jessica speaking



About Jessica

whitechairJessica Balsley is a passionate art educator, graduate instructor, wife, mother, and entrepreneur. She is most well known as the founder of “The Education Sea” (
www.education-sea.com), a popular online professional development resource for art teachers. 

Jessica loves to share her wealth of experience gained serving as a K-5 Art Teacher in the second fastest growing school district in Iowa. There, she also served as her district’s Art Department Coordinator for three years, designing and implementing professional development for the K-12 Art Team, while simultaneously teaching graduate courses as an adjunct instructor for local college and writing for Arts and Activities Magazine.  Jessica has served on the Art Educators of Iowa board and worked on several committees including planning the 2011 AEI State Conference and is on NAEA’s IRG Committee. Today, Jessica lives in Osage, IA with her husband Derek and their 2 year old daughter, Nora. 

While writing her Master’s Thesis on Professional Development for Art Teachers, Jessica realized that art teachers needed and deserved more when it came to their professional development. She decided to stop sitting on the sidelines and do something about it. Thus, her current endeavor (where she is now devoted to full time) The Education Sea, was born. Jessica provides “Ridiculously Relevant™ Professional Development” to Art Educators all around the world, including a robust catalog of 16+ online degree-level classes for Art Teachers, an online magazine which offers free daily articles, lesson plans, tips, tricks, videos, and discussions about the hottest issues in art education.

With a down to earth and realistic approach, Jessica continues on her lifetime goal of empowering art teachers to thrive in their profession, to reignite their passion for teaching, and help art educators discover small tweaks they can make in their teaching to change their life and career for the better.





Upcoming Events

Do you want to see Jessica speak live in-person? Are you hoping to book Jessica for your next event, but want to check her availability first? Here are some of Jessica’s upcoming speaking engagements. New events added regularly.


September 21-22 – NATA (Nebraska) - Two Presentations
October 3-5 – AENJ (New Jersey) - Featured Evening Presentation and Two Breakouts
October 11th – AEI (Iowa) - Keynote
October 18-20 – AEAI (Indiana) - Keynote
October 24-25 – WAEA (Wisconsin) - Keynote
November 8-9 – AEM (Minnesota) - Two Presentations
March 29-31 – NAEA (National) - Four Presentations



Most Requested Topics

Presentations can be adapted and optimized to fit any audience and any need. You can even choose any of our many online classes, as a topic for Jessica to discuss at your event. Contact us now, to discuss the possibilities.

 “The Empowered Art Teacher”*most popular*

Explore the 10 areas art teachers need master for success in the Art Ed profession. Learn to re-set your motivation and mindset regardless of the struggles you face on a daily basis.  Follow along as Jessica helps you discover the 10 Keys to Empowerment. These are easy things you can do in order to get the credit you deserve as a professional art educator. Get ready to see a huge difference in how your view your students, your profession, and your SELF. Attitude does matter – Become an empowered art teacher today!

 “Assessment for the Rest of Us”

Ditch the Rubric! The future will be increasingly filled with expectations to assess in the Arts. Assessment doesn’t have to be a bad word, and doesn’t have to be scary for Art Teachers. This presentation provides Art Teachers with the ammunition they need to use assessment, not only as a way to measure student progress but also as an advocacy tool to promote their Art Program and celebrate student success and form important relationships with administration and the community. It’s time to think differently about assessments in Art Education – let’s discover how!

 “How to Create a Standards-Based Art Curriculum Without Selling your Soul”

Follow along as Jessica shares the struggles and successes her own team had developing an effective standards based art curriculum. It is possible to find that perfect balance between common standards and common assessments in your art program without sacrificing the autonomy and passion of each art teacher – and here’s the proof.

 ”Keep Calm and Teach Art : 10 Strategies for Managing the Art Room”

Charts, Graphs, reward systems all seem fine at first – but have you noticed after a few weeks or months these programs often fizzle and your students go back to their old tricks?  In this fast-paced and entertaining presentation by Jessica Balsley, founder of the Education Sea (www.education-sea.com), you’ll discover insider secrets and essential classroom management strategies that can be put to use in your art room, right away! Stop the daily struggle, end the frustration, and help your students get to the important stuff: making art!

 ”The Modern Art Teacher’s Survival Guide” *most popular*

From traveling between schools, classes overloaded with students, art time being slashed in half, and more expectations like common core, assessments, and data hanging over our heads, it seems we will never get back to simpler times. This presentation will re-affirm your faith that teaching art IS indeed the best job in the world: once we sort through and conquer the rubble that tries to cloud it.





Clips from Past Keynotes




What Others are Saying

This conference was wonderful… The highlight of my day was Session II, in which I was able to hear directly from Jessica Balsley, founder of AOE. I am SO thankful that I was able to attend this conference, if only for the inspiring resources I gained from listening to her speak today. All art educators in the audience were engaged and hanging upon her every word. She is a true leader in the world of art education. The passion she exhibits for her profession is remarkable and admirable. I look forward to putting her methods of art assessment into practice in my art room.

-Jess O., AEM, 2012


When at the Minnesota Art Education conference on Friday I got that VERY needed boost for my next quarter.  I took away some amazing snippets of energy from the sessions I attended… An unexpected highlight was running into Jessica Balsley of The Education Sea. Jessica presented a session that I attended about assessment and got the whole room excited for assessment… not an easy task.

-Nic H., AEM, 2012




How to Book Jessica

jessica speaking crowd

Are you ready to book Jessica for your next event? Or maybe check her availability and/or discuss the possible event details? Contact The Education Sea through our contact page, or via email at customersupport@education-sea.com for more information.
Don’t have the funds to fly Jessica in for a 1-on-1? Consider PD Paks. PD Paks are an affordable and efficient consultative package developed by AOE to give local Art Teacher teams the information and inspiration they need. You still get personalized interaction with Jessica, but you can move at your own pace and dive as deeply into the included information as you need.

Learn more about PD Paks.