Posts Tagged ‘Dennie Palmer Wolf’


Congratulations Dennie Palmer Wolf

June 29, 2020

YAHOOOO for Dennie!

Association of Teaching Artists congratulates Nam-Ni Chen, Kwame Scruggs, and Dennie Palmer Wolf on their recognitions!

Dennie was the consultant during the first Maine arts education census. Out of that work came a comprehensive look at arts education in Maine and the Imagination Intensive Communities project. Seven school districts including their greater communities were highlighted with the amazing arts educational opportunities they provide for learners of all ages. It was a pleasure to work with Dennie and her knowledge and experience were immeasurable. I’m thrilled to learn that a true friend of Maine is being recognized at the national level.

The Distinguished Service to the Field Award will be given to Nai-Ni Chen, the Innovation in Teaching Artistry Award will be given to Kwame Scruggs, and the Teaching Artist Ally Award will be given to Dennie Palmer Wolf. Read the full press release here.

  • The Distinguished Service to the Field Award, given to a long-tenured artist educator is awarded to Nai-Ni Chen whose 20-plus years of dance teaching artistry in the Tri-State area has impacted  more than 100 schools with both in-school residencies and assembly performances, in particular their partnership with the A. Harry Moore Laboratory School for students with disabilities.
  • The Innovation in Teaching Artistry Award given to a Teaching Artist demonstrating innovation and excellence in the field, is awarded to Kwame Scruggs founder and director of Alchemy in Akron, OH where he has developed a program to engage adolescent males through the telling, discussion, and interpretation of mythological stories and fairy tales told to the beat of an African drum.
  • The Teaching Artist Ally Award given to a professional or organization integral to the work of teaching artists, but not a teaching artist themselves is awarded to Dennie Palmer Wolf of WolfBrown whose research has been cited by arts education organizations nationally. Wolf’s recent article “Teaching Artists as Essential Workers: Respect, Collaboration and Heft” named teaching artists as the most vulnerable population in the arts education field and called for economic support during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Awards of Recognition given to teaching artists or organizations in acknowledgment of their contributions to the field of teaching artistry is given to Tim Lord and Jason Duchan at DreamYard in the Bronx, NY, Nicole Bond of the SMART Museum in Chicago, IL, Margie Reese of Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture in Wichita, TX, and Mandi Jackson from Music Haven in New Haven, CT.

The Awards Ceremony will be streamed on Thursday, July 23rd 7:00PM – 8:00PM EDT at as part of Lincoln Center “Activate” professional development series for Teaching Artists.

Established in 2002, the ATA Awards were the first in the nation to recognize artist educators. The ATA Awards seek to raise the visibility of Teaching Artists within the arts in education and community arts fields and in the organizations and institutions for which they work as well as honor innovation in teaching artistry.


Congratulations Dennie Palmer Wolf

December 9, 2013

Proud to know Dennie!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADennie worked with Maine arts education during 2008 when we conducted the state-wide arts education census. It is great to see her being recognized for her accomplishments on behalf of arts education! Congratulations Dennie!

Introduction for Dennie Palmer Wolf
2013 Recipient of the National Guild Service Award
National Guild for Community Arts Education
Elizabeth Whitford, Executive Director of Arts Corps
Chicago, November 2, 2013

The National Guild Service Award was established in 1989 and is conferred annually to an individual who has given exceptional service to the National Guild and to community arts education. Some of the prior recipients of the Award include: Margaret Perry, Michael Yaffe, Kalman Novak, Alice Pfaelzer, Azim and Lolita Mayadas, and Betty Allen.

The recipient of this year’s award is a leader in our field for whom I have great admiration. I am proud to present the 2013 National Service Award to Dennie Palmer Wolf in recognition of her lifelong dedication to advancing access to arts education and building the capacity of the community arts education field to increase its impact on the lives of students and communities.

Dennie is a principal researcher at WolfBrown, an international arts research and consulting firm. She has a doctorate from Harvard in developmental psychology, and she served as a researcher at Harvard Project Zero for more than a decade. At WolfBrown, Dennie pioneered evaluation that builds the capacities of schools, cities, and cultural organizations to support young people’s development as the next generation of thinkers, innovators, and creators. In recent years, Dennie particularly focused on supporting a number of city-wide and regional consortia and initiatives that build systemic efforts designed to support critical and creative learning in and out of the school day.

