Making the Arts Special - For Special Needs Students - Every Child, Every Art

Session 5: Grades K-6

Through foundational roots of learning, the arts strengthen children with special needs and increase the quality of life for every child. See examples of ways the arts give these students a unique chance to express themselves in ways they don't get any other time in their day. Learn how the arts can help develop motor skills, social skills, attention, auditory processing, and cognitive function in your own students. Through the lens of the arts you can see your students in a new light.

purdyKatie Steed

Katie Edna Steed is an Associate Clinical Professor at Brigham Young University in the department of Counseling Psychology and Special Education. Her area of expertise is in children with severe disabilities, including mental retardation, traumatic brain injury and Autism. She teaches the methods and practicum courses at BYU for students who would like to become licensed Special Educators with a Severe Endorsement. Prior to coming to BYU as a professor, Katie taught in the public schools both as a general educator for one year and as a special educator for three. During this time she completed her Masters of Science in Special Education. Her thesis is entitled: Instructing teachers of children with disabilities within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is passionate about this topic and has presented at several churches over the past serveral years on how to best instruct their primary age children with special needs. Katie and her husband, Marc Steed, are Technical Specialists for LDS Charities and have traveled to Albania and Guyana where they conduct training for professionals in the fields of medicine and education on how to work with children with special needs. Katie and her family returned in August 2015 from a 14 week BYU Study Abroad program in China where she directed a group of students who were completing their student teaching experience.

purdyJennifer Purdy

Jennifer Purdy has been a music educator for over 30 years and believes it's the happiest job in the world. She has endorsements in Kodaly and Orff and currently teaches music at Highland Park Elementary in Salt Lake School District. In April 2014 she was named the district's Outstanding Arts and Education Educator of the Year. She also works as a professional development partner (PDP) for BYU in their ARTS Partnership program and in the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program where she specializes in music curriculum development and integration with classroom core subjects. For the last seven years Jen has been a composer-consultant for Utah Opera Company and writes original operas with elementary school children. Jennifer loves jazz, plays the piano in a swing band, and is passionate about advocating for elementary school arts programs.

Chris Roberts

Chris has taught children and adults for 34 years. He received his bachelor of science degree in elementary education and special education and a master’s degree in educational psychology (gifted and talented) from Brigham Young University. He has been teaching dance (along with everything else) to children every day for the past 14 years. Chris has taught dance workshops for the Utah State Office of Education and has co-taught with Marilyn Berrett in Brazil at the daCi World Conference. Chris was a keynote presenter at the Fall Networking Arts Conference in Ogden, Utah, and was a co-presenter in a panel and lecture demonstration (with Marilyn Berrett and Julie Ahlander) at the 2003 National Dance Education Organization conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He also co-presented a paper (with Marilyn Berrett) at the 2006 NDEO conference in Long Beach, California. Chris is a proud graduate of Anne Green Gilbert's Summer Dance Institute in Seattle, Washington. He loves giving children the opportunity to express their creativity through dance. In 2012, Chris received the Governor's Leadership in the Arts Award for Educational Leadership.

Cindy ClarkCindy Clark

Cindy L. Clark loves teaching, creating, learning, reading, hiking, and being a gramma. She has been recognized as outstanding art educator for Utah, received the Arthur Watkins award as educator of the year, received a national endowment for the arts scholarship, and been selected for many other awards. She has been arts specialist for Alpine School District, where she worked with elementary schools, including their principals, to integrate dance, drama, music, and visual arts into classrooms.

A veteran teacher, she taught advanced placement art at Orem High for 23 years and junior high art as well.  She has been an adjunct professor at UVU and BYU and also  a student teaching supervisor. In addition, she works with the Beverly Taylor Sorenson arts program at BYU.  

caitlin cottenCaitlin Cotten

Caitlin Cotten is from Oklahoma and graduated in Theatre Education from Brigham Young University. After interning as a drama teacher at Willowcreek Middle School, Caitlin began teaching at Clear Horizons Academy, a school for students who have Autism Spectrum disorder. She has been using drama to teach students on the spectrum ever since, currently working at Utah Autism Academy as an arts specialist and staff support. She also teaches pre-service elementary teachers how to use drama as a teaching tool in their classrooms at Brigham Young University.