Event Co-Chairs:

Ram Estrada, Lamar Consolidated ISD

Rachel H. Dickson, The Ensemble Theatre

Azar Rejaie, University of Houston-Downtown

The Houston Arts Partners Conference, an annual event since 2011, is going virtual. Join us as we re-energize, re-think, and re-imagine what arts education, arts integration, and arts partnerships between school districts and arts organizations can be. All sessions are FREE and open to the public. Registration is required.

Houston's arts and education organizations are re-thinking and re-imagining their approaches to arts integration and arts education. Today we will hear from three organizations. These mini-sessions will address performing arts, visual arts, and arts integration. See what you can learn from their new approach, and find out how to partner with these organizations to ensure that arts education remains a part of every child's education. 

Keeping the Arts at the Heart, Part 3

Tuesday, December 15, at 5:30 p.m. Central Time

Exact presentation order and times subject to change.

Cross-Cultural Learning through Art

Presented by Asia Society Texas Center

Join the Education and Outreach Team at the Asia Society Texas Center as we dive into our resources for integrating cross-cultural learning into the art classroom. Learn how we activate prior knowledge, connect to the social-emotional learning needs of the students, and introduce cultural understandings through art. Then we’ll share some fun, quick, and easy art activities you can easily implement into your curriculum. Educators who participate in the session and subsequently sign up for a free student virtual tour will receive a complimentary educator membership to Asia Society.

Thinking Through Theatre

presented by The Ensemble Theatre

This interactive workshop will get you on your feet as we explore theatre based activities.  A theme for this application based exploration is the universality of theater as a tool for every classroom while providing transferrable life skills. Fun will be had by all as we use the brain and the body to engage the world of theatre—no experience required! 

Mindfulness through Photography & Writing

Presented by FotoFest Literacy Through Photography

This session will help teachers, managers, and administrators incorporate techniques that bring awareness to our minds and bodies through photography and writing. Participants will learn how to use self-reflection and awareness of one's environment to help manage stress through stream of consciousness writing, breath awareness, and image making. These techniques will be applicable to educators and students alike.

Previous Sessions

Session 1: Play & Arts Education: Strategies to Support Kids Who've Experienced Trauma

Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 5:30 p.m. Central Time

Trauma can impact children of all backgrounds. This includes not only abuse or neglect but also witnessing violence, loss or long-term illness of a loved one, isolation, oppression based on race or culture, food insecurities, and more. Many traumas are made worse by the effects of the pandemic and by high-profile incidents of cultural- and race-based violence and oppression.

This interactive online session, led by educator, writer, and teaching/performing artist Shavonne T. Coleman, will prepare educators and teaching artists to support kids experiencing trauma through strategies of free play, structured play, and dramatic play. Attendees will learn about the types of trauma, the ways play affects the developing brain, how a trauma-informed approach is an anti-racist strategy, and how to create space for kids to heal as part of your arts classroom or arts residency.

Session 2: Making the Most of Remote and Virtual Arts Education

Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 5:30 p.m. Central Time


No matter their subject, all teachers are facing the challenge of keeping students engaged and invested during virtual learning. These three teachers from different arts disciplines have remarkable approaches that uncover the strengths of their online learning platforms - and bring out new ways of teaching that will be applicable beyond the pandemic. Each teacher also has a detailed resource list that you may find helpful in your classroom. 

Visual Arts Goes Viral (5:30 - 6p)

Ariel Keller, an educator and the Lead Visual Art Facilitator for secondary schools in Spring Independent School District, is reaching her students through a visual medium they're already familiar with - videos and TikTok trends. First, she creates short instructional videos outlining her art lessons, getting kids to look ahead to the "endgame." Then, for each video, she creates an even shorter TikTok, keeping up with the latest viral fads. 

During her 7 years working in education, she has taught visual art to grades 6-12 in schools located in both Louisiana and Texas. She currently teaches at Springwoods Village Middle School, an IB candidate school for the Middle Years Programme. During her time in Spring ISD, Ariel has presented district wide professional development workshops and developed curricula for secondary level visual art. She holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies and Fine Arts with a minor in Vocal Music and Humanities from Nicholls State University.  

Modding for Music Ed (6 - 6:30p)

Tan Truong, a music educator in Lamar Consolidated ISD, will present the kit he uses to optimize music rehearsals and recordings over Zoom, making the experience more interactive and higher quality. With many popular products such as microphones already sold out, Mr. Truong has developed a "best bang for your buck" equipment list including microphones, cameras, and more. 

For the past 23 years, Tan Truong has been the owner of West Side Recording Studio. His recording business has gained notoriety in the state of Texas for band, choir, and orchestra recordings.  Before going full time in to recording, he taught middle school band for 7 years at Hamilton Middle School and is currently back into teaching at Wertheimer Middle School while still working as a recording engineer and video producer in the evenings and weekends. He attended the University of Houston and holds a B.A in Music Education.

