Kelley DeCleene, Ph.D.

Adjunct Instructor

Hi everyone! I’m Kelley DeCleene, now from Golden, Colorado, where my family and I thoroughly enjoy mountain life. I grew up, went to school, and spent most of my teaching career in Wisconsin. Both my undergraduate degree and my doctorate are from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

I’ve been an art teacher for over 30 years, teaching everything from Kindergarten to college. I am a National Board Certified teacher, and would highly recommend the process to other teachers. I got an adaptive certification with my initial license, so I have always had a passion for working with students who learn differently. I believe strongly in the power of the arts to reach diverse learners. While in Wisconsin, I developed, implemented, and ran an art program for 10-to 21-year-old students with moderate to profound disabilities. During this time, I also became a certified autism specialist. This experience inspired my doctoral work, examining the intersection of art education, special education, and the learning sciences (an educational psychology area). I present and lead workshops on this topic nationally. I have also been actively involved in the Art and Special Education groups at both the state and national levels. I was recently honored to accept the NAEA Beverly Levett-Gerber Lifetime Achievement Award in Art and Special Education.

In addition to teaching at AOEU, other employment ventures after leaving the K-12 world include teaching Inclusive Art Classrooms to preservice art teachers at Metropolitan State University in Denver; teaching Art and Autism, Visual Literacy, and Social Studies and Creative Art Methods at Colorado Christian University. In addition, prior to the COVID fiasco, I was the Education Director for Access Gallery in Denver, whose mission is to help young people with disabilities find purpose, community, and economic opportunity through the arts.

Currently, I am beginning to venture out into schools to share what I know about ways to adapt and accommodate to better reach all of our diverse learners through accessible and meaningful arts learning experiences. I also make my own artwork and sell it at a co-op art gallery in Frisco, Colorado, where I am also a board member.

Summer and fall of 2024 I will also be participating in NAEA’s School for Art Leaders Program! Let’s keep learning together to make learning powerful and meaningful for every single student!


Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin – Madison 2015

Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction, University of St. Thomas – St. Paul, MN  1991

Bachelor of Science in Art Education, University of Wisconsin – Madison  1987