA Michigan. She is the former director of the executive director of the Grosse Pointe ART Center, Rotary Club of Grand Rapids and Thornapple Arts Council of Barry County. Coleen has Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music and Theater from Oakland University. She has sung leading roles with Michigan Opera Theatre opposite Kathleen Battle, Jerry Hadley and Judy Kaye. She served vocal music apprenticeships with Michigan Opera Theatre for two seasons, and with The Lake George Opera Festival in New York, and The Spoleto Festival USA in South Carolina. She has been a soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Pontiac Oakland Symphony, St. Clair Shores Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, and the Elgin Symphony and Symphonette in Elgin Illinois. She was the soprano soloist on the Grammy nominated CD “Hymn to the Sun” recorded by the William Ferris Chorale in Chicago, Illinois. She toured nationally with The “Prince Street Players” of New York for two years as Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Coleen has performed regional theatre throughout the United States, in feature films and on radio and television. She currently performs as a professional actress/comedian with the Dinner Detective and ComedySportz, and teaches private voice lessons in her home studio.

Kim Drew is an Educational Technician Specialist in the Department of Specialized Services for The Detroit Public Schools Community District. She has been working with students with special needs for 22 years. Kimberly has a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Industrial Management and is currently working on a Master’s in Education Technology. As an Educational Technology Specialist, her classroom is a computer lab. The students whom she teachers are recommended by classroom teachers for her technology class. Students learn how to properly care for the equipment and how to log on. They work up to doing assignments based on their abilities. This is an on-going process until the students master all of the technology available to them. Kimberly has also worked as a certified cheerleading and dance coach for over 10 years, and has coached cheerleading and dance on a national level and throughout the City of Detroit and surrounding areas for over 20 years. She has judged nationally in the competitive cheer and dance world. One of her greatest joys has been working with her students with disabilities at Helen Field and Jerry L. White Special Education Centers in Detroit. She has taught students cheerleading for school basketball games. She has also taught dances for talent shows and many different occasions whenever asked. Her students performed in national competitions under the Special Needs category and won trophies, monetary prizes and much more. Kimberly was first introduced to VSA back in 2003 by the school music therapist Gayle Owens, who is now retired. She had the pleasure of working with Gayle for many years with different programs for her students.

Susan Fitzmaurice is a lifelong disability advocate, a person with multiple disabilities and parent of two young adults with different disabilities from her and each other. She has written many essays for journals, magazines and books, including “Sticks and Stones: Disabled People’s Stories of Abuse, Defiance and Resilience”. She is the Assistant Executive Director for the Society of Disability Students in addition to the Inclusive Arts Coordinator for VSA Michigan – The State Organization on Arts and Disability. Susan is committed to changing the lives of people with disabilities and empowering people to stand up for their equal right to a just society. She has graduate degrees in Early Childhood Education from Bank St. College, and Disability Studies and Rehabilitation Counseling from Syracuse University.

Lora Frankel has been promoting creative power in people with disabilities for over 30 years. While serving as executive director of VSA Michigan for 22.5 years, she created and directed the nationally recognized Michigan Artists-in-Residence model program that has been conducted in more than 150 schools, and the award winning artsJAM (jobs and mentoring) Gallery & Studio program, engaging youth with disabilities in learning through the arts mentored by professional artists. A former dancer and choreographer, Lora holds an MFA in dance and a permanent teaching certificate in the State of Michigan. She served on the faculties of the University of Toledo and University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and in Michigan at Wayne County and Oakland community colleges, two Detroit high schools and at the Midwest Dance Center in Oak Park. For 7 years she served as executive director of Young Audiences of Michigan and for 8 years as Outreach/Education coordinator for the Michigan Dance Association coordinating dance residencies in schools throughout Michigan. During her 11 years as a governor appointee to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Lora served as a voice for persons with disabilities to promote the accessibility of arts and culture for all persons in the State of Michigan. Lora is dedicated to furthering lifelong learning through the arts for persons with and without disabilities, and currently serves as a consultant to VSA Michigan coordinating residency programs in schools throughout the state and professional development opportunities for educators and artists to further the teaching of the arts to differentiated learners and the inclusion of the arts in the school curriculum and community-based programming.