Survival Mode = Creative Mode (6:30 - 7p)

In Alief ISD, Julie Ryan and her theatre students have created original works using the collaborative gaming platforms Minecraft and Among Us, with support from Google Docs and other apps. These new "stages" have brought out the students' creativity, powers of observation, and collaboration skills - as well as offering a chance to teach about theatre production, marketing, and dramatic structure. 

Originally from Rochester, NY, Julie Ryan graduated from SUNY Brockport with degrees in Arts for Children - Theatre Emphasis and Theatre/Directing and obtained her Teaching Certification. She has been the theatre director at Kerr HS in Alief ISD for the past 14 years with this year marking her 20th year teaching. Julie and her students built the after-school program from 20 active kids a year to 150. The Kerr students are directors, teachers, actors, directors, crew heads, technical leaders and stage managers. Her students learn to teach those less experienced everything from acting and directing to drilling and sawing to using Photoshop and After Effects. While she is savvy in technology, she recognizes that her kids are so much better. Why not let them take control? A student who leads is a future leader in industry who has learned compassion, creativity and problem solving like no other.

Keeping the Arts at the Heart, Part 1

Tuesday, November 10, at 5:30 p.m. Central Time

Exact presentation order and times subject to change.

Educator Self-Care with a World Music Beat

Presented by MECA – Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts

The South African mega-hit "Jerusalema" by Master KG and Nomcebo Zikode fuses gospel and house music, and has swept the world as groups record themselves dancing and creating their own moves. MECA's Arts Program Director Armando Silva will examine the reasons why it became a viral hit. But really, this session is to get you moving in a group - yes, over Zoom. Mr. Silva will teach the first three 8-counts of movement, with room for personalization in the last 8. Part of the reason this song is such a hit is that anyone can participate. 

The Legacy of Samuel Bak: Art as History and Remembrance

Presented by Holocaust Museum Houston

Participants will explore the life and artwork of renowned artist and Holocaust survivor Samuel Bak through a virtual tour of our museum space. Attendees will learn more about free online resources and education programs available at Holocaust Museum Houston with a special focus on fine arts curriculum for 6-12 grade classrooms. 

More than Just Pictures in a Book: Mindfulness Zine Creation 

Presented by Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH)

A zine comes from the word magazine and is a self-published work usually reproduced via a photocopier or risograph machine. Zines can be about anything. In this hands-on session with Educators from Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH), learn how collaboration, the creative process, and documentation can promote social emotional learning for high school students in the virtual classroom. Learn tips and guidelines for engaging students by creating zines both physically and digitally and learn mindfulness techniques for making together in the digital landscape.

Keeping the Arts at the Heart, Part 2

Tuesday, December 8, at 5:30 p.m. Central Time

Exact presentation order and times subject to change.

Crafting the Classroom: Make Your Own Sketchbook

Presented by Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Learn about integrating contemporary craft into onsite and virtual classrooms while constructing a hands-on project using objects from around your home! Explore how HCCC creates both synchronous and asynchronous learning experiences to educate on the process, product and history of craft as well as opportunities for self-expression, problem-solving, and open-ended interpretation. During this session, learn how to create a simple sketchbook, which artists use to capture their ideas and plan artworks. Just be sure to have the following materials ready to go: 4 - 6 sheets of paper; 1 sheet of card stock; yarn: needle; pencil; awl (or a skewer or sharp tool); bone folder (or popsicle stick). Furthermore, we will discover how arts-integration fosters experimentation, grit, and an ability to think critically and creatively. Discuss tips to incorporate art-integrated activities and projects into your curriculum and connect to virtual lessons that highlight using everyday materials.

Arts for Learning Lab: Creating Dance where Personal and Cultural Identities Intersect

Presented by Young Audiences of Houston

Using an excerpt from Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street, “Hair,” we will explore how stories told through dance convey not only large ideas that address social themes, but also humanity and personal identity. Even a person’s hair reveals something about themselves and the emotions they feel. A person’s hair and style is an important clue about their culture, the group with which they self-identify, and how they view themselves.  In this session, this becomes the inspiration to design a short dance work.


The material will connect to SEL, ELA, and dance objectives for 5th-6th grade. Your classroom, in a sense, is a stage, that represents culture, ethnicity, belief systems and student’s self-awareness. The visual clues are there. The importance that the student attaches to these representations gives insight to the teacher and others around them.  Sharing those ideas through movement may open a door to deeper connection and empathy in the classroom.

Acting Out History:  Arts Integration for Kinesthetic Learners

Presented by A.D. Players

As we navigate the new normal of social distancing and virtual learning, it can be challenging to incorporate methods and activities to reach kinesthetic learners.  Theatre arts is the ideal platform for encouraging students of all learning styles to participate in active learning to meet curriculum goals and objectives. Improvisation in drama can foster creativity through self-expression and movement with the goal of engaging students in content while expanding focus and concentration. Join this interactive session where educators explore simple techniques and strategies for arts integration in social studies for the virtual or physical classroom.  Target Age:  Grades 3-6 but adaptations for 7-8

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Young Audiences, Inc., of Houston, a 501(c)3 organization, is the managing partner and fiscal agent of Houston Arts Partners.