Does the idea of writing a grant proposal intimidate you? Barbara Lardner is an art teacher who’s taught in multiple grade levels throughout elementary, middle, and high school for over 25 years. She also happens to be an expert at grant writing for the classroom. So in this episode, I’ve invited her on to share her experiences, tips, and best practices for how you can write a great grant proposal.
2:56 – How Barbara was granted a trip to Paris
5:14 – Different types of grants offered and where to begin your search
8:54 – Crucial tips, steps, and goals to begin the grant writing proposal process
14:49 – One thing you might need (and shouldn’t put off) when writing your proposal
18:47 – Examples of vagueness, specificity, and clarity in proposal writing
22:49 – Why Barbara missed out on receiving an extra $2,000 for her school this year
24:39 – The kind of assessment requirements you need to follow after you get a grant
28:06 – Advice for making the grant writing process easier and less scary
31:11 – What to do before you finally submit your application
35:50 – Recap and more tips and best practices for writing your grant proposal
38:49 – Biggest piece of advice that gave Barbara the grant to attend graduate school
41:44 – What sparked Barbara’s interest in art as a 4-year-old
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Cindy Ingram: Hello and welcome to The Art Class Curator Podcast. I am Cindy Ingram, your host and the founder of Art Class Curator, and The Curated Connections Library. We’re here to talk about teaching art with purpose and inspiration from the daily delights of creativity to the messy mishaps that come with being a teacher. Whether you’re driving home from school or cleaning up your classroom for the 15th time today, take a second, take a deep breath, relax those shoulders, and let’s get started.
Hi everybody. It’s Cindy Ingram from Art Class Curator. Welcome back to The Art Class Curator Podcast. Today, I have a guest for you and her name is Barbara Lardner. She is an expert at grant writing for the classroom. She presents at NAEA frequently about how to get grants for your classroom. Today, we’re going to talk especially about how to write a great grant proposal. Before we get into the interview, I just want to quickly introduce Barbara. She is an art teacher who works in an urban core district in Rhode Island. She has had the opportunity to teach in multiple grade levels, elementary, middle, and high school. She’s a graduate of Providence College and the University of Tennessee with degrees in art education and administration. Let’s dive right into our conversation.
I’m so excited to welcome Barbara Lardner to the podcast. Welcome, Barbara.
Barbara Lardner: Welcome, Cindy. I’m so happy to be here. I’m so familiar with your website. I really appreciate you having me here. I really admire what you do with your website. It’s great to be here.
Cindy Ingram: Thank you so much. Before we get started, why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit more about you, your background, and experiences?
Barbara Lardner: I’ve always loved art from a young age. I have two degrees in art education. I have been an art teacher for over 25 years. I’ve taught pre-k, elementary, middle school, high school. I have a lot of background in art education. It’s something that I’m very passionate about. It’s wonderful to be able to share what I’ve learned with your listeners because it may help them too.
Cindy Ingram: Wonderful. Do you have a favorite grade?
Barbara Lardner: Elementary is my favorite. I like the younger ones, maybe second and third grade because they’re still excited about learning art. Sometimes, when they get to the older grades, they get blase about it. They’re too cool for it.
Cindy Ingram: Do you teach elementary now?
Barbara Lardner: Now, I teach elementary, pre-k through five.
Cindy Ingram: Awesome. I understand that you are a whiz at getting grants for your classroom. Can you share some of the grants that you’ve received?
Barbara Lardner: Sure. First, I’ll start off with the glamorous type of grants that I’ve gotten. I actually got a grant from a museum. I was able to go to Paris and study art history at the Musée d’Orsay. That was really exciting. Those are some of the more glamorous things you can get with grant money. But then I’ve had grants for projects in my classroom, I’ve gotten grants for doing circuits and LED lights. I’ve gotten grants for explosion books. There’s all different types of grants. I even got a grant where I got to go to get my master’s degree at the University of Tennessee.
Cindy Ingram: Oh, that’s wonderful.
Barbara Lardner: There’s a lot of different types of grants that you can get.
Cindy Ingram: I know that everybody paused it and went to find the trip to Paris one. Is that a particular grant or was it just you wrote a grant because you wanted that experience or was it one that they were offering?