Emily Hudson received her Bachelor of Art Education from the University of Michigan-Flint and her Master of Education in Special Education with an endorsement in Autism Spectrum Disorders from Oakland University. She has taken numerous courses in the areas of: special education, teaching students with trauma and mental health issues, behavioral support systems, and crisis intervention. Emily was the Art Director for the Valley School in Flint Michigan for 5 years where she taught students from kindergarten through 12th grade including darkroom and alternative process photography, ceramics, fiber arts, stained glass, mosaics, drawing, painting, sculpture, mural painting, art history, 2D and 3D design, printmaking, literary magazine, yearbook, and elementary and middle school art fundamentals. She also taught for after school art programs in the Flint Community schools and through United Way programs for women and children living in homeless shelters, domestic violence safe houses, and young adult halfway houses. From 2006-2008 Emily was an artist at Red Ink studios and her photography and mixed media work has been exhibited at the Greater Flint Arts Council, Buckham Gallery, Red Ink Studios, the University of Michigan-Flint and Mott Community College Student Galleries. Emily is the program coordinator for VSA Genesee County, a VSA teaching artist, and recently voted onto the board for VSA Michigan. She is the VSA building representative for the Elmer Knopf Learning center where she currently teaches students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Emily has been a small business owner since 2008, serves on the board for the Valley School, and teaches art to students in the homeschooling community at her home in Flint.

Jeff Krebs is a singer, songwriter and teaching artist. He was drawn to music at the age of four starting with the ukulele and picking up guitar a few years later. Jeff began writing and performing original children’s music in 2010, coinciding with the birth of his first child, performing for kids at churches, libraries, daycare centers, schools and festivals and calling himself Papa Crow. He released “Things That Roar” in 2011, an album of fourteen original kids and family songs. Since its release the album has been well received in the family music world, earning positive reviews and getting airplay on many children’s music programs throughout the U.S., going on to be awarded a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor. The follow-up to “Things That Roar” is “Full Moon, Full Moon”. This woodsy song cycle loosely follows a day in the life of a kid in the outdoors and is chocked-full of fireflies, campfires, heartbeats, full moons and a billion stars. Papa Crow has also released to EPs: “What Was That Sound” and “Their Heads are Green and Their Hands are Blue”. Papa Crow is known for his interactive performances. He is also a ukulele fanatic and has conducted uke workshops for many kids of all ages. Songwriting workshops are also offered. He loves to spread the good vibes of music, and hopes to meet you down the road.

Mandy Loyselle is a multi-media artist focused, but not limited to, painting and crafting. Known for drawing inspiration from nature and thinking outside the box when it comes to creativity, she enjoys guiding people to create their own art. Mandy can adapt many projects to the satisfaction of the student regardless of individual abilities. This is achieved by taking advantage of the many creative techniques she uses with the chosen medium. The student feels comfortable and confident in finishing his or her goal and creating one kind of art. Mandy was mentored by two art teachers and an area resident artist while in high school. She attended community college in Petoskey, and is one semester away from an Associate’s Degree in Arts and Communication. Other inspiration came from her uncle who is a graphic artist, and an aunt who is a teaching artist. Mandy also teaches a DIY class to her community refurbishing household furniture and more. She is experienced in watercolor, acrylics, pencil, pastels, natural dyes, wood burning and more. Her vision is to encourage students to find their own inner artist, to use art as a way to communicate, for therapy, and to relate to our beautiful world. Her passion for nature and peace show through in her students’ and her own art. Using things collected from nature and recycled supplies to create art demonstrates how the world and communities can work together.

