University of Vermont

Office of Community-Engaged Learning (CELO)

Community Engagement through Art Education

Erika White Receives Outstanding New Service-Learning Faculty Award

Erika White and her family
Erika White (right) with her family after at the CUPS (Community-University Partnerships and Service-Learning) award ceremony. Erika received the Outstanding New Service Learning Faculty Award.

Erika White focuses her teaching in a way that creates a path of inquiry and understanding of art education in the larger educational and human context.

With a commitment to providing artistic expression opportunities for all learners, including English language learners and students with disabilities, she coordinates and teaches Art Education at UVM. The program is a collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the College Education and Social Services (CESS). 

“Service learning is a wonderful way for our art education students to share their love of visual art with the community and apply what they are learning in their coursework in an authentic way,” she says. “Most of our art education students have been impacted by the arts in the communities where they grew up, and they are eager to give back to the community. Our service learning courses encourage meaningful work where art, community, and building strong relationships come together.”

After serving as a Faculty Fellow for Service-Learning in 2016, Erika worked to strengthen the service learning component of EDAR 177 Curriculum and Practicum in Elementary Art. “Our community partners for the last few years have been the Integrated Arts Academy (IAA) and the Fleming Museum,” Erika explains. “As part of the course, students teach an afterschool art class at the Fleming Museum."

“The EDAR 177 class was an incredibly valuable resource for augmenting my teaching ability and fueling my excitement for arts education," said Ashley Bertolino (pictured below). "The Fleming Museum is a dynamic setting to engage in with students about the arts and it encourages creative thinking.”

UVM Junior Ashley Bertolino instructs young artists in making masks during Erika White’s Art Education class in the Fleming Museum's education workshop.

Erika also worked to designate EDAR 284 Alternative Sites as a service-learning course, collaborating with a new instructor to align the course with service-learning pedagogy. "This course had been running with the community internship connection for many years," she explains, "but we worked to clarify the goals and highlight the reciprocal aspect of working with community partners.”

In the Alternative Sites course, students are placed with community partners outside of the public school to infuse arts education in some way. Partners include the King Street Center, Sara Holbrook Community Center, Burlington City Arts (BCA), Art from the Heart (through BCA at UVM Medical Center), Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center, and others.

Service-learning is known to be a high impact practice for students, providing meaningful community engagement that connects academic courses with a variety of service projects. Supported by community partners, students have the opportunity to prepare for their lives after graduation by deploying their academic skills within these community partnerships. Together, about 50 faculty members, 100 courses, and up to 200 community partners create real-world learning experiences for UVM students. 

Experiential Learning

The art education program is designed to serve students with a passion for art and education.

"UVM's Art Education program taught me to be a leader and create change in the community, and empower today's youth to express themselves," says Cydney Williams (’16). 

Courses are small and focused on personalized attention. Students grow into accomplished artists and experienced teachers. Graduates also satisfy requirements for teacher licensure in art education for grades Pre-K through 12.

Experiential learning in the classroom is the backbone of the program. Most of the courses have a fieldwork component known as a practicum. The culminating experience for students is a 12-credit full-time student teaching practicum (internship) in a local public school.

"Art Education at UVM helped me to become aware of the impact I can have, as a human, artist, and educator, on our community and world," says Qi Ying Feng (’17).

To learn more, visit the Art Education website.