I remember first PAINT conference I attended.  I was overwhelmed, confused, and excited about possibilities.  I was grateful for a beautiful resort setting, free food, and the feeling of being valued as a professional.  And while I was an outlier within my team based on uncertainties in my position (not a classroom teacher, an arts teacher, or a special educator),  my team welcomed me.   The most memorable part, however, was that I couldn't breathe.   A mountain bike fall had provided me with several broken ribs a few days before, and it was literally painful to breathe.  Perhaps it was the physical pain that made everything about that particular workshop most memorable.  

Two and a half years later, our team has morphed, our understanding has certainly grown, and we are still committed to furthering arts integration within our school community.  We have met twice with our curriculum director, informing her of our vision and discussing how best to move forward.  We have surveyed staff about whether they are interested in arts integration training.  Our amazing leader has completed a monumental grant that will  provide training and greater understanding for all elementary teachers. 

While positive about the future, we recognize that our first and idealistic sustainability plan will need timeline adjustment.  Our district recently passed a $12 million referendum vote focusing solely on athletic facilities.  Unfortunately, there was no mention of the arts in this referendum.  While we have had positive support from administration for our PAINT activities, our vision of funding an elementary visual arts specialist will need to wait.  We will need to be patient, a juxtaposition for teachers (who never seem to have enough time).  

As your team struggles to put things in place, figure out the future, and actually make something out of everything we have experienced, know that we will all be struggling to remain persistent in our efforts.  The vision can either become more clear or fade as time passes.  We will get bogged down with present responsibilities.  Persistence will be key.  And when we get discouraged, we must stay positive.  We can do this.  (And hey, at least we can breathe!)

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