Dr. Michelle Kraft, professor of art education at Lubbock Christian University, has been invited by the John F. Kennedy Center of Performing Arts to help write and review national standards for K12 arts education that include the perspective of students with disabilities.
This journey began when Dr. Kraft graduated from LCU and started teaching art at Dunbar Elementary and Junior High where she had several students with severe and profound disabilities.
"I always wondered if I was doing inclusion right. In retrospect there are things that I did well and things that I did not do so well," reflects Dr. Kraft. "All of this grew out of that experience of working with students with severe and profound disabilities in the art classroom and really believing that the art classroom was a good unique environment for the inclusion of students with a range of disabilities."
When questioned whether she had handled teaching disabled children correctly in mind; Kraft began her dissertation at Texas Tech. One of her recommendations in her dissertation was that there should be content area classes for education majors working with disabilities. Karen Keifer-Boyd was Dr. Kraft's dissertation chair at the time, and after working together on this project, a relationship sparked that would produce many publications.
"I thought if there were classes in art education dealing with disabilities specifically and where pre-service teachers had the opportunity to work with students with moderate to severe disabilities; it would lessen the trepidation, the fear going into that."
Dr. Kraft and Dr. Keifer-Boyd developed a class for education majors in the summer of 2001. In this class, undergraduate LCU and graduate Tech students became the teachers of people experiencing moderate to severe disabilities alongside typical high school students.
Dr. Kraft goes on to explain, "Our students developed the lesson plans and implemented them. Afterwards we would debrief and strategize. Those were things we wanted our students to learn. After that, Karen and I wrote an article and expanded this article into a book recently."
They titled their book Including Difference: A Communitarian Approach to Art Education in the Least Restrictive Environment. It is to be released this summer and the National Art Education Association (NAEA) will include this book in their September resource list of publications, a move that Dr. Kraft believes will put the book in all the right hands.
The book is split up into two parts: part one deals with theory behind the law and empowerment through disability, and part two deals with practical application in the classroom.
Dr. Kraft and Dr. Keifter-Boyd decided to submit a proposal at the Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference, A VSA program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Not only were they accepted to present at this conference, but the John F. Kennedy Center of Performing Arts caught hold of their work and book and invited this intellectual duo to be the two representatives for visual arts on The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards.
Dr. Kraft and Dr. Keifer-Boyd are currently in the midst of writing and reviewing the national standards. They are able to conduct their part of the process from “home” via email and phone conferences. The coalition will all meet together in person at the end of April for a couple of days.
"I feel so honored and excited to represent Lubbock Christian University, and visual arts education, in this national forum and to be able to help with this worthwhile endeavor to create inclusive arts educational standards that might positively impact K12 students (both those with typical abilities and those experiencing disabilities) for years to come!” exclaims Dr. Kraft. “I really feel this is God’s work, and I would be humbled to be a part of it."
Michelle Kraft is a professor of art education at Lubbock Christian University. Prior to that, Michelle taught art at Dunbar High School and Dunbar Junior High School in the Lubbock Independent School District, working extensively with students experiencing a range of (dis)abilities. Michelle has authored and coauthored several journal articles and book chapters, including in Matter Matters: Art Education and Material Culture Studies, edited by Paul Bolin and Doug Blandy (National Art Education Association, 2012), Visual Arts Research, The Journal for Social Theory in Art Education, The Journal for Cultural Theory in Art Education, Visual Culture & Gender, and Art Education. Michelle is the recipient of several grants and teaching awards. She is active in the National Association of Art Education and in the Texas Art Education Association (TAEA) and has presented at numerous conferences at the state and national levels. She has served as chair of the Higher Education Division of TAEA and as editor of TAEA’s peer-refereed journal, Trends in Art Education. Michelle has been a reviewer for a number of journals, including The Journal for Social Theory in Art Education, Visual Arts Research, and Visual Culture & Gender. In addition to teaching, Michelle has served as department chair and is currently the assistant dean for the Hancock College of Liberal Arts and Education at LCU.
Karen Keifer-Boyd, professor of art education and women’s studies at The Pennsylvania State University, has coauthored InCITE, InSIGHT, InSITE (NAEA, 2008), Engaging Visual Culture (Davis, 2007), coedited Real-World Readings in Art Education: Things Your Professors Never Told You (Falmer, 2000), and served as editor of the Journal of Social Theory in Art Education and guest editor for Visual Arts Research. In 2005, she cofounded the journal Visual Culture & Gender. Her research is translated into several languages and focuses on feminist methodologies for teaching critical and creative inquiry with dynamic/interactive technologies. She has been invited to present her research in Austria, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, and Uganda. She has been honored with leadership and teaching awards including: 2012 Fulbright Award as Distinguished Chair of Gender Studies at Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt in Austria, 2006 Fulbright Award for research in Finland, the National Art Education Association (NAEA) Women’s Caucus Connors Teaching Award in 2005, the Texas Outstanding Art Educator in Higher Education Award in 2001, the Chi Chapter of Phi Beta Delta (Honor Society for International Scholars) in 2001, and the Arts Administrator of the Year NAEA Award for the Pacific Region in 1994. She is a NAEA Distinguished Fellow Class of 2013, and served as president of the NAEA Women’s Caucus from 2010-2012, coordinator of the NAEA Caucus on Social Theory and Art Education from 1999-2001, and is the Coordinator of the Judy Chicago Art Education Collection at Penn State.
For more information on the Kennedy Center, visit their website at The Kennedy Center.