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Art teachers get the bigger picture at conference

By: Amanda Karioth Thompson, COCA | November 01, 2017

Lydia Countryman has an extensive background in the arts and education. With numerous degrees in various disciplines including graphic arts and printmaking, elementary education and varied exceptionalities as well as curriculum instruction, her 27-year teaching career has been well informed by her training.

For the past three years, she has served as the art teacher at Franklin County School and her administration supported her recent request to attend the Florida Art Education Association’s annual conference for the first time.

This is the largest professional development event in Florida for visual art educators. With nearly 150 presentations, workshops, general sessions and special events offered over four days, Countryman had a staggering number of opportunities to grow as an art educator.

Though presenters hail from all over the state and beyond, the Tallahassee area was well represented and one of Countryman’s favorite workshops was led by Florida State University School’s elementary art teacher Ruthie Platt.

“It was a thorough presentation on Japanese brush painting. She had photos and books and a lot of practice time with authentic materials,” said Countryman. “She was there to guide and give support which was helpful because the topic was something I’ve never had exposure to.”

Platt made the experience accessible to Countryman and others by building their confidence and knowledge base. Countryman is eager to introduce her students to this new manner of art-making that allows them to gain an understanding of a different part of the world.

As the Associate Chair of Art Education at FSU, Jeff Broome has attended and presented at the FAEA annual conference for years. He sees the benefits from multiple vantage points. “I think back to my first couple of years teaching and I was so busy that when a conference came my way I was like, ‘oh man, I don’t have time to go, I’m better suited preparing for my classroom,’” he admitted. “Then when I finally did start going to conference, I was like this is how you stay current and how you don’t get stuck in a rut, this is how you get new ideas.”

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