Jess-Three-HeadshotsWelcome to the Education Sea.

A few years ago, I was working towards my masters degree, and discovered it was nearly impossible to find relevant professional development opportunities out there for art teachers.  Through this personal experience, the idea for The Education Sea was born.

After that, my husband Derek and I set out on a mission to provide Ridiculously Relevant™ Professional Development to Art Educators around the world.  What started as a blog, quickly morphed into a catalog of 15+ online classes for Art Teachers, and an online magazine with daily articles, tips, tricks, videos, and the first ever online conference just for art teachers.

As art educators, we all speak the same language… We just “get” each other! AOE is your place to feel at home – to interact with and learn from Art Teachers just like you from all around the world. AOE is a place where we can address the issues that matter to us all.

As a former K-5 Art Teacher, current higher-ed instructor, wife, mother, and entrepreneur, I understand what you are going through every day. AOE exists to help empower you to thrive in your profession, to reignite your passion for teaching, and help you discover that one small tweak you can make in your teaching to change your life and career for the better.

Read Articles by Jessica  |  Contact Jessica  |  Book Jessica


Welcome to the Education Sea,






AOE = Art Teachers

AOE is proud to serve Art Teachers exclusively. We live and breathe art ed, and leverage the internet so wherever you teach… in the big city, in the suburbs, or in the middle of nowhere… you can access AOE professional development opportunities equally. We offer fully accredited online classes for license renewal, online conferences which you can attend from the comfort of home, not to mention daily articles, tips, tricks, videos, and more to help inspire you to career success!


Classes Round IconOnline Classes

Ridiculously Relevant™ online classes, just for Art Teachers. 16 fully-accredited and transferrable degree-level courses.

Classes Round IconOnline Workshops

Live events covering the most controversial & trending topics in Art Ed. Interact live with AOE Leaders and teachers from around the world.

Classes Round IconOnline Magazine

Daily articles, tips, tricks, and classroom strategies just for art teachers. 100% relevant to art ed, and 100% free – hard to beat that!

Classes Round IconPD PAKS

Customized professional development for groups of art teachers. Get your entire team on the same page with this digital consulting package.

Classes Round IconLessons

Simple 1-page downloadable lesson plans designed and tested by real art teachers. Creative based outcomes – guaranteed.

Speaking Round IconSpeaking

Book Jessica or another AOE team member to speak at your next art ed event! Large events only please, including conference keynotes.

Classes Round IconVideos

Follow along with Jessica and other great AOE Team members as they share tips, tricks, and practical ideas you can put to use in your art room, tomorrow!

Classes Round IconeBooks

Want to dive further into topics you read about on The Education Sea? Start with AOE eBooks – they’re inexpensive and chock full of the details you need!





Do you read AOE every day? All AOE articles, lesson plans, tips, and tricks are written by some of the most innovative Art Teachers in the country – inspiring educators, and truly deserving members of the ‘AOE Team’. Read more about each writer below, and don’t forget to drop your favorite writer an email to let them know what you thought of their most recent article!


AmandaAmanda Heyn

Senior Editor / Writer

Hi, my name is Amanda. My passion for art education comes out of a belief that the art room is the most important room in the school. Where else can students work on creative problem-solving skills, increase their self-esteem, and become part of a meaningful community all at the same time? In addition, I love to incorporate cross-curricular themes into many of the lessons I teach. This year marks a big change for me.  I will be taking on the new role of motherhood while taking a year-long leave of absence from my wonderful position at an elementary school in southern Wisconsin. I am beyond thrilled to be able to continue to create content for AOE during this time. I look forward to sharing useful tips and tricks and engaging in lively discussions with you here at AOE.

Articles by Amanda | Email | Blog

Sarah-DSarah Dougherty

My name is Sarah Dougherty, and I am the Visual Arts Curriculum Coordinator and Arts Integration Specialist for the largest school district in Iowa. Previously, I served as an elementary art teacher for six years and taught one year of high school 2-D art. Developing standards-based curriculum, creating meaningful assessment tools for the visual arts, and arts integration are particular interests of mine.

Outside of the art room, I spend my time with my husband, Brian, and our toddler, Alice. We enjoy living in a tiny town where we keep a small flock of heritage breed chickens. When I’m not teaching, you can find me in the kitchen, in the garden, at the sewing machine or behind the camera lens. I’m delighted to be a member of The Education Sea writing team, where I hope to be a part of some truly meaningful conversations about the important work we do every day.

Articles by SarahEmail | Pinterest

CassidyCassidy Reinken

Hi, my name is Cassidy Reinken and I am a middle school art specialist.  I am passionate about teaching art history and the art elements and principles of design in my curriculum.  My interactive whiteboard is used on a daily basis.  Graduate classes and art curriculum writing fascinate and inspire me.  When I’m not in the art studio at school, I am spending time with my family, traveling, cooking, exercising, and consignment shopping for deals.  I am interested in fiber reactive dyes and bookmaking.  I am honored and excited to be a part of The Education Sea team.  I look forward to learning right along with you!

Articles by Cassidy | Email

IanIan Sands

Hey! my name is Ian Sands and I teach art at Apex High School in North Carolina. I’m originally from NYC where I received my BFA from the School of Visual Arts. I have an extensive background with computer graphics, having worked as a web designer before my current students were even born. Needless to say, I enjoy teaching computer art but also have a passion for teaching with non traditional materials such as Post it Notes, balloons and even mud.

