When asked to describe Milton School District art teacher Devon Calvert, Sarah Stuckey returns to the same word again and again: leader.
“There’s a mark of a strong leader when he could just lead amongst his art department and other art teachers, which he certainly does, but he takes what he knows and he just shines when he’s helping others. He’s just a great teacher and a great leader,” said Stuckey, who is the principal at Consolidated Elementary School.
Calvert’s leadership qualities have gotten national notice. He recently was chosen as the director-elect of the elementary division for the National Art Education Association.
The association is an art teacher organization that provides resources such as grants and scholarships as well as a yearly convention and outreach community to help teach students. All art teachers can be members.
“They’re just kind of like the big figurehead that represents our teachers at the national level,” Calvert said.
Each state has its own art education association, and Calvert currently serves as Wisconsin’s elementary art education director. When he was named the national director for the elementary division, he said it took a minute for him to process.
“I was pretty psyched to say the least,” he said.
Some of his new responsibilities include finding regional directors, organizing the association’s annual convention, and selecting presentations and resources to share with art teachers.
Calvert said his new job is a unique one, and he hopes to be a sounding board for art teachers across the country.
“Most art teachers kind of are on an island within their district,” he said. “They’re the only ones in their buildings; they’re the only ones going through those experiences. Classroom teachers don’t always have the same hurdles that elementary art teachers, music teachers and phys ed teachers have.
“So I kind of view my role as being there to support elementary art educators, and make sure that they’re not alone on their island, and provide them with whatever it is that they need.”
Calvert has wanted to teach since middle school, but he originally pictured himself teaching social studies. After getting hooked on art in his later high school years, that creative side drew him to art education.
In a normal year, Calvert teaches art at both Consolidated and Harmony elementary schools.
This year, he is even busier. He currently teaches all district third-graders virtually, preparing a video lesson for them each week for their teachers to facilitate. But because Consolidated Elementary is smaller than other schools, Calvert teaches in person there, leading art lessons for kindergarten through third grade and also helping out with physical education and music classes.
“I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades this year,” he said.
Stuckey said Calvert’s willingness to wear different hats in an atypical year has set him apart.
”He really adapted beautifully to that new responsibility,” she said. “And really, since the planning kind of came together quickly, he didn’t even have a lot of notice on that. But his ability to be so collaborative and so open-minded has really helped him in that role.”
Stuckey said Calvert also took the lead when the district had to pivot to virtual learning last year amid COVID-19. He helped other teachers use the technology and post video lectures, she said.
“He’s a trailblazer when it comes to technology. I think that we would have been lost without him for both Harmony and Consolidated when it came to the need to switch to virtual learning,” Stuckey said.
She also pointed to Calvert’s ability to bring families into the fold. Calvert posts student artwork and updates to social media so parents can get involved, and he has set up a website that helps parents get their child’s artwork made into memorabilia, such as coffee mugs.
Although his new responsibilities will consume some free time and might open other opportunities, Calvert said he doesn’t plan to leave the district where he has worked for six years.
“That’s what people keep saying is, ‘You’re on to bigger and better things.’ But I love it here. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.”