The 2021 Arts Education Conference: Rest and Renew was a thank you for everything that you—our arts teachers, partners, and teaching artists—have done to bring arts education to our students during the most difficult of times.

Again and again this school year, we saw you go above and beyond to provide nurturing, creative, vibrant spaces for students to express themselves creatively—and in doing so, find a safe outlet to relieve stress and process the complex emotions and thoughts that this past year has either provoked or magnified.

On April 16th, 2021, the CPS Department of Arts Education partnered with Ingenuity to create an event dedicated to giving you that same space. At our half-day virtual Conference, we offered a variety of calming, centering, and energizing creative experiences that helped arts teachers and arts partners reconnect with one another, engage in restorative artmaking, productively process and reflect on the past year, and look to the future with renewed spirit and hope.

Couldn’t make it to the Conference? Want to see the sessions you missed? Good news! All Conference session recordings are now available for viewing, including our amazing keynote presentation and our closing session. Click below to access all videos along with the accompanying handouts and slides!*

*Unfortunately, no clock hours are available for recorded Conference sessions. Please contact cpsarts@cps.edu with any questions or concerns.

2021 Arts Education Conference: Rest & Renew Sessions

Click on the headings below to access the recorded sessions as well as all accompanying handouts and slides.

Opening Remarks and Keynote Presentation

Following brief remarks by members of the CPS Department of Arts Education and Ingenuity, Heather Ireland Robinson opens up the Conference as she riffs on the theme Rest and Renew. Heather shares real-life stories about how she has survived and thrived this past year leading a non-profit organization and a family of five. From struggles and tears to triumph and laughter, she bares it all, including ideas on how to find joy and strength through the work of authentic leadership and creativity. Renowned cellist Tomeka Reid and student pianist Devin Shaw (Whitney Young HS) entertain participants at the start of the speech and end with an original tune composed on the spot in response to Heather’s keynote.

Breathing to Create Change

Led by CPS dance teachers Elisa Foshay, Gina Spears, and M.K. Victorson, reflect on the school year and then experience a guided movement meditation. ​Through guided practice, you will learn to use breath as a tool to boost (as well as balance) energy. Designed to share movement and breath as a vehicle for renewal and reflection, the session culminates in a discussion of classroom connections to the activities.

Creative Connections: Music, the Arts, and SEL

Explore the power of music as it intertwines with art, poetry, and social-emotional learning. CPS music teachers Jenai Jenkins, Frank Cademartori, and Leo Park will lead you through interactive activities and explore research promoting positive health-based outcomes for adults and students alike. Leave the session with lesson ideas and an appreciation for the social, emotional, and cognitive benefits of incorporating music into your own and your students’ lives.

Once Upon Our Time Capsule: Encapsulating Our Past Year

Led by Chicago Children’s Theatre teaching artists Lizzy May, Terry Guest, and Micah Figueroa, participants are guided through the process of honoring and releasing the past year and imagining and stepping courageously into a new future. Each participant will create a time capsule of their strength and bravery and share their experiences, reflecting their heroism to one another.

Write It Out: A Self-Care and Journaling Workshop

Multidisciplinary artist Rhonda Wheatley leads this exploration of journaling as a multi-faceted tool for healing, growth, and personal transformation. Learn how journaling can help you move through blocks and limitations, uplift your energy, cultivate creativity, manifest your goals, and tap into your authenticity. Explore tools, prompts, and tactics for sustaining a self-affirming journaling practice, for beginners and experienced journalers alike.

Closing Session

The Conference closing session begins with short guided breathing technique/meditations led by CPS music educator Dave Stahlberg. Participants then engage in a creative reflection through mantra-making, and lastly, are treated to a musical presentation by the CPS Arts Student Voice Committee (ASVC), featuring an original Conference theme song by R&B/soul artist Cole DeGenova with lyrics inspired by the ASVC!


For a complete brochure of all 2021 Conference sessions with links to recordings and resources, click below!