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CAN: Teacher Leader Project

Dance Teacher Leaders Selected (CAN) Press Release.  CAN Teacher Leaders were selected in Spring 2022 for NDEO via an application and adjudication process by the project leads You can view the accepted CAN Teacher Leaders here.

The National Art Education Association (NAEA), in partnership with the Educational Theater Association (EdTA), the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), and the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) is launching Connected Arts Networks (CAN), a five-year grant initiative to create nationwide virtual Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) with educators in visual arts, music, theater, dance and media arts.

 The overarching vision for CAN is to build a sustainable model of professional learning for arts educators to strengthen their pedagogy, instruction and leadership skills in order to better serve students. This project is modeled after the successful structure of the PLC program in New York City, initiated by the Office of Arts and Special Projects (OASP), another partnering organization.

In year one of this multi-year project, we recruited a passionate and diverse group of educators to create a national professional learning community of Teacher Leaders. In 2023, the initial PLC of Teacher Leaders received specialized virtual training to build their capacity to address diversity, equity, inclusion, and social-emotional learning within dance instruction.  In 2024, each Teacher Leader will facilitate their own virtual PLC of dance educators of their same art discipline and student grade levels in these same content areas, while also emphasizing the importance of leadership skills. We view these content areas as the most pressing for dance educators at this moment in time and believe that we can positively impact students by creating opportunities for dance educators to learn from and with each other.

On behalf of the project, each national partner association (visual arts, theater, music and dance, all pictured above) selected 15 Teacher Leaders. Upon being selected, Teacher Leaders participated in a Project Orientation in May 2022, a Summer Institute in July 2022, and starting in September 2022, monthly meetings with their PLC. The goal was that by June 2023, each PLC Teacher Leader would be prepared to facilitate their own virtual PLC, which will include 10 dance educators from around the country seeking a peer community.

Key Content Areas for Professional Learning

  • Justice, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (JDEI)
  • Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) 
  • Teacher leadership in standards-based arts instruction and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)

Overall Goals of the Project

  • To develop highly effective arts educators, building their capacity to address ED&I and SEL in their standards-based arts instruction through sustained, intensive, and job-embedded blended professional learning.
  • To develop a local and national cadre of Teacher Leaders in the arts by building their content knowledge and leadership skills in order to expand the impact of arts learning for students and their communities. 
  • To develop accessible arts-based instructional materials, strategies, and toolkits to disseminate to arts educators nationwide, including synchronous and asynchronous professional development programs and digital resources.

Questions? Contact Susan McGreevy-Nichols at