Barbara Lardner: I wanted to go to Paris to see artwork. I was looking up organizations in how I could somehow be able to go to Paris. I found this organization, then I found that there was a museum associated with the organization. They would supplement your trip and pay the tuition. That was just happenstance.
Cindy Ingram: That’s wonderful. We do—we did before COVID and we are doing again next summer—but a trip every year with the Art Class Curator. I know last year, we had a couple that were getting their trip funded through grants. That was really exciting. No one got to go last year but that’s awesome. It sounds like you can get grants for just individual projects and really large things. Where do you find out about these grant opportunities?
Barbara Lardner: Let me go back to the first thing you said. There are different types of grants. You can get grants that are for classroom enrichment. That’s where you can get materials for your classroom or technology for your classroom, something for your students in your classroom. Then there are teacher development projects. That was my trip to Paris, to make you a better teacher, to help improve your knowledge base or develop your pedagogical skills. But for somebody just starting out, trying to find a grant, I think you’d be better off to just start local. Start looking throughout your state to find a grant because those would be smaller grants. It would be simpler for you to fill out the application and go through the process. That way, you can develop your skills. Then maybe down the road, after you’ve gotten some smaller grants, you can go out and try to get more national grants or grants that offer a lot more money. I would start local. I live in Rhode Island, so it’s a small state. There are two family foundations that are geared toward education for you to apply for grants. If you live in a bigger state, there might be more available small family foundations where you could get grants. I would start local and look around.
Cindy Ingram: I like that because it probably gives you the experience writing, gives you the experience filling out the applications, the experience doing the assessments, and all the paperwork that’s involved so that you’re really more prepared for those bigger opportunities.
Barbara Lardner: Yeah. The smaller ones, you’re more likely to get rewarded the grant. If you’re starting off with a big grant, you’re going to have more competition. You don’t have as much practice in writing the grants and you might be turned down because I’ve been turned down for big grants too. If you’re just starting off, it’s going to be like, “Oh gosh, maybe I just don’t have it to get a grant.” Start smaller and you have more of a chance to get the grant. That would be my advice.
Cindy Ingram: Yeah, that’s good advice. Where would they find a local foundation? Is it just a matter of just very targeted Google searching or are there databases out there for grants?
Barbara Lardner: Gosh, I don’t know. There could be databases out there. Just looking local, just Google searches. Two of the family foundations in my state, they actually reach out to teachers. I’ve had museum grants. There are some local museums and they’ve actually reached out to teachers. Because they are education based, it makes it worthwhile for them to reach out to teachers. But other ones, I have done Google searches and found grants that way. But I can give you a list of some grant foundations that you can give to your listeners.
Cindy Ingram: Yeah, we’ll put those in the show notes of this episode. If you’re listening, you can check that out. But I also think maybe checking your state art association and NAEA. I bet they have stuff in there too.
Barbara Lardner: Oh, yes.
Cindy Ingram: Let’s talk about writing your grant proposal. Once you’ve figured out your grant, you know what you’re going to apply for, what’s the process?
Barbara Lardner: I’ll start you out with the process. First of all, it’s going to sound obvious, but you want to read the grant first because you want to determine what their purpose is. You want to find out what is the type of projects that they fund because you want to align your proposal with their purpose because say that you want to get a grant that’s environmental based, environmental art and they don’t support those, they’re more into technology, it’s not going to make any sense to apply for that grant. You want to make sure that they’re going to fund something that you’re interested in. While you’re reading it, you want to highlight all the questions that have to be answered. You want to highlight, with a yellow highlight marker, all the materials that you want to include when you submit your grant because if you don’t answer all the questions and you don’t include all the material, obviously, you’re not going to get that grant. You want to just make sure that you have a meeting of the mind, what they like to fund, and what you’re looking for.
Next, you’re going to start to write the grant. To start out, you want to just brainstorm ideas of what it is that you’re interested in, what you think you might be interested in. Then you want to write a summary statement. That summary statement is going to help you get clarity. How you would write your summary statement is you want to answer who you are, who will benefit your project, what your project is, what your plan is, and how much money that you’re asking for. You want to get that summary statement, you want it to be a one paragraph description, who, what, when, where, how much to help you to focus you and focus your idea because clarity is key when you’re writing a grant. Because if they don’t understand what it is you’re asking for, why, who it’s for, they’re not going to fund it. Clarity is the key. Then you’re going to start writing your rough draft. You just want to get your ideas on paper. Don’t worry about it, you can always polish it up later. Just get your ideas written down. Those would be my first two, summary statement and just get a rough draft. Get your ideas written down.
