Current Job Title - Program Director
Name of Organization - Think 360 Arts Complete Education
Undergraduate Degree - Bachelor of Arts, Individualized Degree Plan, New York University
Graduate Degree #1 - Master of Arts, Curriculum & Instruction and Elementary Teaching License, University of Denver
Graduate Degree #2 - Doctor of Philosophy, Curriculum and Instruction, University of Denver
What does your current position entail?
I am the Program Director at Think 360 Arts Complete Education. I am the liaison between professional artists and educators of all levels, and assist planning and booking artist residencies in schools. I also lend a hand with our professional development series including the Aesthetic Institute of Colorado, which takes place every summer (and is the most fun professional development for education professionals ever!). I facilitate meetings between teachers and artists to discuss arts integration and the aims of their arts residency and do my best to offer subsidies for programs. I get to observe and document residencies also when they are taking place in classrooms or other venues. I try to keep re-thinking how I do things to see if there is a more efficient way of working, and I keep myself open to new avenues for revenue and programs that fall in line with our organizational mission.
And there is always administrative business to take care of-booking, sending confirmation pages, holding meetings, invoicing and payment, program evaluation, grant tracking, subsidizing programs, some grant writing, event planning and assistance, board meetings, community involvement and whatever else comes down the pike.
How did you get your current position?
I learned about the organization when I was in graduate school. In all honesty, I applied for this position a couple of years before I got it. The first time, I made it to the interview phase, and when the position was announced a couple of years later I reapplied. It was not until then that I felt like I was in the right life circumstance to apply again. I had acquired many additional skills, new knowledge, and perspective required to be truly dedicated to and invested in what I do now.
In relation to graduation, when did you start the job search and when did you secure your position?
I started the job search during the dissertation process, after my mother passed away during grad school and I had resolved the majority of issues with her estate in Arizona. It was during the dissertation process, about five months prior to graduation and two months before my defense, that I felt ready to commit to a full-time job that would permit me to work as Trustee as needed, which has been very infrequent. I had to be ready to dive in and be fully present at my current position, and ready to build relationships from a centered place.
In regards to the job search process:
*Did anything surprise you?
There were over 70 candidates for the position I have. I am extremely fortunate to have the job that I do, and I am grateful for it every day. The people I work for and the mission of the organization are an extremely good fit for me. I enjoy going to work every day and I realize how unusual that may be; I am so grateful.
*What recommendations do you have for current students?
Network like crazy. Get creative in your thinking about opportunities and connections. Decide if you ever want to publish your work before you defend-know your options. And hang in there. Remember, your first job out of school might not be the "forever" job, and that is alright. Just keep thinking about what would be fulfilling for you and keep it in mind as you look for work.
Which aspects of your background have been most helpful in your current position?
Experience as a classroom teacher and being able to understand school climate and keep up with the shifts in policy and realities teachers face has been really pivotal for me. It's been years since I have taught, but I think respecting what teachers experience in their daily lives is really important. I have to keep my expectations reasonable and offer support to both artists and teachers; they are busy people and often under significant pressure.
Also, having had a teaching artist in my fourth grade classroom and knowing first-hand how transformative and fulfilling it can be for students to work with a professional artist in any genre. Attending the professional development that I attended as grad student and as classroom teacher I now get to help coordinate-I understand as teacher, grad student and program coordinator. Speaking Spanish comes in handy also, as does my arts background.
If you were in your graduate program again, what would you do differently, if anything?
Start a formal dissertation group from the beginning of the research process- I was lucky that I had such supportive colleagues to write with, talk and vent to. Get clear on publication requirements and the legalities, obligations and restrictions entailed therein.
Don't be afraid to question why you are in the program; get clear with yourself about your motivations and aspirations. I know that may sound uncouth, but when faced with daunting circumstances make sure your priorities are in line with what you want for yourself (emphasis on yourself).
Any additional comments for current students?
Be prepared for lots of false summits-revisions, glitches, frustrations, and an incredible sense of accomplishment. And, if you are Ph.D. and attend your hooding, bring a safety pin for your hood and Kleenex to stuff in that enormous sleeve. As a Ph.D. candidate, attend the ceremony at Magness and sit in the front row-you can't get up during the ceremony unless it's to receive your diploma. So, use the restroom first. And have a party when it's all over.