Art Education and Covid-19: A Letter From AOEU Founder and CEO, Derek Balsley


Dear Art teachers everywhere,

Good morning, I’m Derek Balsley, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at The Art Education University (AOEU).

I know that today you likely find yourself in uncharted territory, both personally and professionally. With the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), your school administration or state government might have already chosen to close your school or are at least talking about it.

You are being asked to pull the rug out from under all of your plans, your students, and the rest of the school year. This leaves you feeling overwhelmed, unsure of the path forward, and maybe even a little isolated.

These are hard times, but they are not impossible times.

First, I want you to know that you’re not alone. The entire team at AOEU sees you. We hear you. We are you. We know the questions swirling around in your mind: How can I reach my students? How can I demonstrate from home? What if my students don’t have Internet access or art materials? What am I going to do at home all day long?

You are justified in all of your feelings and uncertainties. You are not expected to know all of the answers. How could you?

Second, I want to share with you a few specific steps that AOEU is taking today to make your life easier. We have been leading the world of online visual art education for more than a decade, and I’m confident that at least one of these offerings will help you on your journey.

1. Weekly Coronavirus (COVID-19) Webinar: To support art teachers everywhere, we’re holding a recurring webinar to help art teachers find success outside the art room. The webinar will be held weekly throughout the crisis and will cover topics like teaching online, remote work, lessons you can teach from home, and self-care during a crisis. It’s also important that you have incredibly timely and relevant ideas to help you find success during this period.

2. Free articles, podcasts, and other useful resources: We’ve curated our best and most relevant content from over the years, including NEW content published in just the past few weeks, into one handy spot. This content is completely free, just for art teachers, and will help you to be more successful working from home!

3. $0 Master’s Degree Application Fee: Many art teachers would like to use this time to start a master’s degree in art education. AOEU is temporarily waiving our standard $100 application fee to make applying as quick and easy as possible.

4. Flexible Online Course Policies: With conditions changing on the ground rapidly, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Hayek has directed faculty to fully leverage AOEU’s flexible assignment policies to the benefit of our entire student body. Course extensions will be granted to students in need, and as always, students can transfer to a future section or fully withdraw from a course at no cost prior to the course end date.

5. $150 Toward PRO or FLEX: As art teachers adjust to working from home, finding online-optimized curriculum and professional development is going to be difficult. To make it less challenging, AOEU is providing $150 off of any annual subscription to FLEX Curriculum or PRO Learning for individual art teachers!

6. Streamlined District/PD Adoption: For school districts adopting curriculum or professional development district-wide, AOEU has taken steps to dramatically simplify and speed up the process to help school districts get PRO Learning and  FLEX Curriculum in the hands of their art teachers as quickly as possible. To get yourself and your colleagues access to these critical online solutions, have your administrator complete this form as quickly as possible.

More information on each of these items can be found on our coronavirus crisis page. Please stay tuned to this page as we will be updating it each day during the crisis to serve as a hub for everything related to the pandemic.

The world has changed drastically in the past several weeks but AOEU has not. We have always been prepared to support art educators and their students over the long haul, regardless of their circumstances. Our mission is simple: “To grow amazing art teachers… at every stage of their career.” It’s clear to me today that art teachers everywhere are indeed at a very unique stage of their career.

In the spirit of AOEU’s continued mission, and in the hopes of making a genuinely positive impact on the lives of K-12 art teachers everywhere, I hope this letter contains at least one thing that can make the coming days and weeks better and easier for you.

Derek Balsley
Founder & CEO
The Art of Education University

P.S. A heartfelt thank you for being you—an art educator who wants the best for their students and themselves in a world that’s changing rapidly. You are truly making a difference, regardless of whether you are physically in front of your students or not. Be well, be safe, and stay strong. This too shall pass.

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Derek Balsley

Derek Balsley is AOEU’s Founder. He is an entrepreneur and branding/CX expert who advocates for supporting lifelong learners.

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