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Wyoming Educators Participate in UW Art Museum’s Teacher Leader Institute

July 27, 2020
person presenting to a room full of people
Robert Martinez, a Northern Arapaho artist and recent recipient of the Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award, gives an airbrush demonstration to the 2019-2020 Teacher Leader Institute summer intensive educator cohort in summer 2019. (UW Art Museum Photo)

Fifteen educators from across the state recently participated in a Teacher Leader Institute pilot program designed by the University of Wyoming Art Museum education team.

Formerly known as the Summer Teaching Institute, the Teacher Leader Institute is now a yearlong program that includes both in-person and online learning. The pilot program began in summer 2019 with an in-person intensive that offered a mix of hands-on art making and deep exploration of museum and arts learning. During the year, the cohort met monthly via Zoom to discuss and apply the theories and methods directly in the members’ classrooms. Students participated with in-depth discussions through practicing the inquiry model and deep-looking techniques used within the museum.

Like many programs across the country, the Teacher Leader Institute had to quickly change plans due to health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although another in-person intensive was scheduled for this summer, the group ultimately met via Zoom, over the course of a month, for biweekly lectures, updates and check-ins. The activities included an artist talk by Mark Ritchie, a UW professor of printmaking; a deep dive and discussion about William Kentridge, whose exhibition is currently rescheduled for spring 2021 in the UW Art Museum galleries; an advocacy and leadership panel with national, state and local experts; and artistic practice to hone participants’ skills.

The cohort completed a print exchange with the theme of transformation. One print from each participant, including works by the museum educators and Ritchie, will become part of the UW Art Museum’s teaching collection.

“This was such a rewarding experience,” says Laura Robison, a music educator in Laramie. “There are so many benefits to stepping out of your comfort zone and engaging with art -- even in or maybe especially in -- these crazy times.”

The UW Art Museum invites educators who are interested in using the arts in their classrooms or who want to develop leadership skills, alongside a network of like-minded colleagues, to look for the next cohort that will start in summer 2021.

The 2019-2020 Teacher Leader Institute participants, listed by their hometowns and schools, were:

Buffalo -- Steven Heil, Buffalo High School; and Adam Helzer, Buffalo High School and Clear Creek Middle School.

Casper -- Barbara Jones, Manor Heights Elementary School; and Amy McCormick, Summit Elementary School.

Cheyenne -- David Winsch, Sunrise Elementary School.

Chugwater/Glendo -- Margaret Jensen, Chugwater Schools and Glendo Schools.

Cody -- Paige Bacon, Pearson Online Learning.

Douglas -- Emily Jensen, Douglas Middle School.

Jackson -- Shannon Borrego, Jackson Hole High School.

Laramie -- Cassa Massine, Linford Elementary School; Sharon Mathieson*, UW Lab School; and Laura Robison, Linford Elementary School.

Pinedale -- Jennifer Smith, formerly of Pinedale High School, now at UW.

Rock Springs -- Shari Kumer*, Black Butte High School.

Sundance -- Tobi Miller*, Sundance Elementary School and Sundance High School.

(*participant completed 2019 only)

For more information, call Katie Christensen, curator of education and statewide engagement, at (307) 766-6622 or email; visit the UW Art Museum website at; like the museum on Facebook; and follow on Instagram.

The UW Art Museum collects, exhibits and interprets art to inspire creativity and nurture lifelong learning for the people of Wyoming and beyond. The museum is located in the Centennial Complex at 2111 E. Willett Drive in Laramie, although it is temporarily closed. Normal hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday hours are extended to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

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