This year Vashon Artists in Schools (VAIS) celebrates the 30th anniversary of our powerful partnership with Vashon Island School District!

Our mission has always been to build upon and enhance curriculum in the arts across subject areas by providing students with enriching and challenging multidisciplinary learning opportunities. To do this we pair local artists with teachers at the district in classroom-based Direct Learning Residencies, integrating art into core subjects. These residencies provide opportunities for students to engage more deeply with their learning, making connections between their curriculum, themselves, and their community. By bringing the arts to students in the classroom we eliminate barriers to access and aim to engage all students. Each year approximately 80% of students are involved with at least one of the 20+ residencies happening across the district. Vashon’s small population has supported VAIS year after year because islanders place a high value on the arts and trust in the transformative power of artistic experiences to develop our children into compassionate, creative problem solvers.

In addition to the classroom-based Direct Learning Residencies we also support student-created Public Art Projects in our community, as well as Artist Mentorships. Mentorships give teachers an opportunity to become students themselves as they deepen their experience of art and creativity and broaden their skills base for teaching in their own classrooms by working directly with master teaching artists.

How It Works

Each fall, VISD teachers preK-12 have access to a roster of vetted teaching artists and are invited to apply for a residency. Teachers are encouraged to work closely with an artist partner in developing the application.  A committee, including staff-members from Vashon Center for the Arts and Vashon Island School District, make funding decisions in early December. Residencies range from 10-40 hours and typically take place between January and June.

Artist Roster

The VAIS Roster is a resource for teachers, offering a list of vetted professional artists, residency ideas, and professional background information. Please follow this link for our updated 2017-18 Roster.

Current Teaching Artists include: Britt Freda, Liz Lewis, Barbara Gustafson, David Godsey, Ivonne Escobar de Kommer, Allison Crain Trundle, Vadne Domeika, Martha Enson, Ray Pfortner, Mik Kuhlman, Tom Pruiksma, Lelavision, William Jarcho, Darren Lay, Odin Lonning, Geri Siebert, and many more.

Artists wishing to teach with VAIS are invited to apply at any time by sending a letter of interest and resume to


Check back here in September for the 2018-19 application!


Encaustics Show
A perennial favorite, Ray Pfortner’s Encaustics residency with VAIS is on display in the lobby of the Kay White Hall during the month of June.  The students were prolific – 195 pieces are exhibited from 3 McMurray classes, showing the range of creativity and skill the students developed.  First Friday opening, June 1st, 6-9pm.

Kamishibai on Display
At the Blue Heron 5th grade work in the Japanese storytelling art of Kamishibai is adorning our walls through June. Students worked with artists Roxy Hathaway and Nancy Scott Wienker in this VAIS residency, writing a personal family story then painting 3 scenes in a unique watercolor wash technique to illustrate the action and emotion.  Like all good storytelling, these pieces are meant to be read aloud.  Kamishibai has its roots in the 8thcentury when Buddhist monks used picture scrolls to teach history, and the Chautauqua students’ work shows just how timeless art can be with funny and touching stories from their own modern lives.  First Friday opening, Blue Heron, June 1st, 6-8pm.

World Premiere Performance Piece
Thursday, June 7th, 7:30pm come watch the world premiere of an original performance piece by VHS students!  In this VAIS residency Stephen Floyd’s Theatre Arts students worked with Maria Glanz and Elizabeth Klob of UMO to develop a new work of ensemble-generated devised theatre.  Dive into the hearts of these writers and performers as they explore the universal, opposing themes of isolation/connection, shame/self-acceptance, and anxiety/confidence.

VAIS Awarded NEA Grant
We are thrilled to announce Vashon Artists in Schools has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant for the 2018-19 school year! We are honored to be recognized for the hard work Vashon’s teaching artists and classroom teachers do every day to holistically engage our island’s kids through deep arts learning.
The NEA has awarded $80 million dollars in funding to organizations across the country in this second round of Art Works grants and specifically supports projects that “focus on creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.” We are so grateful to the NEA and Chairman Jane Chu for their support!

For more information about how to get involved with VAIS, please contact Program Manager Kaycie Alanis at

Vashon Artists in Schools (VAIS) is a Vashon Center for the Arts program in partnership with Vashon Island School District.  Additional and generous support is provided by Washington State Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, Vashon Partners in Education (PIE), Vashon Thriftway, and individual donors.

Thank you for supporting our students!