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Teaching Artist Handbook Authors


Becca Barniskis works as a teaching artist of poetry and as a free-lance writer and consultant in arts education for a range of schools, arts organizations and public agencies across the upper Midwest. She specializes in developing and facilitating peer-to-peer professional development opportunities for teaching artists and educators, including helping launch and develop Artist to Artist, a growing network of artists and educators who meet regularly to develop and share their teaching practice. She also edits the Resource Exchange section of the Teaching Artist Journal.

Becca has a BA in History with minors in French and Chinese from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon. She has taught writing and poetry to students ranging in age from pre-Kindergarten to undergraduates. In addition to reading and performing her work for live audiences, her poetry has appeared in many journals among them: Mid-American Review, burntdistrict, Conduit, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird and the Northwest Review.


Barbara Hackett Cox is Arts Education Partnership Coordinator for the Perpich Center for Arts Education (PCAE), a Minnesota state agency. She has been working in this capacity since 1998. She has a BA in Humanities/Fine Arts from San Francisco State University and received her teaching license through the Masters Program in Media & Technology at California State University Los Angeles. Since then she has worked as classroom teacher and arts coordinator (she started in 1977 in Los Angeles and Oakland, CA) and eventually merged her teaching and jazz broadcasting experiences to create a curriculum-based jazz history program that brought in jazz musicians as teaching artists to provide the authentic voice of jazz in the classroom setting. In addition to taking “Jazz in the Classroom” national for various arts agencies, organizations and schools around the United States, she also worked with New York City programs, arts organizations, schools and senior centers coordinating collaborations between teaching artists, teachers, and administrators in an intergenerational program focused on social studies, visual art and theater. 

Barbara has worked alongside and mentored teaching artists in different ways over the course of her tenure at PCAE. She was originally hired by a program that was created by Twin Cities’ arts organizations (it was named Partners: Arts and Schools for Students, or the PASS program) with three different school districts. She was there to transition PASS into a state agency structure. It evolved into K-12 statewide network that included independent teaching artists or ones hired or affiliated with an arts organization.  Over the past 14 years she has created and supported new networks to promote professional development of teaching artists, specifically Artist to Artist, which is a mix of independent artists and organizations that work in K-12 settings. She also helped launch and develop Artful Online, an online professional development resource for artists and educators.

In her position as arts education partnership coordinator Barbara has continually emphasized developing multicultural resources. Her efforts have resulted in the development of the Multicultural Voices Initiative (MCV), a unique and growing network of artists, educators, skilled facilitators and print and electronic resources to help people uncover their own assumptions about race and raise questions about multicultural issues. With MCV, Barbara has been able to offer arts integration and multicultural education resources to a range of people and organizations with a particular emphasis on raising awareness of hidden racial bias and negative cultural stereotypes within program structures and curriculum. Barbara is a member of the Editorial Board at the Teaching Artist Journal and with Becca helps coordinate the ongoing design team meetings of the Resource Exchange section of the journal.


Nick Jaffe is a teaching artist, curriculum designer, writer, musician, audio engineer, an Illinois certified K-8 teacher and the Chief Editor of The Teaching Artist Journal, a print and online quarterly published by Routledge and edited under the auspices of Columbia College Chicago.  As a teaching artist Nick’s focus has been the development of student-run recording studios in elementary schools.  Nick has worked as a teaching artist in a wide variety of in-school and other contexts.  He has also designed and implemented programming, curriculum and professional development for Urban Gateways, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE), Columbia College Chicago, Marwen Foundation and a variety of other schools and organizations.  Nick’s teaching artist expertise is in music and technology integration, and collaborative assessment and evaluation of teaching, curriculum and programs.

Nick received a BA in History from Yale University and an MS in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University.  Nick has taught a wide variety of subjects to people of all ages, including English as a Second Language, Judo, and Aircraft Maintenance.  He spent 10 years working as an aircraft mechanic and avionics instructor for a number of major U.S. and International airlines.

Nick is also the guitarist for the Soul People, H2O Soul, Super Moon, and 727 Generator, and has performed with a wide variety of artists including Common, Ice Cube, Bobby Brown, Estelle, Bilal, Jaguar Wright, Renee Neufville, Dwele and Syleena Johnson.  Nick’s studio credits include national TV campaigns for Kraft, and sessions as a guitarist and producer for many local and national and international hip hop, soul and r&b artists.  Nick’s recent solo album Sputnik 1 is a musical history of the first artificial satellite.