BIG Changes & a Job Opening

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Big, exciting changes are coming.

The application is now open to fill the position of Executive Director of Art Feeds Joplin. Wondering how we got here? Doesn’t mean I’m going anywhere, read below for the full story.

For the past 5 years I have had the privilege of pouring my whole heart into the little artists of the Joplin community. As a startup, Art Feeds gets to do the things we motivate our students to do each day- build from scratch, grow creative capacities, take risks, remain innovative and try new things. At Art Feeds, we never say, “This is how it’s always been done.” We always challenge ourselves to be better, the same challenge we present to our students in our weekly programs. Over 5 years ago, Art Feeds started as a happy accident sparked by one (kind, creative, resilient) little boy. We were then challenged by a natural disaster to move from special needs and behavioral disorder classrooms to reach all students in schools. It was there we recognized that therapeutic art and creative education is needed to reach the WHOLE child in education. It has grown to impact over 21,000 students to date. Surrounded by an amazing team of people, we have created programming with BIG effects that create community-based change.

Whether it is a large identifiable event like a tornado, a chronic trauma such as not being fed regularly at home or simply a child struggling with social anxiety- we know that our expressive programming helps build confidence, grow creative capacities, instill grit, promote teamwork, provide positive adult influence, expand resiliency and more. Consider a student who is facing hardships they should never have to face in the home. This child will hardly be prepared for learning if he or she is not mentally and emotionally settled. Expression helps with this. The world our first graders will inherit doesn’t exist yet- the most powerful skill we can give our students is the ability to creatively problem-solve. This starts in our classrooms. Art Feeds is a place where students are challenged and encouraged by the fact that there are “no wrong answers”. Art Feeds “Art World” is place where they can be free to express and grow creatively. Wonder how that works? You can check it out in their words here.

From the solid programming and lessons our team has built over 4 years, we have developed 4 semesters of core elementary curriculum as well as curriculum buckets tailored for specific students, such as Special Needs, Extra Love, Pre-School, Workshops, Outside events and Trauma Response. Although most don’t see this, all of this is housed in an online comprehensive system we call “Claude” that is accessible to all Art Feeds Educators. I won’t bore you with the details, but it’s a really meaningful tool we built from scratch that has changed the function of our programming. It was a lot of hard work, but we built Claude because we knew our lessons and the Art Feeds Method could make change in communities beyond Joplin. The kind of hard work that is worth it because we know how powerful children’s minds can be. In November of 2013, we launched Art Feeds National, making the programming that is in Joplin available to communities nationwide. Communities can now become a Chapter and implement Art Feeds programming. As our first step in expansion, we used “Claude” to provide 12 weeks of Trauma Curriculum to over 100 Educators and 1,200 students in Moore, OK in Spring 2014. Here we saw the potential of Art Feeds to flourish in someone else’s hands. Stick with me here, I’m getting to the point I swear.

It was one of the biggest moments of my life this spring on-site in Moore, OK, when I walked into Briarwood Elementary and saw the students’ Art Feeds Art Packs lining the wall. As I walked down the hallway, students ran to their Art Packs yelling excitedly, “It’s Art Feeds time!”- the same reaction we hear from students in Joplin, MO programs that we’ve invested years into carefully crafting and nurturing. This was astounding and wonderful to see Art Feeds working outside of my two hands. This fall, I’m proud to announce that Carthage, MO and Moore, OK are developing as sustainable Art Feeds chapters. As these chapters develop, Art Feeds Joplin is reaching more students than ever- 5,500 this Fall in 16 schools and 3 children’s organizations and is becoming it’s own Art Feeds Chapter.

Art Feeds has been the biggest journey for me. My passion is creating change in the lives of children, the vehicle to getting there is creativity, expression and art. I can remember the first time I trained someone to teach Art Feeds lessons- I was petrified. Would they know how to encourage the students? To build them up? To grow their confidence? To help them problem solve? Would they be as passionate about this as me? Those fears were stamped out when I saw the same investment and joy flow from the first educator in the first Art Feeds classroom. We now have hundreds of educators with that same passion. The same thing happened as I let go of different arms of Art Feeds Joplin and gave them to people more capable than I. Curriculum flourished at the hands of our rock star Director of Creative Education, Johanna DeLong. Social Media and Web built a life of its own and much more from the Brain of our Director of Visual Content Brooke LeMasters. It has been reaffirmed for me in these years that when I take the risk to let go and trust others with duties (even if it is painful at times) that I arrogantly thought that only I could do, Art Feeds grows better than ever. I have been the Executive Director for Art Feeds in Joplin for the past 5 years and invested deeply in a community that I LOVE dearly.

My passion remains the same- creating change in the lives of children. That is why I am excited to announce that in order to grow Art Feeds and impact more children than ever, I will be focusing full time as the CEO of Art Feeds National (a job I have been splitting with Art Feeds Joplin Executive Director for the past year). This allows me to again take a great risk that I know will have a great payoff. To hire a bold, creative, passionate, innovative individual for the Executive Director position of Art Feeds Joplin to Lead our thriving programs. This doesn’t mean I won’t still be a part of Art Feeds Joplin, I’ll be here to support our Joplin programming as I focus on new communities working to launch Art Feeds Chapters. My heart is here with the community and the students, I’m just allowing my heart to grow. It is our goal to impact over 10,000 children in 6 communities by this time next year- something that blows my mind from the 19 year old stumbling through this thing years ago. This is only possible because of a community that has embraced our crazy idea and believed that in our students there is a future powerful beyond measure.

So grateful for your love and support as we search for the best person to fill the position as Art Feeds Joplin Executive Director! If you think that’s you- I encourage you to apply here.

If you’re interested in Art Feeds chapters, check out our chapters page & check in on progress in Moore, OK and Carthage, MO.

Love Naively. Give Generously. Be Foolishly Compassionate.

Meg Bourne-Hulsey

Founder | CEO

Art Feeds National

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