Roberta Lucas teaches Creative Dance for Children and Performing Arts in the Elementary Classroom to dance and education majors at Oakland University. She maintains a Michigan L.L.P. and completed a MA in clinical and humanistic psychology at MiSPP. She is a 2015 graduate of Tamalpa Institute, Kentfield, CA. Her work in healing and expressive arts includes residencies at Hutzel Recovery for Women, Affirmations-HIV support group, and various teen and youth programs serving at risk and special needs populations. Roberta leads “Environmental Expressions” and “Planetary Dance” workshops in community settings. Dance in Michigan includes study with Linda Z. Smith, Lisa Novak, The Detroit Dance Collective and Laurie Eisenhower. She has trained nationally with Judith Jamison, Deborah Hay, Trisha Brown, Bill Evans and Anna Halprin. She was dance specialist and subsequent director of Dance at Ann Arbor West High School from 2002-2007. At Living Arts, Roberta was Affiliate Director of Detroit Wolf Trap from its inception in 2011 to 2016. As a National Master Artist for the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Childhood Education Through the Arts, Roberta conducted numerous classroom residencies, teacher professional development, and artist trainings throughout the United States - including the LA Music Center, Gateway Arts-Chicago, NJPAC, and The Kennedy Center. Internationally she represented the Institute in Canada, England and Greece. “Integration of the arts in all aspects of education, healing and living is my motivation and passion.” Learn more about Roberta at Pharlon Randle, recording artist and producer, is no stranger to as it helped shape his childhood and career as a producer and creator of Bangtown Productions & Recordings and its Studio On The Go program. Born in Flint, MI, Pharlon’s love for music started in the early 70’s where he and his mother would sit at their organ and play along to Green Onions among other classic soul tunes. This family pastime grew into an individual passion for the youth and the newfound passion became a serious skill as he came of age. Over the years, Pharlon picked up more musical skills such as songwriting, producing and mixing while also learning to play multiple instruments. Picking up a job as a Mt. Morris school bus driver, he balanced his work and music career. During this time, he realized that he also had a passion for working with children. In 2006, Pharlon was asked by a friend to bring his studio to a classroom in order to teach students about music production and songwriting. He agreed and on that fateful day, Pharlon’s mobile studio program, Studio On The Go was born. Designed to educate school age students about the process and benefits of music making, Pharlon's mobile studio has touched the lives of many children around the state of Michigan and garnered local and national attention. Pharlon Randle is a learner and teacher of the craft that shaped his destiny. He continues on his mission to share his gift and bring the life-changing power of music to others. Visit

Barbara Selinger, choreographer, performer and educator, is artistic director of DDCdances, a company she co-founded in 1980. She has choreographed and performed since 1973, creating more than 100 major works for DDCdances and other companies. Barbara is the only Michigan dance artist awarded six Creative Artist Grants from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs to create, perform and produce her work. Barbara’s choreography, celebrated for its humanity and ability to stimulate the senses through visually striking images, has been presented throughout Michigan and in Detroit, Chicago, New York City and Toronto. Barbara has more than 25 years of experience in higher education where she mentors students pursuing a career in the arts, and conducts numerous dance/arts classes in schools grades K-12. Her academic achievements include M.Ed. in Dance - Wayne State University and B.A. - Anna Maria College. She has been awarded the prestigious Arts Achievement Award from Wayne State University and Teacher of the Year Award from the Michigan Dance Association, selected as one of 3 artists for the Governor’s People’s Choice Award for outstanding Michigan artist in 2005, honored by the cities of Farmington and Dearborn for her artistry and commitment to community arts programming, and is the 2015 recipient of Michigan Youth Arts Touchstone Award as VSA Michigan Educator of the Year. More information regarding Ms. Selinger and DDCdances may be found at Vera M. Smith is a visual artist/educator/advocate/activist. She believes creativity to be an integral part of the positive growth and development of children. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Wayne State University and a K-12 Visual Arts teaching certification endorsement from Marygrove College. She went on to teach visual arts at her alma mater Cass Technical High School. Her focus was mentorship and advocacy leading to growth as professional artists in the community. After her teaching experience at Detroit Public Schools, Vera went on to coordinate the establishment of the Michigan Galef Institute’s art reform efforts for Michigan Public Schools. The Institute was devoted to art as the bedrock for learning, growth, and development. The basic philosophy of the Galef Institute was Harvard University’s, Project Zero, a multiple intelligences initiative focused on how children learn Visual Arts was the centerpiece for the institute, providing a visual rather than a literary pathway to learning. Her advocacy for children provided an opportunity for her to reach out to the community and provide a positive growth model. She became the Art Director for the Boll Family YMCA as an additional avenue for activism and advocacy through the arts. She spent several years at College for Creative Studies teaching and creating art, and training community educators as they worked to meet the creative needs of the community youth. She has touched many lives as an artist/educator/advocate/activist. Her work in the community continues.

