The goal of the North Alabama Arts Education Collaborative is to increase access to high quality arts education that enlightens, inspires and develops in every student the creative and innovative thinking necessary to ensure college and career readiness.
The Collaborative serves all of the public school districts in Madison and Limestone counties and Decatur City and partners with area arts organizations and teaching artists to expand access to the arts, arts integration and creative learning.

Happy New Year at the Collaborative!!

2019 ended with a bang at the NAAEC!  We had two wonderful residency presentations at Brookhill Elementary in Athens, and Madison County Elementary in Gurley. 
2020 promises to be just as busy with projects at Sonnie Hereford Elementary and McNair Junior High in Huntsville.  Both residencies will involve teaching artists from Maitland Conservatory.  They will work with 3rd grade classes at Sonnie Hereford and team with 8th grade Social Studies classes at McNair Junior High.  This is our second year to work at Mcnair and we are adding a visual arts component to this project that will include nationally recognized artist, Milton Bowens. 
Projects in the planning stages include additional residencies at Madison County Elementary and Tanner High School.  We are moving ahead with after-school projects as well.  

ATTENTION ARTS SPECIALISTS: Don’t forget to apply for the new $5000 Arts Educator Fellowship Grant.  This is for arts teachers only.  The deadline for applications is March 2, 2020.  You should have received an email from me with detailed information. If you have questions, contact Diana Green at

If you would like to have an arts integration residency at your school, please email Karen Anderson at this address.



Stephanie Braly-Beutjer
Life and Fitness Dance Teacher
Grissom High School

Briefly describe an early arts experience that was meaningful to you.

My early experiences were so amazing; it is hard to pick one. My mother, grandmother, and aunt were instrumental in exposing me to dance, theatre, and music. Art was integrated into my upbringing. One moment I remember distinctly is when my musical director, Kenny Adams, took me to a radio interview. He made a statement during the interview that made me see myself as a valuable asset in the production. He said, “She has a mind like a steel trap.” Being a super shy kid with a strong personality, it boosted my confidence. I felt I had a purpose and someone saw my passion for dance and theatre. Honestly, my experiences in our community theatre were a HUGE influence. But with that, my mother, grandmother, and aunt were the driving force in keeping my arts education alive.

What excites you about working with students? 

It is very cliché, but the students are our future. If we don’t continue teaching them essential life lessons through every curriculum program, we will be raising robots with no empathy, kindness, compassion, the list goes on and on. The students I get to work with come from all walks of life, cultures, economic backgrounds, and family situations. We learn from each other. I am very REAL with my students. I never ask them to do anything I am not willing to do myself. For the most part, I have had great success with this philosophy. These kids are smart, passionate, wise, energetic, tenacious, and eager to learn. They are facing more and more obstacles with the world, social media, and daily pressures. Helping them find an outlet, a passion, discover confidence, or even simply learn how to get through the day is the inspiration for my teaching. I want them to know someone is on their side and understands them. Even though I grew up in a different time, pressure is pressure and worry is worry. Helping them cope with issues and working through them is the greatest gift I have ever received. Students I have taught have made me better and my goal is to hopefully help the students be the best version of themselves through their arts education.

What made you decide to become a Dance educator? 

I have always “taught”. When I was a young teenager, I taught younger kids gymnastics, cheerleading, and dance in my front yard. I have always been fascinated with how and why things work. After a very eclectic career, an opportunity to teach at Grissom High School in the Fine Arts program presented itself. I couldn’t pass it up. It was an opportunity to build a dance program and bring my passion for theatre to high school students.

Why do you think arts education is important?

When we look back on history of cultures, nations, tribes, etc., we look at their art. What did they produce that lasted? The drawings, writings, photographs, architecture, plays, music, pottery, weapons, the list is endless. We are looking at their product.
Art imitates life. What we leave behind as artists defines our culture. It is a window into our history. You can see the status quo, the way they pushed the envelope and where they were heading. Students who receive some type of arts education have a deeper understanding of the world around them. They learn to communicate on a higher level, score higher on standardized test, and have greater cognitive thinking skills. Arts education is directly related to our humanity. Without it, we are lost and hollow. Some students will become professional artists, some will do regional or community events, and others will become the art supporters. All are equally important. One cannot exist without the other. Arts education reaches ALL the elements of teaching: Visual, Auditory, Kinetic, and Cognitive. The arts teach the whole person and are imperative to students becoming well rounded and being able to survive in this global world. Arts are simply imperative to education.
Young People’s Concerts & FREE Family Concert
Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Guild
Mark C. Smith Concert Hall, Von Braun Center

Sponsored in part by the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Guild, the HSO FREE Family Concert, Peter and the Wolf, is open to the general public FREE of charge. The FREE Family Concert happens Saturday, February 29, 2020, at 11:00 a.m., with pre-concert activities for young listeners beginning at 9:30. The performance is presented in collaboration with Huntsville M.E.T. and Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater. The annual Young People’s Concerts, presented for the benefit of fourth-grade visitors, make for an exciting educational field trip! Registration for this year’s Young People’s Concerts has closed, but the HSO invites you to register your fourth-grade classroom for next year’s program in February 2020. Visit for a registration form and further details.

For more information, contact Patti Thornton at 

Download your FREE copy of the 2019-2020 Educators Guide!

Leadership support for the North Alabama Arts Education Collaborative is provided by:

Additional support for school-based residences provided by:



Collaborative Artist Partners include:

Huntsville M.E.T.  •  Eugene Fleming  •  Maitland Conservatory  •  Word Xpress   •  Microwave Dave Music Education Foundation  •  Hollywood Huntsville  •  The Dance Connection  •  Victoria Jones  •  Ingrid Marie

Your Donations Help Expand Arts Education -
Donate Today!
To learn more about the North Alabama Arts Education Collaborative, contact:
Karen Anderson -
Copyright © 2020 Arts Huntsville, All rights reserved.

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