Vashon Artists in Schools 

Partnering 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.

2023-24 VAIS Teaching Artist Roster

2023-24 VAIS Project Application (Applications Closed: Please Contact VAIS Mgr. for special projects.)


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!

Spark … An Intergenerational Connection

What happens when 70 3rd graders and 70 Vashon elders become pen pals? A magical connection. After corresponding the old-fashioned way all winter, students and elders met this spring for the first time, each teaching the other something they chose together through their correspondence. This was part of Action Network, the 3rd grade social studies unit where students chose a topic of interest that they feel is affecting us here on Vashon.

The culmination was an Artist in Residence project grant through VCA’s Vashon Artists in Schools with Vashon photographer Dawn Stief. Click on the image for more information and to hear each student/artist speak to the inspiration behind their drawing.

This program was so powerful for all involved it will be the new 3rd Grade Program!

VAIS is a Washington State Clock Hour Provider

Teachers attending our Talks on the Rock lecture series may access response forms here when they become available for the new season!

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 the National Endowment for the Arts, Washington State Arts CommissionVashon Partners in Education (PIE), Vashon Thriftway, Vashon Parent-Teacher Organization, Vashon Schools Foundation and individual donors.

Thank you for supporting our students!