Connected Arts Networks Project – Teacher Leaders and Professional Learning Communities

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Connected Arts Networks Teacher Leaders and Opportunities to Participate in Professional Learning Communities through NAfME in 2023

After a very extensive application, review, and interview process, NAfME has selected a very diverse group of 15 teacher leaders for the CAN grant project. The teacher leaders are from 12 states throughout the US; represent urban, suburban, and rural areas; work at the elementary, middle, and high school levels; and have band, chorus, general music, and orchestra backgrounds.  Two additional music educator Teacher Leaders from New York City, who are already leading PLCs at the local level in New York City, are also working with NAfME’s group of teacher leaders. More information about NAfME’s outstanding group of teacher leaders will be provided soon on these CAN grant web pages.


The National Association for Music Education (NAfME), in partnership with the National Art Education Association (NAEA – grant project lead), the Educational Theater Association (EdTA), and the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) is launching Connected Arts Networks (CAN), a five-year grant initiative to create nationwide virtual Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) with educators in visual arts, music, theater, dance and media arts. The overarching vision for CAN is to build a sustainable model of professional learning for music and arts educators to strengthen their pedagogy, instruction and leadership skills in order to better serve students. This project is modeled after the successful structure of the PLC program in New York City, initiated by the Office of Arts and Special Projects (OASP), another partnering organization.

  • As part of year one of this multi-year project, NAfME recently recruited an outstanding group of music educators to create a national professional learning community of Teacher Leaders. (Similarly, the other grant partners, NAEA, NDEO, and EdTA, recruited teacher leaders for their respective disciplines).This initial PLC of Teacher Leaders will receive specialized virtual training in the coming months to build their capacity to address diversity, equity, inclusion, and social-emotional learning within music instruction, while also emphasizing the importance of leadership skills, teacher professional development through PLCs, and standards-based instruction.  Each Teacher Leader will facilitate their own virtual PLC of music educators.
  • Starting in 2023, NAfME will recruit additional PreK-12  music educators throughout country resulting in a total of 150 music educators taking part in 15 PLCs.  The music education PLCs will be virtual, representing diverse schools, communities, and regions nationwide, including PLCs representing elementary, middle, and high school levels. Opportunities to take part in PLCs through the CAN project will be promoted widely through NAfME starting in winter 2022/2023.  Similarly, the other grant partners, representing visual arts, theater, and dance will also develop 15 PLCs each in their respective disciplines.


  • Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) (Note: NAfME uses the term Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access – DEIA)
  • Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
  • Teacher leadership in standards-based music and arts instruction and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)


  • To develop highly effective arts educators, building their capacity to address ED&I and SEL in their standards-based music and arts instructional area through sustained, intensive, and job-embedded blended professional learning.
  • To develop a local and national cadre of Teacher Leaders in the music and arts by building their content knowledge and leadership skills in order to expand the impact of music and arts learning for students and their communities.
  • To develop accessible music and arts-based instructional materials, strategies, and toolkits to disseminate to educators nationwide, including synchronous and asynchronous professional development programs and digital resources.