by Deborah Walden

For a few days each summer, Belmont University halls and classrooms, normally packed with college students and professors, will be filled with Tennessee teachers from around the state. The Tennessee Arts Academy, an annual program sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Education, invites educators to campus for an immersion in the arts. It brings in an impressive list of faculty from around the country to equip teachers with new approaches, skills, and questions for the classroom.

The academy offers separate tracks for elementary/lower middle school teachers and upper middle/high school teachers. Participants take part in group sessions according to their particular subject area in visual art, music, or theatre courses.  The academy allows teachers to become students in small classroom settings with experts in their field. Educators also benefit from “musing” sessions of introspective talks from art professionals. Featured speakers include visual artist Harold Gregor, conductor Colonel Arnald D. Gabriel, film director and writer Jay Russell, and composer and lyricist Richard Sherman. Like many of the activities at the Tennessee Arts Academy, musings are free and open to the public. 

Teachers, parents, and art lovers will enjoy the visual arts exhibitions and events at the academy. Nashville Arts Magazine featured painter Barry Buxkamper on the memorable cover of our March 2012 issue. Buxkamper, a veteran educator and lifelong artist, will give an artist talk on July 10 at the Leu Art Gallery. The talk will focus on Buxkamper’s Inside Out/Outside In exhibit at the gallery. Tennessee’s Best of the Best Student Art Exhibition puts the work of talented students on display, while Connection: Tennessee Art Education Association Member Exhibition shows off the work of teachers. Music fans will enjoy Conrad Tao’s piano performance on July 8 and the soothing notes of the Nashville Singers on July 12. These memorable events are all free and open to the general public and offer just a sampling of the creativity and passion that fuels the Tennessee Arts Academy.

Teachers, homeschool parents, and interested community members are welcome to participate in Visitor’s Day at the academy on July 11. Visitors can attend classes and activities throughout the day to take part in enriching programs in the arts. 

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