Elizabeth “Betsy” McClain, a vistual arts teacher at Signal Mountain Middle/High School, was chosen as one of a select group of teachers to attend the 2020 Tennessee Arts Academy, Empowering Arts Teachers in a Virtual World.
The Academy, which is the nation's premier summer teacher training institute for K–12 arts education, officially opened on Monday.
Normally hosted on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville, this year’s event was restructured for 2020 as a “virtual” learning experience. More than 325 teachers from K-12 public and private schools across the state will participate in the weeklong session.
The Academy core faculty consists of 20 nationally recognized professors, academic instructors, and artists assembled from leading universities, schools, and arts institutions from throughout the United States. They will teach a diverse range of classes in music, theatre, visual art, and dance as well as special classes in arts leadership and administration. Another 40 presenters will offer single focus classes during the six-day event.
Ms. McClain is thrilled to be participating in this week’s prestigious event.
She has been an educator for 24 years, teaching at both the Center for Creative Arts, the former Signal Mountain Middle School, and now, at Signal Mountain Middle/High School. At SMMHS, McClain is the Arts team leader and has been on the leadership committee both there and the former middle school. She is in Who's Who Among American High School Teachers and received the WDEF News Channel 3 and Food City Golden Apple Award in 2011.
Outside the classroom, she served as coach for the Signal Mountain Middle School Tennis team for four years and also coached Signal’s Middle School Cheer Squad for 14 years during which they won several awards for Game Ready competitions and dance.
Ms. McClain currently teaches Art 1 to high school freshmen, Photography to juniors and seniors, and 8th grade Visual Art. She looks forward to sharing some of this week’s experiences with students.
There will be many special moments throughout the week, starting with TAA’s opening performance by the highly acclaimed string ensemble, Omer Quartet with Hanzhi Wang on accordion.
Other major highlights of the week include a speech on Monday to the TAA participants by San Francisco Philharmonic conductor Jessica Bejarano, followed on Tuesday by a presentation from visual artist and bookmaker Frank Hamrick. On Wednesday, Broadway and film composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown (Bridges of Madison County) will address the participants.
Rounding out the week will be performances on Thursday by cellist Carmine Miranda, accompanied by pianist Elena Bennett, and on Friday, Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s original production of "Take upon’s the mystery of things": Classical Creativity in Isolation.
Because arts instructors often have higher than normal class loads, the teachers and administrators who annually attend the Academy directly reach anywhere from 150,000 - 200,000 students the following school year in classrooms all across the state.
Officials said, "The Tennessee Arts Academy has impacted over three million Tennessee students and trained more than 7500 teachers in its 34-year history. The Academy's advanced curriculum, cutting-edge methodology and unique philosophical perspective maximize participants' learning experiences.
"With renewed energy and knowledge, Tennessee Arts Academy educators are better equipped and motivated to raise achievement standards and affect positive and lasting change for Tennessee students, providing them with the necessary skills to become creative and productive members of our work force and society."
The Tennessee Arts Academy is a program of the Tennessee Department of Education. Visit www.tennesseeartsacademy.org or call 615 460-5451 for more information.