I first met Dennie a few years ago when I had a special opportunity to tour the Weill Music Institute’s Musical Connections program, for which she was serving as an evaluator. My first impression of Dennie was that she was cool. You know, like “New York cool”.

My second impression was that she was really smart. She was developing a rich, full-spectrum approach to evaluation in areas many of us doubt can be measured: the impact of a one-time, powerful music experience during a time of duress; the way arts learning might impact the activities a young person chooses to engage in throughout their day.

My final impression from that first meeting, perhaps counter to my stereotypes of “New York cool” and Carnegie Hall, was that she was completely unpretentious and accessible. I saw her on the floor engaging with kids naturally, welcoming of critical feedback and never defensive.

I was able to confirm these first impressions and get to know Dennie much better when I asked her to come help Arts Corps with some work we were doing to expand classroom-based arts assessments to include 21st century skills for Seattle Public School arts classes. This effort is part of our city-wide arts education initiative now called the Creative Advantage.

A significant part of this work involved collaborating with district arts teachers; some of whom, after years of feeling professionally marginalized, initially approached the task with wariness. We knew that one of the most important tasks of the project was to build trust with the teachers, and Dennie was able to do so quickly through her special mix of expertise, openness and responsiveness.

Dennie also proved to quickly learn our school district’s unique context and to be pragmatic without sacrificing quality. My initial inclination was that we needed to dump the old arts assessments and start anew. Dennie helped me recognize the value of what was already in place, and instead, look to build off of those strengths. Through Dennie, I learned to strive for incremental changes toward greater depth and quality in instruction and learning when working in a large system, such as the school district. And, through relationship-building, pragmatism and responsiveness to the context in which we were working, we have in fact exceeded our expectations around the level of quality of the new arts assessments in Seattle Public Schools today.

I know that many of you here today have also had the great privilege of working alongside Dennie, and I have no doubt there is much more you could add in celebration of her incredible service to this field. So without further ado, please join me in congratulating Dennie Palmer Wolf.


Advancing Arts Ed Report

August 27, 2013

June 5, 2013 release

In this day and age when we have the use of technology that provides learning opportunities almost all the time and from almost anywhere I am exploring ways to capitalize on that for the arts. A recently released report called Advancing Arts Education through an Expanded School Day: Lessons from Five Schools, caught my attention. The authors are David Farbman, Dennie Palmer Wolf and Diane Sherlock. You might remember Dennie’s name from Maine’s statewide arts census that Maine Arts Alliance for Arts Education and the Maine Department of Education published in 2008. Dennie was the lead consultant for the work.

I know what many of you might be thinking – “The arts after school?, How fair is that?” Before you go down that rabbit hole please check out the report. Read about the five schools who are utilizing the time to “improve the overall academic instruction”. I am certain that you are aware of the work that the Maine DOE has undertaken by identifying schools with a letter grade. This is not an easy topic or conversation for anyone. However, I don’t think that anyone would disagree that we all want students and our schools to be successful.

The report includes “Americans for the Arts believes that an expanded school day is one successful model for providing a high-quality education in the arts,” said Narric Rome, Senior Director of Federal Affairs & Arts Education at Americans for the Arts. “Through this report, education leaders can clearly see how five different schools have maintained high values for arts education, such as offering the arts to all students, offering core arts classes taught by certified teachers, and enriching the arts curriculum through partnerships in the community.” When you read about the five schools you will see that they are in urban areas of our country. What I suggest you ask yourself while reading the report is what you can learn from the work that they have undertaken?

One of the things that I miss from teaching art in the middle school is trying new ideas and discussing them with my colleagues. As you start off the school year why not consider a new approach, be pro-active around collaborative ideas so you can lead the change rather than being told what to do.

This report and others contain research that we can learn from and apply in multiple ways to our classrooms.


Living an Engaged Imaginative Life

October 12, 2012

Research study of your dreams

Those of us who engage in arts education often find the lined blurred between our careers as arts teachers and our avocation.

I really enjoyed working with Dennie Palmer Wolf during the statewide arts education census work that the Maine Alliance for Arts Education and the Maine Department of Education conducted during 2008. Dennie helped us launch our Imagination Intensive Community (IIC) work as a follow-up to the census. The IIC was recognized and received a National Best Practice Award from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

Dennie, whose primary focus is  presently with Wolf Brown, is an innovative thinker and her piece called Living an Engaged Imaginative Life is thought provoking. It is re-printed below with her permission. Thanks Dennie!