Cindy Ingram: Yeah. I imagine that the people that are reading these grants on the other end, as you talk, I keep thinking of when people apply for jobs and I’ve got 20 resumes in front of me, 20 cover letters in front of me. I’m not going to go in and meticulously analyze every single word they say. I skim it first. I look for keywords. I think that clarity is really important, making sure you’re putting the words that they’re looking for into your summary statement, into your rough draft so that if they’re looking for environmental art, you’ve got the word environmental in there lots of times or variations of that. That clarity is important.
Barbara Lardner: You want to be able to state your needs because the granting organization wants to know what the problem is that you’re looking to solve. They want to know how they’re going to help you. You want to be able to state what your needs are, so they can understand that. Document what your students’ struggles are. Do your students not have any technology? You think that’s important for them, you want to be able to put together a plan for how you’ll use the money that they give you and the materials that you’ll be getting, so that you can boost their skills in that area of technology or whatever area you’re focusing on. You want to document what it is, what your students’ struggles are, and how they can help you.
Summary statement, rough draft, document your students’ struggles. While you’re writing, you want to continually assess to make sure that you’re addressing what their purpose is. Again, if their purpose is technology or their purpose is environmental art, while you’re writing, you want to continually assess what you’re writing to make sure that those two meet. Again, a meeting of the minds. You want to really focus on the parts of the project that they’ll like best. Again, just reflect what their purpose is. Is it STEAM? Is it ELL? Project-based learning? Know what they’re interested in and make sure you match that. You want to lay out your specific goals. The clearer your goals are, the better because it will give them an understanding as they’re reading your proposal. It will give them an understanding of where their money’s going because they want to make sure their money’s going to what their purpose is. Summing up, your two goals, as you’re writing, you want to achieve clarity of your plan and you want to be able to assess if you’re contributing to their purpose.
Cindy Ingram: Awesome. What else is involved in writing a grant proposal?
Barbara Lardner: Next, some grants require that you have a letter of support but not all of them do require that. But if they do, you don’t want to leave that to the very last minute and have that after thought because those letters of support will make you more competitive because there’s probably going to be other people that are applying for this grant. Usually, the bigger the grant, the more times they’re going to ask for a letter of support. One grant that I applied to was a Fulbright to go to Japan for about a month. Chances were I would have to be out of school for a month because it wasn’t in the summer. I had to go to my superintendent to get a letter of support from him. He had to give me that because they were probably going to have to provide a substitute for me while I was away in Japan. I had to go to him.
Another grant was a state grant. I had to get a letter of support from my principal. I had to talk to him and let him know what the grant was about. He had to agree with it. I had to get that from him. When you have that letter of support, it just demonstrates my agreement that I’ll follow through with everything involved in the grant and I’ll follow through with the project. It’s just basically a rough reflection of my commitment to the project. My tip for that is if you do have to get a letter of support, just make sure it’s on your school letterhead. Again, not all granting organizations require this but you may have to think about that. Just don’t leave it to the end. Just make sure you get that up front. You don’t want to have to go through the whole process. My superintendent could have said, “No, I’m not going to sign this. I don’t want to pay for a sub while you’re traveling through Japan for a month.”
Cindy Ingram: Yeah. But was he supportive?
Barbara Lardner: Oh, yes. Actually, when I got to Japan, it was more than just me. There were a few teachers. One of the teachers said afterwards, her superintendent got it. He gave her a hard time about it.
Cindy Ingram: I think that a lot of administrators would want to celebrate that and showcase it. I’ll tell the community about it.
Barbara Lardner: Yeah. I was so thankful. Part of my follow-up with that is I had to bring the Japanese art into the community. It was a win-win all around for everybody.
Cindy Ingram: And you got to spend a month in Japan. That’s amazing. I love that. I will refrain from asking you all about your trip to Japan because we’re talking about grants but that’s exciting. I know that when I’ve had to write letters of recommendation for people in the past or when I’ve asked people to write letters of recommendation for me, I’ve often given them an outline or some bullet points of things to include. Have you ever done anything like that to help them write the best letter possible?