When I’m not teaching art, I like to go on vacation with my wife and three kids.. someplace warm where the fishing is good.

I’m excited to be part of the AOE writing team.

Articles by Ian | Email | Blog

AleciaAlecia Eggers

Hello! My name is Alecia Eggers and I teach K-6 elementary art in a large district in central Iowa.  I am passionate about teaching and reaching my students. I see myself as a facilitator of artistic experiences, creative skill building, and assisting students in the development of their artistic identities.  It is my philosophy and mission to provide my students with a well rounded, innovative, fun, and meaningful arts education.

When I am not in the art room, I am spending time with family and friends, crafting, practicing yoga, baking, and endlessly organizing.  I love finding inspiration and being inspired by the arts and fellow art educators.  I am so excited to be a part of the AOE team and embark on this continuous journey of learning, sharing, and innovation!

Articles by Alecia | Email



Class Instructors

AOE Online Classes are the most ‘ridiculously relevant’ way for Art Teachers around the world to earn PD points or Master’s Degree level credits, from the comfort of home. All of our online classes were designed by art teachers, for art teachers, and carry full HLC accreditation from Morningside College. Currently, we offer over 15 amazing classes; there’s at least one to fit every art teacher’s interests.

AOE Class Instructors are hand-selected to provide you with a top notch and engaging class experience. They’ll guide you step-by-step as you discover new class management techniques, develop your own curriculum, discover how the common core affects you, test new assessment techniques, and a whole lot more!




Heather Crockett

Senior Instructor / Writer

Heather Crockett is a veteran teacher with more than 10 years of experience in the classroom and 7 years experience teaching at the graduate level.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education from the University of Iowa (2002) and her Masters degree from Viterbo University (2006).  Her expertise includes working with a wide range of learners (including acceleration and differientation), curriculum planning, assessment, cross-curricular integration, technology, and arts advocacy.

Articles by HeatherEmail


Trish Christiansen

Patricia Christiansen is a high school teacher from central Iowa.  She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in Drawing from the University of Iowa (2000) and a Master’s of Art degree in Art Education from Iowa State University (2005).  Patricia enjoys teaching all media particularly Ceramics, Sculpture, Photography, and Drawing.  Her passion in education lies in instructional development, assessment, and technology in the arts.  Patricia strives to create fun and highly productive environments within her classroom that promote a sense of community.

Email Patricia


Theresa Gillespie

Theresa Gillespie has been teaching Art for over 18 years in a very diverse school district. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education from Augstana College in 1992 and her Masters degree in Education and Technology from Western Governor’s University in 2010. She is well versed in teaching to a very diverse student population which includes English language learners, accelerated learners, and those needing differentiated instruction. She also has expertise in curriculum development, behavior interventions, arts integration, and technology integration.

Email Theresa | Blog


Kelly Berwager

Kelly Berwager is a veteran visual arts teacher with more than 17 years of experience in the P-12 classroom, as well as 3 years of experience at the graduate level. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Birmingham-Southern College (1985), her Masters of Art in Art Education from The University of Alabama at Birmingham (1995) and her PhD in Educational Research from The University of Alabama (2013). Her expertise includes cross-curricular development and instruction, choice-based lessons, assessment, and action research. Her research interests include arts-based research, action research, art education teacher professional identity development, and empowering art education teachers to be researchers in their classrooms.

Email Kelly | LinkedIn


Customer Support

Have a question or comment for AOE? The AOE Customer Support Team is here to help. Whether you want to find out whether your school will accept AOE Class credits, or you no longer want to receive AOE emails, whatever it is… we’re available. You can reach AOE Customer Support by emailing admin@education-sea.com or calling/texting 515.650.3198.


Sarah-WSarah Welch

Customer Happiness Guru

Hello!  I’m Sarah, and I am a studio artist living in Minneapolis, MN.  I specialize in printmaking and sell my work through various outlets through my business, Wooden Spoon Editions. I earned my BA from Luther College, and studied further at SACI in Florence, Italy. In my free time I enjoy traveling, being outdoors, and spending time with my husband and our pup. I am thrilled to be working with such talented people at AOE!

Email | Sarah’s Art





Founders: Derek and Jessica Balsley

“Unique perspectives, shared values, and complementary strengths.”  That’s what makes the partnership work.

As you can tell from all the faces on this about page, it takes a team to make AOE  successful on a daily basis. The truth is, that it also took a team to dream it up! In 2012 Derek and Jessica Balsley transformed Jessica’s popular Art Ed blog into the first-ever online magazine for art education, and a blossoming online professional development platform for art educators everywhere.

Since that time, AOE has expanded to offer a tremendous breadth and depth of ‘Ridiculously Relevant Professional Development’ opportunities for art teachers around the world, including online classes, online conferences, ebooks, lesson plans, consulting, and more…. Today, AOE is being read and reviewed by tens of thousands of art teachers every month.

Thank you for visiting, and thank you for your passion for Art Ed – we’ve got to stick together!

Derek’s background is in business management, branding, integrated marketing, customer experience (CX), technology, and social media. He’s the ‘business half’ of the company.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Jessica’s background is in Art Education, higher education, graduate instruction, leadership, public speaking, and motivation. She’s the ‘art ed half’ of the company.

LinkedIn | Twitter