I Have a New Career in Art Ed

Sometimes life takes twists and turns you don’t expect. I’m not one for “pouring my heart out” on this professional space, but today I am going to unload and give you the real story. A lot has happened in the last two months and today I want to share the whole story with you, now that I know the whole story! :) Spoiler alert: I have a new career. Let me explain….

I get emails sometimes and people ask me “How do you do it all, you must be superwoman?” Run AOE (which includes writing and teaching classes, editing content, developing ebooks, PD PAKS, etc) teach elementary art, wife, mother, extra committee work, presenting at conferences, etc.. etc…

I really don’t know how to answer that. I am definitely not superwoman. I would just shrug it off and say “watch less TV” (which is true) however, it’s not the whole truth.  I was drowning. During the 4 months after coming back from maternity leave last spring I was teaching full time, facilitating the art department and running AOE, plus this all important new job of being a mom! This was one of the hardest 4 months of my life.

Even though I had signed a contract to go part time next year, I still didn’t know how I would manage.

The truth is I was fooling myself into thinking I was going to be able to “do it all” and if you know me, I want to do it all well.

But then something happened that brought me total clarity. My husband got new job offer and it meant we were moving. Not just anywhere, but both of us back to our home town. (Insert cheer from both Grandmas!)

Click on the photo to read an article from our local paper about The Art of Education

And like that, within two weeks I resigned from my teaching job, we packed up everything and headed “Home.”

But where would I find a job teaching art? There were no jobs at the end of the Summer! In my heart, I knew my path was clear, and my new career was right in front of me.

I was going to become the Founder of AOE, full time. 

But wait, isn’t teaching art is my passion? My Element? I’ve wanted to be an art teacher since I was in 3rd grade, and a part of me will always miss being in the classroom, especially the little things like teaching a first grader to mix red and yellow for the first time. One good thing is that I won’t be completely be out of the classroom, in fact I’ll probably get to try out a lot more things, and see a lot more unique approaches as I’ll be spending time volunteering in Art Rooms around my home and all around the country as I travel for AOE. That idea makes me feel very comforted and confident about the quality of content that I and the rest of the AOE team will continue to provide our amazing readers!

But something interesting has happened over the past few years. I realized I also had a passion for something else. A sub-category in my passions of life, and that is EMPOWERING ART TEACHERS. It just keeps nagging me. I LOVE DOING THIS. I want this to be my full time job. I can reach more students, reach more teachers, and make a greater impact on the field of Art Education using this platform. I love creating new things, I love being my own boss, and I also love thinking about what art teachers need, and finding creative solutions to their problems. I love the flexibility this provides for my family, although I would argue I am working harder now than ever before, but it’s passionate work, work that fuels you and gives you energy, not drains you.

The good news is, I have found what I am meant to do. I never thought I would just up and quit teaching, but you see, I didn’t quit, and I didn’t retire… I got a new career in art education.

Now I can devote my time 100% to getting you the best resources possible, teaching art education at the graduate level, and empowering our readers though more new content, products, initiatives, and more. For example, we just launched PD PAKS, which are consulting packages for art departments. It’s things like this I wouldn’t be able to bring you if I was still teaching full time.

Whether you found us today, or have been here since the beginning, I thank you for supporting The Art of Education and trusting us to be your #1 resource for all things “Art Ed.” The best is yet to come!…..

This is all a bit nerve-racking, but to be honest I’ve never been so excited!
Let me know your thoughts, AOE fans!

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Kellie Determan

    Three cheers for you Jessica! Listening to your heart is not always easy and being open to a new direction is great. I’m so happy that your move will allow you to be involved in our lives at a new level/pace and give you special time with your wonderful daughter and family. I too wondered how you kept all things AOE, teaching, department head, mom, family & wife in such order. I just figured you had this ‘super-gene’ of organization (and I was secretly envious as this is an area that takes constant attention for me). You and your discipline & organization inspire me to be a positive and motivated teacher. Thank you and congratulations on your next step!
    You EMPOWER us!

    • Anneamriebaldauf

       Congratulations!!! I look forward to more classes and more art information.

    • Kellie, 
      Thanks so much for your kind words. No matter what, we are all striving for that “balance” and although I’m still working on it, it feels good. 

  • Theresa Mc

    Congratulations!  Amazing where the path of life can take you.  Good luck on your incredible journey!

    • Thank you, Theresa! Hope to catch up soon in Illinois. 

      • Ruartsy4

        AWESOME! I truly believe everything happens for a reason. This was so meant to be and you will be awesome! Thank you for all you’ve given already and to all the help you will be to Art Educator’s in the future!