Barbara Lardner: Oh, yeah. I would let them know what the grant was going to be about. He had to go along with it.
Cindy Ingram: Anything else involved in the actual application and the proposal before we talk about what you do when you get the grant?
Barbara Lardner: I can just give you an example of clarity and being too vague.
Cindy Ingram: Okay, that’d be great.
Barbara Lardner: It’s very important. As I said, clarity is key. That’s something I want to emphasize over and over again. When you’re writing a grant, you don’t want to just say, “I want to get this grant to help my second graders out or my third graders,” because there’s no clarity. Nobody knows what you’re going to do with that money. A granting organization just doesn’t want to give you money if they’re not going to know where the money’s going to, who is it going to help. You want to be specific and say something like, “We will be using the $800 in the grant money to buy two new iPads to help my second grade art class. The iPads will be used to create videos on the Do Ink Green Screen app.” So they know who, they know what it’s going to be used for. They’re going to know how much money they’ll be using, who it’s for. Again, I know I’ve said it often but clarity is key because they want to know that their money is going for what they want it to go for. It’s going to help people.
Cindy Ingram: I can imagine you want to really paint a picture of what your classroom looks like, what your students are like, what this lesson or resources will be like, and how the money will impact it. Do you use a lot of storytelling in your grant writing at all? More information or descriptive?
Barbara Lardner: You don’t want to be really fancy in your wording. You want to be very plain. I can tell you, when I wrote the grant for the Fulbright, I wanted it to be, again, as clear as possible. My way of assessing it is that I divided it into three portions, so it was easier for them to understand. I was going to be vocal and that meant that I was going to give the lessons to the children, and explain it using my voice, then I was going to be visual. I was going to create displays that I was going to be putting up in banks and around the community. I was going to use my knowledge that I’ve learned in Japan on technology.
I broke it down into three separate parts, just to make it easier for them to understand what I was going to do. I was going to take my knowledge of Japanese art. It’s going to use my voice. I was going to use visuals. I was going to use technology. That’s what I mean that you don’t want to use fancy words so they could understand, “Okay, she’s going to speak about Japan. She’s going to use visuals of Japanese art. She’s going to use visuals in technology.” I can’t really say I use storytelling, I mean I think storytelling is a great way to get people to understand something, but for writing a grant, I just think it was clearer.
Cindy Ingram: Okay, that’s just my own personal question. I think that’s a really good point though because it sounds like just adding as much detail as possible while keeping it really easy to understand is an important point. You usually have to write an essay, is there any particular length or does it vary per grant?
Barbara Lardner: When you are looking at a grant and deciding if you want to apply for it, they will give you a length of how long it can be. They might say 300 words or less. They’ll give you the requirements. You have to make sure that you follow those requirements. If they ask for a budget, if they ask for a link, what your assessment is going to be, describe it. You have to make sure that you read the grant and you follow through. I missed out on getting about $2000 extra this year, some money for my school this year because I’ve gotten this money for the past few years and I just assumed, “Oh, I’ll do what I did the last time.” I didn’t read it correctly. I did the wrong thing. I sent it in, I have a relationship with them, so I email back and forth, and they’re like, “Sorry but that’s not what you were supposed to do this time. You were supposed to do this.” I missed out on $2000 this year, I was like, “Oh shoot, I didn’t follow my own advice.” You really have to follow what the requirements are, if they have a requirement for words. Now, the grants are all online. They’ll just block you out. As soon as you type in that one letter over, you’re done. You have to go back and rewrite it to make sure it’s within the amount of words they say.
Cindy Ingram: You mentioned, when you were talking just now, about an assessment. Once you’ve gotten the grant, what do the grantors usually require of you as far as assessment and documentation?
Barbara Lardner: Some granting organizations do require this but not all of them do. Again, you have to read the grant to make sure what they require. Some of them do. The granting organization needs to know that their money is doing good in the community. They want to know what their impact is in the community. This assessment or evaluation is usually submitted after the project is completed. You need to know the timeline because they will say, “Two weeks after your project’s done or a month after your project’s done, we need to know the assessment.” You need to know what the assessment is beforehand before your application is in.
