Part of our annual Summer Forum, Lincoln Center Education's Teaching Artist Labs offer unparalleled professional development experiences for educators and artists. The ten-day training sessions are designed for local, national, and international teaching artists of all disciplines who work in education and community settings, and who want to develop or deepen their teaching and leadership skills. As we prepare for this year's sessions—which will take place at Lincoln Center July 9 through 27—we invited previous participants to share their experiences with us, including the impact of the Labs on their teaching practice.

Interested in attending a Teaching Artist Lab? Apply now.

Amanda Dunne Acevedo (2014)

The Lab ignited a passion I had for providing concrete, accessible, and innovative tools, resources, and experiential training to teaching artists at all stages in their careers, and I brought so many takeaways back into my work at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, Illinois, and Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. It also gave me a new view of myself as a teaching/artist, helping me embrace the concept of leadership and authenticity and pushing me out of the role of "just the art teacher" and into leadership opportunities. I have grown as a leader in the school community, bringing artistic thought processes into professional discussions and engaging other teachers in that process.

Roman Baca (2016)

Thanks to the amazing insight and guidance of the program facilitators and my fellow teaching artists, I learned how to develop a unique curriculum that draws on my experiences as a classical ballet dancer and U.S. Marine and Iraq War Veteran. I was immediately able to use the curriculum, which introduces students to the art of choreography and its connection to the experiences of war, leading a dance workshop at the Noble Greenborough School in Massachusetts and at the University of Saint Joseph in Connecticut. In 2017, I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to travel to the United Kingdom, where I'm currently working with war veterans from Britain.

Amanda Beagle (2017)

The TA Development Lab inspired me to develop my own educational outreach program to offer alongside my concert and album, The Italian-American Songbook. The resulting workshop introduces students to concepts of immigration using stories from the first wave of Italian immigration in the late 1890s, including my own family's story. I plan to offer this program as an educational component to schools to foster an appreciation for America's history as a melting pot and to demonstrate the importance of family stories in shaping cultural identities. Participating in the Lab helped me dig deeper into why I choose specific songs to perform, and how I can create focused relevant educational experiences to accompany my program.

Steven Herring (2017)

I am always grateful for my participation in the Lab. Thanks to Lincoln Center Education's unwavering focus on noticing deeply, I have developed a workshop targeted towards grades 7–12 entitled "The Big Conversation" in which students have a safe space to discuss the complexities of race, gender, and gender equality. Also, in the past, I was apprehensive about working with grades K–3, but LCE gave me the tools to connect with this age group. Using playfulness combined with sensory games, I have helped students identify and connect to their responses to music. As Director of School and Community Engagement for Bridge Arts Ensemble, it is imperative that I understand the various complexities of the teaching artist. I thank LCE for continuing to ask and answer the tough questions.

Melanie Hsu (2016)

Since participating in the Lab, I've become the Community Organizing Director at Girls Rock Philly, where I work to amplify the voices of girls, trans, and gender-nonconforming youth through the radical process of unapologetic sound-making. At Play On Philly, an El Sistema–inspired music program, I teach "Identity, Power, and Music," a media literacy course designed to sharpen students' abilities to think critically and courageously about the sociopolitical contexts in which they live and make music. My time at the Lab became the foundation of my educational practices and pedagogies within these community spaces. I have come to understand teaching as a profound study in the art of asking questions, the art of lesson plan construction, the art of reflection, and the art of play. I know that my teachers and classmates from Lincoln Center Education have deeply impacted my personal journey of curiosity, creativity, courage, vulnerability, and play in the classroom, the community, and beyond.

José Lomeli (2014; 2017)

When I first attended the Lab, I was completing a bachelor's degree in classical guitar performance, searching for examples to help me develop an artistic ethos. I returned home and immediately taught a workshop for Chicago's Learnapalooza festival, where I shared stories of the Summer Forum with colleagues, and my guitar students noticed a reshaping of my approach that emphasized experience and dialogue. Lincoln Center Education gave me a philosophical and experiential grounding in preparing workshops as artistic encounters, which I've used in teaching as well as in my own artistic practice. I have since participated in classical guitar festivals at home and abroad, always traveling with a copy of the 2001 book Variations on a Blue Guitar by Maxine Greene, who was LCE's philosopher-in-residence for 25 years.

José Vélez is Associate Director, Teaching Artist Faculty, for Lincoln Center Education.

Learn more about professional development opportunities at Lincoln Center Education's Summer Forum and apply now for Teaching Artist Labs.