If a genie rose in a stream of twisted blue smoke and offered me, free of charge, an all expenses paid research study of my dreams, I would know immediately what to say. It would be a longitudinal study of three groups of young people in ordinary neighborhoods: those who become engaged with the arts, those who engage with science and technology, and others who are not particularly engaged. My army of co-researchers and I would track how these activities affect every aspect of these individuals’ lives. We would harness the growing powers of social media, asking young people to text us whenever they were engaged in their art form. A programmer of stunning insight and ability would work side by side with a gifted graphic designer to produce displays that showed a day, a month, or year in their lives. We would have the equivalent of topographical maps of what their artistic projects connected them to: real places, people, websites, books, movies, and performances. We would have the equivalent of MRIs of their imaginations. After early adulthood, we would visit them at regular intervals (like Michael Apted’s documentary Seven Up). We could look at their work, leisure, civic engagement, volunteering, and what they passed on to children or the people they mentored. In the end, we would have one way to answer, for one time and place, to two questions that preoccupy me: “What differences does living an engaged imaginative life make?” and “What differences does engagement in the arts make to the way we live our lives?”

What would you want to learn more about if you were given an all expenses paid research study of my dreams? I’d love to hear your ideas!


National Endowment for the Arts Webcast

February 21, 2012

Arts Education Standards & Assessment Focus of National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Roundtable and Webcast

On Valentine’s Day the NEA held an all-day webcast that was very interesting and engaging. The panels scheduled throughout the day shared relevant information to arts education. Many of the points made and the information shared about standards and assessment, Maine is either involved with doing or it is on our radar to explore or to put in place.

A recording of the entire day is scheduled to be available starting today, February 21, 2012 at this link At this link you can download the report (listed as National studey of arts educadtional assessment tools and strategies) NEA had released prior to the webcast: Improving the Assessment of Student Learning in the Arts – State of the Field and Recommendations. Also available is the agenda for the day, and information about the individuals who participated on the panels.

The following is information that provides an overview of what occurred during the day.

As the field of educational assessment advances, and as alternatives to standardized tests emerge, the tools used to evaluate student learning, such as portfolio reviews, are beginning to gain greater currency. Given this development, it is even more important to examine arts educational standards and assessment tools to ensure that arts learning can become a vital force for enhancing 21st -century skills. This is the first time that the NEA has taken a comprehensive look at this issue via the roundtable, webcast, and new research report, Improving the Assessment of Student Learning in the Arts: State of the Field and Recommendations.

NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman and the U.S. Department of Education Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement James H. Shelton III opened the roundtable. Following the welcome, a series of panels and presentations examined the latest trends, current practices, and future directions for arts learning standards and assessment methods.

Commissioned by the NEA from the evaluation firm WestEd, this national research report describes the current state of arts learning assessment tools and techniques. It provides a description of the current state of arts assessment from the perspective of two groups of stakeholders: district and school staff as one group, and policy-makers, arts organizations, and researchers as a second group. That report includes a literature review and an examination of stakeholders’ experiences with assessment, common practices, and needs of the field as identified by stakeholders.

Below are some of the quotes that I found that resonate with the work we are doing in the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative:

  • Stuart Elliott (Director, Board on Testing and Assessment (BOTA) of the National Research Council): “Standards don’t make a difference, implementation does“.
  • Sammy Hoi (Otis College of Art and Design): “Three keys: 1) Understand change 2) Shift from goods to services and 3) Readiness to solve problems
  • Dennie Palmer Wolf (Wolf/Brown Associates) : “When we talk about the arts we need to look at the long haul as well. Cultural change takes a fairly long time.”
  • Phil Shephard (Project Manager, National Core Arts Standards): “The National Core Arts Standards will include a web-based environment with teacher practice examples, student portfolios, and the ability to make changes to the document so it won’t become stagnant.”
  • Nancy Rubino (College Board): “The research we did for the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards including the review of arts standards from 15 countries – research structures, learning outcomes, guiding principals, and where possible assessment strategies. Noteworthy was learning outcomes that featured students connections to other avenues. China art and emotion and art and culture and art and science.  Also, attitudes and values, connect the arts to real learning contexts”.
  • Unknown: “Arts ed is prepared to lead the way when it comes to educational reform.”

I hope you will download the WestEd report to learn how it can inform your communication and decision-making at the local level around teaching, learning and assessment in the arts.

I don’t recall who said this but I do love it: CCO – Chief Creative Officer – Arts Teachers!

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