There can be a multiple of things you can do for your assessment. I’ve had one grant, I had to put in a portfolio of photos. It could be a written statement. I have done that or it could be a record of data showing that there has been improvement in the student. Again, sometimes, you could create your own assessment. They don’t require a special thing. I just had to put in a portfolio one time and I got to decide what went into the portfolio. Another grant that I’ve gotten in the past, it has to be a written statement. You submit it and you share your assessment. It’s just to basically show the impact that their money has made on the children.
Some of the organizations might like to share their assessments online. Sometimes, that’s great because when you’re writing a grant, you’re like, “Oh, what should I do? What should be my project to do?” You can look up and see some assessments that other people have put for their grants that they’ve gotten with granting organizations. You can see what they’ve done. It might spark an idea in you, “Oh well, maybe I could do something similar to that or tweak that idea.” You can actually look up online and see what some organizations have used for assessments. You can get ideas that way.
Cindy Ingram: Is it the bigger the grant, the bigger the requirements after? Have you seen that to be true?
Barbara Lardner: Yes. When I did the Fulbright, I gave them a portfolio and they actually shared that with other teachers who go through the Fulbright program, so they can see what other teachers have done before. That’s really great too. I made a copy of the portfolio for myself because I wanted to save those memories but I gave a portfolio to them also. It all depends. The bigger grants require a bigger assessment type of thing.
Cindy Ingram: I know that a lot of teachers are scared of grants because of all the extra work involved. They might not be confident in their writing skills or teachers are already so bogged down. What are some of the ways to make this process easier?
Barbara Lardner: My first tip would be, after you’ve written your grant, to read it and read it again, and read it again. You can read it aloud because you want to hear how it’s going to flow because you may think it sounds great but when you read it out loud, it’s like, “Oh, I could tweak that a little bit.” Read it out loud to make sure how it flows because if it doesn’t flow for you, it’s not going to flow for the person who’s reading it. If it’s not clear to you, it’s not going to be clear to them. My other advice, if you’re starting out, I think I said this earlier, is start with the smaller grants. Less stress, less competition. You’re more likely to get the grant because there’s less competition. Start small and that would be another advice.
Cindy Ingram: I can imagine that a lot of teachers don’t apply for grants because of that fear of all the extra work. I know that happened. When I was teaching in Dallas ISD, there was something that we could just apply for. Maybe it took me 20 minutes to do the application. Everybody who just submitted the application, I don’t remember how much it was but it was like $600. It wasn’t very much money but it was a good amount of money. It was a 15-minute application but so many teachers saw it and they’re like, “Oh, I can’t do this.” Then when everybody got this money, they were just punching themselves. I think don’t be afraid to just give it a try.
Barbara Lardner: There’s a state grant, I think the deadline is October 1st to get it put in. The first month of school, so crazy and it’s like, “Oh, should I put in for this. It’s going to take away so much time because it’s the beginning of the year. I’m just getting used to the kids and there’s so much.” Set deadlines for yourself. Just work on it a little bit at a time. Don’t just think, “Oh, I gotta sit down and give up my whole weekend for writing this grant to get it in by October 1st.” Set small deadlines for yourself, “I’ll do it this day,” “In a couple of days, I’ll do this.” That’s the way I work. It’s a way that works best for me. I’m not the type of person to just do it in one shot. I like to find myself and give myself time to work up to it.
Cindy Ingram: What else is involved in this application? What’s next?
Barbara Lardner: Okay, great. Next, you have to submit your application for the grant. You have to make sure, you have to ask yourself, “Did I follow all the rules, all the procedures, all the deadlines that have to be followed?” That goes back I think I said at the very beginning, as you’re reading the grant, make sure you highlight everything, the materials you have to have, anything that’s important, so you can check to make sure that you have met all those little things you highlighted in that grant. Again, you want to make sure it’s clear. You want to make sure it’s concise. Do your last steps to polish it up. Make sure you check all the spelling, check all the grammar. You can have somebody else read it for you. You want to just make sure you check the flow, that it flows right when somebody reads it. Again, they will not fund what they can’t comprehend and things that you take for granted, I mean when you’re with a bunch of teachers together and you’re talking about stuff, we all have the same language, they might not have that same language, so you want to make sure that they’re going to be able to comprehend it. You just follow all the timelines, then you can just send it in snail mail. I don’t even know if any grants do snail mail anymore or just send it in by email.
