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TPTE Program / Center Highlight

Ask me about art education t-shirtArt Education – Beyond Glitter and Glue

Written by Anthony Pellegrino, associate professor of social science education.

The art education program is housed in the department of Theory & Practice in Teacher Education (TPTE). Joy Bertling is an assistant professor of art education and serves as the program leader. In the past few years, she has worked to increase the visibility of the program through recruitment activities and community outreach. As part of those efforts, she has established important connections with faculty in the School of Art and worked closely with area schools in professional development and clinical practice.

We asked professor Bertling to share some information about the program and the experiences of the prospective art educators in it.

What are some typical backgrounds of the candidates you see the art education program?

Students admitted into the art education program come from a variety of backgrounds. Approximately two-thirds of students pursue art education by completing the art education minor as undergraduates while completing their Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in studio art. The other third represents students who decide to pursue art education after they have completed their bachelor’s degrees. These students may or may not have graduated with a major in studio art and usually have work experience in fields at least peripherally related to art or education, such as social work or graphic design. These students take the undergraduate prerequisites in studio art, art history, art education, and education before enrolling in the professional year along with the more traditional students.

What courses and clinical experiences are included in the program?

The art education minor includes a practicum experience course, two art education methods courses, and other education courses. During the professional year, students complete a year-long internship and graduate coursework designed to lead toward a master’s degree. In ARED 530, art teacher candidates have the opportunity to engage in artmaking, which culminates in our annual art education intern juried art exhibition. The works from this year’s exhibit are currently on display in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences dean’s suite.

What do you hope your teacher candidates know and are able to do after completing the art education program?

The art education program is designed to prepare students as artist-teachers and leaders in the field of art education. Graduates go on to serve in informal and formal educational settings, such as public and private schools, art museums, community centers, and other art agencies and institutions.

What is the current state of art in area schools?

From my experience, art teachers are in high demand in this area. Our graduates have high job placement rates. For instance, last year, all spring graduates secured full-time art teaching positions by May 1. After that date, I still had principals contacting me who were looking to fill open positions.

How does the art education program work with area schools and art teachers?

Clinical experiences are scaffolded throughout the program to prepare art teacher candidates for their future roles as art educators. In ARED 350, they observe two mentor teachers, one elementary and one secondary, and assist them in their classrooms. Then, in ARED 520, we work together with students in Inskip Elementary School’s summer program as we engage in place-based and community-based art education. The next semester, candidates begin their yearlong internship, which includes placements at elementary, middle, and secondary levels. Over the course of the internship, interns take on more responsibility in the classroom.

What are your plans for the program moving forward?

Our program has been active with our national and state professional organizations. For instance, we have a student chapter of the National Art Education Association. In recent years, our faculty, students, and alumni have received multiple awards from the Tennessee Art Education Association and faculty and students have served on the board of the state organization. However, I would like to see more students have opportunities to attend the state and national conferences associated with these organizations. I believe these early experiences of engaging in professional development as part of a wider learning community can be rewarding and establish patterns of professional participation that can span a career. I am currently working in my role as higher education division representative with the Tennessee Art Education Association to find ways so that conference registration can be free for pre-service teachers.