Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Honoring a Teaching Artist

From Philip A. Alexander, Ph.D.

Honoring a Teaching Artist
As some of you have learned already, Rochester-based teaching artist Barnetta Carter passed away last Thurday, at age 53, after a battle with diabetes and vascular dementia. She was part of the ESP community for several years, as a theatre teaching artist with Young Audiences of Rochester and as a participant at several Summer Seminars on the Sarah Lawrence campus. Her work demonstrates so much about the powerful influence of a dedicated and thoughtful teaching artist: she was known for inspiring students with her unflagging support, while also pushing herself and her colleagues to do their best. She was one of those people who provided the vital support system for creative kids that Michael Giacchino referred in his Oscar speech.

Barnetta’s experiences outside the classroom also reflect the breadth and depth of what it means to be a teaching artist. Her continued employment as a teaching artist through NYSCA’s ESP program gave Barnetta the financial stability to buy a house. Regrettably, when her health care necessitated a 24-hour facility, Barnetta’s savings were quickly depleted and her family and friends developed a grass roots internet campaign. Many in the arts-in-ed community responded, including the ESP program (which donated proceeds from the sale of Summer Seminar merchandise to the cause, which ultimately raised over $10,000.

Barnetta’s family plans for her internment in Nashville, TN. For updated information, and to share any memories you might have of Barnetta and her remarkable spirit, please log on to:

And for those who didn’t know Barnetta:

In her honor, I’d like to ask you to find some way to honor and celebrate the contribution of a teaching artist over the next few days. While some sort of financial compensation or health care coverage would be welcome, I’m sure, I think they’d also appreciate any creative ways that you might acknowledge their impact on your life and the lives of people in the schools and the community.

Reminding artists how valuable they are to all of us: “It’s not a waste of time. Do it.”


Philip A. Alexander, Ph.D.
Senior Program Officer
ESP Office of Partnership Support and Research

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