Cindy Ingram: And don’t forget to check your email regularly after you submit it. My husband got a scholarship one time, it was like $1000. He didn’t see the email, then time passed and he didn’t end up getting it.
Barbara Lardner: Oh my goodness.
Cindy Ingram: Make sure you check your email.
Barbara Lardner: I wanted to say that before you submit it, make a copy of the proposal and just keep it in a little folder because that could be useful to you, and valuable to you for future reference when you’re making another proposal down the line. I don’t want to forget to talk about budget too because the budget is very important when you’re submitting a grant. You don’t want to guess any of the numbers. You want to do your research on the actual expenses because the person who’s reading it, they’re not going to do the research. If you’re asking for circuits for a project, they’re not going to look in a Blick catalog to see how much those circuits cost. You want to make sure that your numbers are believable. You want to make sure that your numbers are actual. I would just go to the catalog, the art education catalogs and I just would link it to the application online. While they’re reading the budget, they could make sure that I’m not making up these numbers. They could just go into that link and see, “Oh, okay. She was looking for glitter paint and this is how much the glitter paint costs.” That’s what you put on the application. You can just link those budget items that the catalogs put online and just submit it, sit back, and wait if you got it.
Cindy Ingram: That’s wonderful. I can imagine that a lot of the same copy that you’ve written for past grants can be reused for other grants. If you have to write a little bit about your school or about your students, you have that already written. It gets easier with each time.
Barbara Lardner: Yeah. If somebody says, “I want to know what your free and reduced lunch is at your school.” I can always check with the secretary at the school but the numbers are going to be about the same, the population is going to be about the same. I can just go back, reference those numbers to make sure they’re accurate, then put it in.
Cindy Ingram: Awesome. I think we’ve covered the main parts of all of this. Can you think of any other tips or suggestions that we have not yet covered?
Barbara Lardner: You want to find the grant, you want to write the grant, you want to write your proposal. If you need that letter of support, you want to get your assessment and your evaluation, then submit it. Then I do have some tips and best practices for the listeners, for those parts of submitting a grant and go over some of those. First, you want to do your homework. You will research the granting foundation. You want to know what its mission is because you don’t want to waste your time if it’s not compatible. You want to start small. You want to start local because every state has its own local grants, I mean every state has a department of environmental management. A lot of the departments of environmental management have granting grants part of them. It’s just you hooking up the art with something environmental. You could design a garden at your school and grow vegetables.
My state is a small state and like I said earlier, we have two family foundations that support education. I’m sure other states would have that too. It’s just looking it up. I got a grant once from the Rhode Island Department of Health to have my students design a billboard on lead paint poisoning. Every state has a department of health, I mean I don’t know if every state department of health gives grants but you could certainly find out.
Another tip is you don’t have to get everything in one grant. You could combine two or three small grants to get supplies for your classroom. When it comes to brainstorming ideas, I know that I spoke just a little bit at the beginning about brainstorming but how do you do that? My phrase for that is collaborate to win when you brainstorm. Seek a colleague at school to throw ideas around. Find a veteran grant writer in your school. If you’re a newbie starting out, trying to do grants, just go and talk to them, pick their mind, and get ideas. Also, if you’re somebody who’s been doing grants for a long time, you might want to talk to somebody who’s a new teacher because you can get some inspiration and some new fresh ideas from the younger teachers.
When I was just starting out as a teacher, I went to a more seasoned teacher and I told her, “Oh, I’m going to write this grant because I want to go to graduate school.” She gave me just some really good advice and I’ll pass it along. When I was writing the grant, she said don’t write it how it’s going to benefit me, if I could go to graduate school, write it on how it will benefit the students and how me, getting a master’s degree, is going to be better for the students and for my community. That was just the best advice. I always think of that before I write a grant. It’s not all about me getting the money. It’s for the kids. It’s for my school. It’s for my community. I wanted to make sure I pass that along because I was just starting out teaching and I went to her, and I was able to go to the University of Tennessee and get my master’s in art because of that.
Cindy Ingram: That’s amazing. Was the grant through the school or was it just an outside granting organization?
Barbara Lardner: My community.
Cindy Ingram: Wow, that’s really awesome.
