Vashon Artists in Schools (VAIS) – in partnership with

Vashon Island School District for over 30 years!

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 other 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 November. Residencies range from 10-40 hours and typically take place between December and June.

2022-23 VAIS Teaching Artist Roster

2022-23 VAIS Project Application

VAIS is a Washington State OSPI Clock Hour Provider

Teachers attending our qualifying Talks on the Rock may access response forms here: Talks on the Rock Response Form


VAIS Project About to Hatch at the Judd Creek Headwaters

In the spring of 2021, VAIS resident, endangered species and social justice artist Britt Freda worked with 5th grade teachers Jen Lindsay, Phd, Layla Tanner, Nancy Jones, and Madalyn Brown and their students at Chautauqua Elementary to create a collaborative public art installation of painted cedar salmon to raise awareness for protecting and improving watershed habitat.  On Wednesday, May 19, more than 90 students—both distance learners and young people, who are recently able to attend school in-person—will come together in small groups to install the collective artwork in the Heron Meadow, on the east side of the Vashon Center for the Arts campus.  Read More!

Eco-System Activism Posters
As a part of the Action Network, led by third grade teachers, Margie Butcher, Paul Wahlen and Erin Calhoun, students learned from an exceptional group of experts including director of Sound Action, Amy Carey, marine ecologist with Washington Sea Grant and UW, Jeff Adams, researcher and founder of Killer Whale Tales, Jeff Hogan, UW lecturer Erik McDonald, co-founder and executive director of The Natural History Museum, Beka Economopoulos, marine biologist and marine veterinarian, Tag Gornall, sustainable and restorative landscape architect, Betsy Severtsen, Erika Carleton (formerly with Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust), Education Specialists for Vashon Nature Center, Maria Metler, and Founder and Director of Whale Scout, Whitney Neugebauer! See the posters and hear the student/artists speak to the inspiration behind their drawings.

Fluctus Formarum Unveiled
Happy 30th anniversary to VAIS!  September 8, 2018 was named Vashon Artists in Schools Day by our unofficial mayor after he chewed a ribbon and unveiled Vashon’s newest piece of public art.  Fluctus Formarum:  A Flood of Forms, now at home in the green space south of Vashon Pharmacy, was a collaboration between island artist Ela Lamblin and students in Art & Design and Physics classes at Vashon High School.  Exploring the theme of waves students delved into what public art can be, using applied physics to design a piece.  The result truly celebrates the collaborative power of students, teachers, and artists, as well as the community partnerships that make our program so strong.

Vashon Thriftway generously underwrote this project, and Vashon Partners in Education provided additional funding. Bob Powell of Meadow Creature machined all the steel for the sculpture, and graciously gave students a behind the scenes look at his shop, including a demonstration of his abrasive water-jet cutting machine. Ela Lamblin was the heart of the work – leading the students, doing all the fabrication, and making this project come to life! Many other hands were involved, from the cement base to landscaping, and we are so grateful for the support everyone has shown for the students of our community and for VAIS!

For more information about how to get involved with VAIS, please contact us 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 CommissionVashon Partners in Education (PIE), Vashon Thriftway, Family & Community Engagement (FACE), Vashon Schools Foundation and individual donors.

Thank you for supporting our students!