Arts Education Professional Summer Learning Community

Unlocking the Wonders of Arts Education

Arts Education has disappeared from classrooms, despite years of research proving that a focus on the arts improves students’ academic achievement in other subjects, promotes critical thinking and social and emotional development, helps reduce violence and disciplinary actions, and strengthens communities. These gains are disproportionately positive for students of color and schools that primarily serve low-income families. Many states have enacted arts education mandates but implementation falls far short, often because of a lack of time, budget, and people.

Meanwhile, cultural institutions such as museums, theaters, dance companies, and parks, offer stellar arts programming and are seeking education partners. How might we effectively bring these groups together to help students thrive in the classroom and in communities? What can we learn from schools and cultural institutions that are already innovating to excellence in arts education?

The goal of the Arts Education PLC is to convene educators and cultural leaders who are interested in connecting their students to arts programming in the classroom, off-site, and online. Sessions will include arts practitioners and leaders in arts education discussing curriculum, funding, partnerships, and public policy considerations.

Planned, led, and facilitated by NSLA Field Consultants, PLC members:

  • Share best practices, respond to the latest thinking, and come together for knowledge, professional renewal, and growth
  • Hold quarterly training meetings and one in-person all-day retreat at NSLA’s Annual Conference in Washington DC
  • Develop a list of funding, partnership, and curriculum resources to share with the field

Who Should Join the Arts Education PLC?

  • Leaders and program directors of cultural institutions
  • Schools
  • Education centers and nonprofit organizations serving youth ages K-12

Join Our PLC Today! Email PLC Leader, Kayla Oakes at

PLC Team Leader, Kayla Oakes

Following her tenure as Executive Director of Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts, Kayla Oakes currently serves as the Director of Education & Artistic Engagement for Field Arts & Events Hall in Port Angeles, WA. A teaching artist herself, Kayla holds a BFA in Dance from the University of California at Santa Barbara and maintains a unique artistic lens which compliments over 10 years of administrative leadership experience in the performing arts industry. She’s held artistic and operational positions at various organizations and institutions including Boise Contemporary Theater, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Ballet Idaho Academy, Boise State University, Eagle Performing Arts Center, Balance Dance Company, the Port Angeles City Ballet and Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts.

Through these diverse experiences, Kayla has established an extensive background in nonprofit management, program development, curation, event planning, communications, education outreach, community relations, fundraising and grant writing. A passion for inclusive and accessible education drives Kayla professionally and she continues to teach modern dance technique for The Sylvia Joyce Wanner School while also serving on the Board of Directors for both the Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts and the Port Angeles Education Foundation.