West Liberty University graduate Rachel Shipley is now serving as artist educator fellow with the WLU Center for Arts and Education. Shipley earned a bachelor’s degree in art education in 2013.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for me and I am grateful. I’m excited to be a part of the educational programs offered through this new position and I’m pleased to work with the Center for Arts and Education,” Shipley said. “Art and education are my passion.”
Shipley will serve as liaison to area schools, assisting in the implementation of grant-based art activities in both public and private elementary and middle schools.
Her position is funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation through grants to the Center for Arts and Education, and Pittsburgh museums, including the Mattress Factory, the Pittsburgh City Theater Program and the Andy Warhol Museum.
Shipley began her career as a WLU student in graphic design in 1998, when she was in her 20s, but family obligations delayed her completing her degree until recently. When Shipley’s youngest child began kindergarten, she returned to WLU, this time as an art education major.
WLU Art Professors Nancy Tirone and Bob Villamagna were influential, encouraging her artistic expression and career choice.
“After experiencing the school system with my own children, I realized that it was important to be a part of the education system. I have many ideas that I want to share and I’m pleased to be working with area educators,” Shipley said.
Shipley formerly worked with Lou Karas, the director of the Center for Arts and Education. She organized the June Learning Spaces grant meeting and participated in the two-day professional development workshop for teachers held by the Mattress Factory on the WLU campus, this past July.
As an extension of the Mattress Factory program, Shipley will provide follow-up support and integration in local schools throughout the fall semester.
Most recently, she represented West Liberty University at the MakeShop educators training at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
“At a time when arts programs are at risk for reduction or elimination in K-12 schools, the grant-funded projects through the work of the Center for Arts and Education highlight the many benefits and important role the arts play in the life of students,” said Karas. “I welcome Rachel’s assistance in our efforts here at West Liberty.”
“Art is the one class where you come in everyday and experience something hands-on. It is one of the best classes for learning critical thinking and problem solving. Plus, in art class there is natural integration of other subjects, particularly history,” Shipley said. “The pride students have for their work also impacts their work ethic.”
Located in Main Hall, the Center for Arts and Education came about in 2011 due to collaboration between the Appalachian Education Initiative and the Colleges of Education and Arts and Communication at West Liberty University, with support from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, in 2011. Its purpose is to provide innovative professional development programs and services to educators, students, teaching artists and others interested in the role of the arts in Pre-K to 12th grade education.