  • Argy Nestor

    Congratulations Jessica on your new career! This turn in the road sounds like it is taking you in a  great new direction. I hope this means you will be traveling to the northeast and the great state of Maine in the near future to check out the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative first hand and not only on the website http://maineartsassessment.pbworks.com or the Maine Arts Education blog http://meartsed.wordpress.com/. I wish you the best of luck as your journey continues! I’m off to DC to attend the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies conference and the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education meeting in Reston, VA where I will learn more about the work of the writing teams for the National Arts Standards. Folks can join in live on Wednesday, October 3, 3:00 EST at http://nccas.wikispaces.com/. ~ Argy Nestor, Visual and Performing Arts Specialist, Maine Dept. of Education

    • Thanks, Argy- I look forward to connecting with you more, too! You have lots to share. I want to attend the webinar, so thanks for sharing the info. We must keep up to date with arts assessments, things are changing rapidly and Maine is one of the states we can look to. Hope to meet you in person someday. 

  • Alecia Eggers

    You go girl! :)  

  • Congrats, Jessica!  What an exciting career move!!  Sounds like you’re moving in a great direction – good for you!  And I was kind of wondering how you did it all!   ;-)

  • Valerie Naas

    I am now entering a new career move as well–I’m going back to school to earn my certification to teach art! And that is how I have discovered your online resource! I am constantly being inspired and motivated by your posts. Thank you! And I’m even more excited to learn that you’re not going anywhere. Blessings! 

    • Congrats, Valerie on your new career. You will love being an art teacher – Welcome to the club. I can’t take all of the credit for your inspiration, our team of writers always has something amazing to share up their sleeve, too. Hope we keep inspiring you and best of luck. 

  • Valerie Naas

    I am now entering a new career move as well–I’m going back to school to earn my certification to teach art! And that is how I have discovered your online resource! I am constantly being inspired and motivated by your posts. Thank you! And I’m even more excited to learn that you’re not going anywhere. Blessings! 

  • Ingrid

    Good for you!  You are awesome!

  • Denise

    wow! yes, you are/were/will always be a busy mama! So glad you found a great fit for you and your family. Good luck to you-I’ve so enjoyed everything about A of E!!

    • Thanks! Busy- Yes! You would be amazed to see how many emails and phone calls come in daily with AOE questions on classes, etc! It’s pretty cool. 

  • Teresa Euken

    That’s fantastic Jessica!!  I am so happy for you!  Your enthusiasm shows and makes our classes fun!  I am so very thankful for the classes you do offer those of us that are in the art classrooms.  I was nervous about taking my first online class and you have made it fun and extremely meaningful.  You’r the best.  I would encourage everybody reading this to take one of Jessicas’s classes.  Thanks Jessica!

  • EHarrison

    Congratulations! There is truly a need for more mentoring, more communication, and more cohesion in our profession. It IS hard to do all that we know needs to be done. I head up our special areas in our elementary building, and like everyone else, we are in the midst of SLO’s, new administration, and new teachers.  Somewhere in there, I still want my art program to be strong and viable and it is getting harder, and harder to get home at a decent hour. 10 hour days are the norm, and that causes burn out. Good luck, can’t wait to read about all the great ideas you’ve got waiting to get out!

  • Vicky siegel

    Congratulations, Jessica!  I am very happy for you, and am happier that you are still there for all of us art teachers!  Looking forward to taking more classes with you this summer!

  • eveslageinfo

    Congratulations Jessica! What a wonderful move. I was definitely among those wondering whether or not you sleep! You will love working from home and being there for you daughter, and I’m sure you will still be very busy, I am sure. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end!

  • Rose

    Congratulations and good luck!

  • Congrats! You have been a great resource for me since I stumbled onto AOE some time ago. To be frank, there are a lot of crappy resources online for art educators but I actually use your stuff, a lot of your stuff. Thank you for being an inspiration to us all!

    • Joe-We will continue to provide non-crappy art ed content over here! In all seriousness I know what you  mean, and thank you for your support! 

  • Kimber1964

    Best wishes as you continue to teach all of us “big kids” about art education.  What you do is invaluable to me.  I cannot say thanks enough for all of the tips and ideas I’ve put into play in my own classroom after reading them here. You encourage me and and help me to be the best teacher I can be.  I’m glad to hear you’ll be here continuing all the great things you do! 

    • I am overwhelmed and inspired with the responses from everyone, thank you so much for your support, you have put my mind at ease about my decision and please know the team and I will keep all the “great stuff” coming! 

  • Marni Oberpriller

    Don’t we all LOVE IT when life falls into place?   I’d agree it would be a hard decision to leave the classroom. But then one puts it into perspective, you’re making a difference exponentially.  Congratulations to you, Jessica and congratulations for all of us getting have you “working for EATs” full-time! Wink! YOU GO GIRL!


  • Leeann

    congratulations!  Life takes us on journeys we could never anticipate.  It sounds like you were open to possibility while still honoring your passion.  I wish you the best.

  • Congratulations and what a great perspective! I’m always worried about what I’ll do if we relocate to an area where I won’t be able to find a job teaching art. I’m happy for you and wish you the best of luck!

    • ATHG- If you relocate and can’t find a teaching job call me. LOL. But seriously. You just never know.

