TMA Summer Institute

Teacher Profiles

For the past three years, the Teacher Leader program has brought together educators from various disciplines to explore the potential impact of visual literacy and object-based teaching on their classrooms. Here are some of their stories:


Jeniene Hall & Nancy Garand

6-8th English Languge Arts and Social Studies
Harvard Elementary School, Toledo, Ohio

Jeniene Hall and Nancy Garand have been team-teaching middle school students for nine years. They both grew up in Toledo, and they’ve both been going to the Toledo Museum of Art since they were young kids. Despite their experiences visiting the museum, they never felt like they were able to fully take advantage of the museum’s resources in their classrooms. Jeniene and Nancy were excited that the Summer Institute helped to make the museum feel more user-friendly for them and their students. Over the course of the project, Nancy noticed a change in her students’ museum experience: “with that amount of comfort from us, and us feeling like we are part of the museum, the children feel more comfortable too,” she said. Both Jeniene and Nancy really took advantage of the resources they learned about at the Summer Institute—using a number of resources, techniques, and instructional practices from TMA all year long. “We can integrate the lessons into what we do at any time,” Jeniene observed. Nancy has noticed her students taking ownership of visual literacy, and using visual literacy terminology regularly in the classroom. These Harvard Elementary teachers feel like all of Toledo has something to gain from visual literacy training at TMA. “If [programs like this] continue,” Jeniene noted, “I really think it will make a change in our city.” 

Angie Stokes

7-12th Grade Visual Arts
Wayne Trace High School, Haviland, OH

Summer Institute teacher Angie Stokes loves teaching art because she sees it as a level playing field for her students. She’s taught all grades and all subjects, but with art, she sees her students contributing to the conversation in different ways. She’s been visiting TMA for a long time, but participating in professional development at the Museum gave her an entirely different perspective. “I loved talking to museum professionals and getting that background perspective,” Angie said. She felt like she’d walked by the same paintings so many times, but never noticed the things she saw during the Summer Institute.

Angie also loved the enthusiasm of the Museum staff. “They made me enthusiastic about the [works of art], and when I talked to my kids [about the art] they got that same enthusiasm.” Using the Toledo Museum of Art as a resource in her art classes is very important to Angie. When she works lessons from the Museum into her curriculum, her students can see that there is much more to art than just professional artists. The math, science, and most importantly, risk-taking in the art world can inspire her students to get involved in different ways.

Ashlie Dempsey

7-8th Grade English Language Arts
Byrndale Elementary, Toledo, OH

Toledo native Ashlie Dempsey has been visiting TMA her whole life. She enjoyed the Summer Institute not just because she it was fun, but also because she felt that it was valuable for teachers to experience the activities, rather than just reading about them. Ashlie teaches close reading in her ELA classroom, and for her the concept of close looking resonated, because the two approaches are so similar. Close looking, though, is accessible to all her students—even those reading below grade level. “[The students] could build up confidence because they felt they could just look at a piece and find the details, and they were very good at it,” she said. As an English teacher, Ashlie was also able to find works of art in the Museum that connected directly to stories she was reading with her students. When Ashlie and her students visited the Museum, she was struck by how the experience was adapted to the students’ interests. She noted that at one point in the tour, “the docent went to look at one piece of art but the students saw another and showed enthusiasm for that piece, so [the docent] stopped what she was doing and moved over and adapted the activity for the piece that attracted the kids.” That student-driven experience brought a lot excitement to the visit, and Ashlie noticed her students talking about coming back to the Museum with their parents. “It made me really happy to see the enthusiasm,” Ashlie said, “I’m hoping that it will help promote more families going.”

Robert Steinline

6-8th Grade Technology
Springfield Middle School, Holland, OH

Bob Steinline is a technology education teacher at Springfield Middle School in Holland Ohio. He recently received a grant for a 3D printer in his classroom, and got excited about how he could “make the pictures just come alive” for his students. He says, “visualizing and synthesizing are the two most important skills any individual in engineering can acquire, and that ties in so well with the museum.” During the Summer Institute workshops, he really enjoyed learning to look more closely at objects, and search beyond the first impression for deeper meaning in the shapes and forms. After returning to his classroom, Bob reimagined an activity that he participated in at the Summer Institute to make it relevant for his technology students. While at the museum, he and other participants were asked to create a visual timeline of museum objects. In Bob’s version of the activity, his students researched and created timelines of generations of the Ford Mustang. Bob then asked his students to consider why the Mustang changed the way it did in certain years—encouraging closer looking and critical thinking about the relationship between form and function. Bob says that looking forward, he’s excited about expanding his timeline activity for future students.


They made me enthusiastic about the pieces, and when I talked to my kids [about the art] they got that same enthusiasm.