Barbara Lardner: One thing I wanted to say about collaborating is ask your students for ideas because you can just say, “Hey, what do you think our classroom needs? What does our art room really need?” They will throw out ideas and it’s like, “Oh yeah. Maybe that’s a good idea.”
Cindy Ingram: I love it. That’s great. I think that’s some really awesome advice to wrap up our interview. I’m going to ask you a couple of final questions and one of them is just how can teachers connect with you online? Do you have any public social media, website, or anything?
Barbara Lardner: I do. I am on Twitter at art_inklings. I do have a blog. It was a blog when I taught middle school. I really haven’t added to it yet but it’s still up there and people still go on to it. I still get messages from people from my blog.
Cindy Ingram: I love it.
Barbara Lardner: Someday, I should go back and continue. Once I went back to elementary, I didn’t add to my blog. That’s why you inspire me because you have your website. I really appreciate your website. I enjoy it.
Cindy Ingram: Thank you very much. The final question that I ask everybody I interview is what artwork changed your life?
Barbara Lardner: Oh my gosh. I’ll just tell you a story that I always tell the kids and they are like, “Wow.” I was probably about three or four years old, because I couldn’t even read, my parents got me an art history book with all these pictures of all this art. I just looked at that book and I was looking through all the art, and something just went into my heart and I said, “This is amazing. I want to do something with art in my life.” It made me become an art history nerd. I started taking art classes as a young person and I ended up becoming an art teacher. It’s not just one piece of art. It was just that book looking at an anthology of art. I knew from four years old that I wanted to do something with art after looking in that book.
Cindy Ingram: I love that.
Barbara Lardner: My parents passed away and I was like, “I want that book.” It’s still on my bookshelf today.
Cindy Ingram: That’s wonderful. It’s just the smallest things that are there. Every time I hear these stories, there’s never anything that you can plan. It just happens.
Barbara Lardner: Yeah, it planted a seed in my heart. I knew from that moment, I wanted to do something in my life with art.
Cindy Ingram: That’s wonderful. Do you have a favorite artwork or artist?
Barbara Lardner: Oh gosh, I love them all. I will say I love children’s book illustrations. There is an artist by the name of Kay Nielsen who was a children’s book illustrator. If you ever watch Walt Disney’s Fantasia, he did the Night on Bald Mountain. He did a few things. He did book illustrations. He did work with Walt Disney, Kay Nielsen.
Cindy Ingram: Wonderful. We’ll put a link to some of his art in the show notes for you all to check out because I just Googled it as you were talking. It’s pretty cool. I’ve never seen his work before. It looks amazing. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise today with our listeners. I know that there’s a lot there that they can take and use when they get their first grant.
Barbara Lardner: My last thing, don’t give up writing grants. Even if you get rejected, don’t give up. Use it as a learning experience.
Cindy Ingram: Oh, another question, which is I don’t want to continue the interview, but if you don’t get it, can you reply back and ask why? Will they tell you?
Barbara Lardner: Oh yeah, that was my other tip, try to get a relationship with the people at the granting organization. I can call up a few of them and ask questions. Yes, definitely, try to develop a relationship with them, email or call.
Cindy Ingram: Okay, good. Little last, last tip for you. Thank you again so much. This was great.
Barbara Lardner: Thank you for having me, Cindy. I’ve enjoyed it.
Cindy Ingram: If your art appreciation classes were anything like mine, they happen in dark rooms with endless slides and boring lectures. Art in the dark. But art appreciation doesn’t have to turn into nap time for your students. Start connecting your students to art with powerful class discussions. It can be intimidating to start talking about art with students, so teachers always want to know what they should say. The real question is what you should ask. You can get 82 questions to ask about almost any work of art for free on the Art Class Curator Blog. The free download includes the list of questions plus cards that you can cut out and laminate to use, again and again. These versatile questions can be used in everything from bell ringers to group activities to critiques. Just go to artclasscurator.com/questions to get your free copy today.
Thank you so much for listening to The Art Class Curator Podcast. If you like what you hear, please subscribe and give us an honest rating on iTunes to help other teachers find us, and hear these amazing art conversations and art teacher insights. Be sure to tune in next week for more art inspiration and curated conversations.
82 Questions About Art
82 questions you can use to start and extend conversations about works of art with your classroom. Free download includes a list plus individual question cards perfect for laminating!
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