  • ChristineJEH

    Congratulations Jessica. I found ‘you” online last Spring and have enjoyed reading your posts .I am amazed at how much you do.  I felt a connection since I too taught in the Des Moines area (student teaching)  and have visited Luther with my husband. But, when I followed the link to the Press News article, I freaked out because that is where I started my career (a million) years ago. My best to you on your new adventure.

    • Seriously!? You started your teaching career in Osage? I bet our paths have crossed at some point in time don’t you?

  • I’m so happy and proud for you!  You are living the dream and this was definitely something you were ready for…congratulations!  You ARE ridiculously relevant – in whatever role you choose!  

    • Thanks, Susan! This means a lot coming from a real “Superwoman” who IS doing it all!

  • Libyad

    You are an inspiration.  Congratulations!

  • Artdoc664

    SO happy for you & your family! It is amazing to find your ‘calling’ AND to be able to do it. As someone below said, “You inspire us”, and that is SO true. Thank you for this wonderful site where we can virtually meet while maintaining a professionalism our discipline so desperately needs. Best of luck with the next season of your life. Love that sweet girl & spoil her rotten! You’ll look around like I did & they’ll be 19 before you know it. Take care! Kelly Berwager

  • erica

    So inspiring! Although being teaching art IS a dream job. . . it is extremely difficult in today’s society with the pace and amount of students we teach and expectations. We are all looking to you for ways to make our days more manageable and meaningful. I use your star, star wish:) and think of you! Glad you’ll have more time to keep the profession professional!

  • Pamela Dalton

    Exciting news Jessica!  Your new career is very MUCH needed by all art teachers looking for great PD, credits, community and support.  If you are ever in the Boston area, you are always welcome to be a guest start art teacher in my room!

    • Thank you for the offer! You never know when we might be on the East coast!

  • Dawn

    Congratulations! I’ve always enjoyed your site’s  informed content and clean design.  

  • MarlalynnWatson

    Congratulations!  I concur with the comment below, you are such an inspiration and I have followed you all summer.  I am hoping to spread your word and website will all of art colleagues that I know.  Tons of great and helpful information that I have incorporated and just said “yes” about.  Thanks for all that you do and thank you for continuing your art dream and part of the process of life!
    Take care,
    Marla Watson

  • I’m so glad for you! Your blog is so helpful to me as a relatively new art ed teacher and I’m happy to know that I can keep relying on you for ideas to help me grow.

  • You are so amazing, Jessica!! Congratulations, good luck and enjoy this new venture!! Life is full of twists and turns and it’s good to take chances and great to chase your dream!!! The best to both you!!!


    • Thanks, Heather! Loving it so far, lots of challenges but so rewarding.

  • Patty Palmer

    This is great news. I only just read this post now so I’m certainly out of the loop! I’m happy that you are pouring more of yourself into Art of Ed. It’s a great resource for art teachers. I know that running blog is very time-consuming and the challenges are new everyday. Can’t wait to see all that you do in teh coming months.

    • Thanks Patty, for your support and understanding of what it really takes to run a blog. With 14 graduate level courses and consulting with PD PAKS, plus the website, you can see why it’s a full time job. Talk with you soon.

  • Katiepie

    I have just found your site and have spent the last 6 hours browsing!! There is so much great stuff on there I can’t tell you how excited I am!
    I am not a trained teacher but a self taught artist who eventually, after having my daughter at 35, turned my passion into my career and I started a successful website selling my art work on line after working for many years in non art based jobs. When I left school in the UK, what feels like many, many moons ago, 1985, to be precise. I had no idea that I could have a career in art, not a clue! I had been brought up to think that a job was something you only did to earn money, not something that you could love too. I moved to New Zealand a few years ago and then started on another path as a private art tutor, something I had never considered before. The joy I get now from painting and teaching kids is huge! I go in an take art classes in my spare time at my kids school (age 5 & 8) as so many of the teachers just don’t do art. I thought about studying to be a teacher but at 44 and needing to earn an income this wasn’t really an option. Plus, all I want to teach is art, not maths or english so I reckon that I have a pretty cool job. I don’t have to deal with principals, I can teach whatever I want (within reason!), I can have a half hour gap between classes and I get time to paint for myself! So, this year we are investing a lot of money in converting an outbuilding into an art studio so that I can take on more art classes and not have to cart everything round in boxes. It really excites me teaching art to children. I love seeing their wee faces when they realise what they can create for themselves and I live in hope that one day a child will become what they dream of because I helped them move in the right direction.
    I seem to have digressed slightly here from your initial thread, but I guess what I am saying is if your website is anything to go by, you are a pretty awesome lady, that things always happen for a reason, change is good and that my dream of becoming a better art tutor can happen with help from you. Thank you for your time and dedication, you are an inspiration and I think I will recommend you to the Queen for her New Years honours list!

    • The queen! You are to sweet.
      It sounds like your new venture is perfect, and I really hope you find some great tips and tricks on AOE. Keep in touch with us as you progress and feel free to ask questions about articles and projects as you refine your practice. It feels good to be working in our Element, doesn’t it! Best to you!

  • elizabeth thompson

    Karma does go both ways-good for you (and us)… Congratulations!!