December 4, 2021

Central New York art teachers gather at SUNY Cortland

‘A beautiful collaboration’

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Homer Junior High school art teachers Brookley Spanbauer, left, and Lauren Nels talk Wednesday during the Art educators Conference Day at SUNY Cortland.

Wednesday’s Art Educators Conference Day helped Homer Junior High School art teacher Lauren Nels appreciate the art teacher community of Central New York.

“It’s a sense of community that we have as teachers with each other. We’re local and most of the people here are from Central New York so it’s something that is being fostered by having this event” Nels said.

Nels was one of the nearly 40 art teachers from across Central New York who attended the conference at the school’s Dowd Fine Arts Center and Old Main studios.

Teachers toured the center and art studios and then attended workshops for different art media. It also showcased the university’s work and laid the foundation for future collaboration with schools, said Jeremiah Donovan, the art and art history department chairman.

“This event is an attempt to develop more of a connection in the community. Our hope is when people are interested in arts, they will think of something right on our doorstep,” he said. Nels and Brookley Spanbauer, both Homer Junior High School art teachers and SUNY Cortland alumnae, had the idea to create a day where teachers could meet and collaborate, Donovan said. The two got Sunshine Miller, Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services coordinator of cooperative enrichment services, and Donovan in contact.

Port Byron Central School District art teacher and SUNY Cortland alumnus Byron Williams said the event inspired him to bring more collaborative art teachings to his school district.

“I think it challenges students to step up a little bit and work with other people to develop ideas,” he said.

Spanbauer said she appreciated the connection built between SUNY Cortland and Homer Junior-Senior High School, including a gallery display of her school’s art the university will host in May.

“What we have locally in our schools and to be able to connect that our local university, that is so supportive of the things we’re doing,” Spanbauer said. “It’s been a really beautiful collaboration.”