Dwayne Szot, founder, and president of Zot Artz is just the right combination of artist, engineer, and big brother to excel at helping children with disabilities experience the joy of making a mark and creating art. Szot grew up in a midwestern foster home with a foster brother and sister who had Cerebral Palsy. Other children and adults with disabilities lived in the home, and Szot observed and respected the special challenges they faced. He credits that experience for giving him the courage and motivation to create the “painting wheelchair,” one of Zot Artz’ most popular art tools, to help children with disabilities create art. As a youth, he spent hours fixing machines with his foster father – welding, bolting and making do with what was available. “It developed a can-do attitude as well as a fascination with machines and mechanical design,” says Szot. Szot’s education focused on art, starting with commercial and graphic art in high school. Winning graphic arts contests helped him attend the Kendall College of Art and Design at Ferris University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received a master’s degree in fine art from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. His collegiate study of art combined his love for machines and art. He designed and built machines that he used to apply color to huge surfaces including building walls, roofs, and even a frozen lake. Having studied how a machine could extend his ability to make a mark, and remembering his foster siblings’ struggles, Szot was inspired to create a mechanical device that would extend a disabled person’s ability to make a mark. The result was the first “painting wheelchair.” He worked with special education departments, hospitals, and residential facilities, creating art tools and bringing art to children, but it frustrated him that when he left with his adaptive tools, their art opportunity left with him. He founded Zot Artz to create adaptive art tools and make them available to teachers, therapists, residential providers, hospitals, parks, and other facilities who could offer art experiences to children. Zot Artz currently has a complete line of adaptive tools that make the creation of art possible and fun for children with and without disabilities. Szot also facilitates art experiences using his special Zot Artz tools.

Hannah Wilcox is a teacher at Marion D. Crouse Instructional Center (GISD), which is a center-based building in Flushing, Michigan. She has taught there for eight years, working with students ages 10-26 in both intermediate and adult classrooms. Her students are all cognitively impaired, some profoundly so, and many also have severe multiple impairments, physical impairments, blindness, deafness and/or have autism impairment. She received her bachelor's degree in Special Education with a cognitive impairment endorsement and reading minor from Central Michigan University and is currently working on completing her Master's in Curriculum, Instruction and Technology from Nova Southeastern. Hannah's experiences in helping students gain new ideas and sensations through art has been inspirational, eye-opening and fulfilling. She believes students benefit from the arts in ways that other subjects simply cannot reach. She is always learning new ways to engage ALL students, despite apparent hurdles and challenges.

Phil Wilson worked as a ceramicist at Lot O’ Pots Pottery in Grand Rapids for over 30 years, before relocating his studio to Traverse City in 2012. He has participated in many juried art fairs, and his work has been commissioned by several corporate entities. His clay creations are both functional and aesthetic, and directly connected to the environment. He says, “When not working in clay for myself, I love teaching with it. The way people are drawn in as they work and the wonderful variety of expressive things made is always delightful.” The teachers with whom Phil worked in Gaylord this spring greatly appreciated the way he engaged all of the students in the creative process.