We are proud to announce (though heartbroken to know) that Director of Youth Education Neal Barbour has accepted a teaching position at Bishop Seabury Academy. While he will officially be departing the Lawrence Arts Center in mid-December, his legacy in Youth Education will remain, and he will always be a member of our family.
Neal originally joined the Arts Center team as an art education specialist in October 2014, but within a year had risen to the director position. In these past five years, Neal has reinvigorated the program through the curriculum he has developed and the relationships he has established. Most recently Neal has been instrumental in adapting Youth Education programming to continue providing classes and activities during the pandemic, setting the pace for adaptability at the Arts Center. He has been a presence not only in Youth Education, but across programs.
Kyla Strid, Director of Residencies and Adult Education, said Neal’s unshakeable optimism had been an inspiration.
“We will miss Neal’s enthusiasm, flexibility, and seemingly endless ideas,” she said. “It felt like there was never a problem, only new opportunities to be imagined on any given day.”
Neal earned a Master of Art in Teaching from the University of Portland (OR) in 2007 after receiving his undergraduate degree in English Writing in 2002. Following graduation, Neal taught in Portland-area schools for several years. In 2011 he came to Kansas and taught visual arts at Topeka West High School before joining the Arts Center team in 2014. Neal has received numerous grants, and has served on the boards of multiple arts organizations. In 2017 Neal was a youth program awards finalist with the National Arts and Humanities Council. In 2018 he was named a White-Riley-Peterson Fellow through Furman University, where he was among 16 educators who spent 10 months studying afterschool and expanded learning policy, and developing policy plans in partnership with State Afterschool Networks and the National Afterschool Alliance.
He brought all of this experience and bundles of enthusiasm to his art and his work with children in Lawrence. Neal said that although he was excited to begin a new chapter in his life, he was happy to have had the opportunity to join the Arts Center team and work toward its mission to ensure that art and art education are accessible to all.
“I have loved so much about this position—the amazing co-workers who fill me with awe and passion, and the daily crazy conversations that are filled with whimsy, joy, and relevance. A dream job for sure,” he said.
Lawrence Arts Center Chief Executive Officer Margaret Weisbrod Morris said that although Neal’s daily presence would be sorely missed, she was certain that he would always have a role to play.
“We will all miss Neal terribly,” she said. “That being said, you never really LEAVE the Arts Center…. You just change what you do here.”
Congratulations to you and your family, Neal!
For information about the Director of Youth Education position, please see the job description and qualifications here!