The Whole Schools Initiative

Summer Institute

General Information

Each summer, WSI offers an annual professional development opportunity open to any teacher (pre-k through 12th grade and pre-service, self-contained SPED and arts specialist), artist, school administrator, parent and community arts supporter to learn how to integrate the arts into the core curriculum. These workshops and arts experiences allow attendees to engage with presenters from across Mississippi and throughout the nation. This annual professional development opportunity is open to any teacher (pre-k through 12th grade & pre-service, self-contained SPED and arts specialist), artist, school administrator, parent and community arts supporter to learn how to integrate the arts into the core curriculum. 

Summer Institute Flyer

Don't miss The Magic of Magic with Kevin Spencer, Jeanne Gillespie and Steve Barney at the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center. Click here for more information.

Need CEU's?  The following choices will be available:

6 hours = .6        $15.00

10 hours = 1.0   $15.00

15 hours =1.5    $20.00

20 hours = 2.0   $25.00

25 hours =2.5    $28.00

Daily signatures are required for each session.


The 2017 Whole Schools initiative will be held June 13th through the 16th at the MS Gulf Coast Community College - Jefferson Davis Campus  This four day conference will bring together educators, artists, community members and parents for over 180 hours of high quality professional development opportunities from local and national presenters.  The Mississippi Gulf Coast is always celebrating something - whether it's blues, jazz or the newest opportunity to savor Gulf-to-table seafood.  Come experience the charm and hospitality of the coast while improving your skills, knowledge, and awareness of arts integration.

As you make travel arrangements, please note that registration is Monday afternoon, from 3:00-5:00pm or Tuesday morning beginning at 8:00am The first session begins at 9:00am.   The institute will end on Friday, June 16th, at noon, following the Closing Ceremonies. Please plan to stay until that time.

On-site registration will begin, June 12th at 3:00pm in the Hotel and Resort Management Center, 420 Debuys Road, Biloxi, MS  39531.


Monday, June 12:  3:00-5:00pm, Registration
Monday, June 12:  6:30-8:30pm, "The Magic of Magic", Ticketed Event
Tuesday, June 13: 8:00-9:00, Registration
Tuesday, June 13, 9:00-4:00; Key-Note Address, Curriculum Tracks and Break-out sessions
Wednesday, June 14,  9:00-4:30; Curriculum Tracks, Break-out sessions, and Excursions
Thursday, June 15, 9:00-4:30; Curriculum Tracks, Break-out sessions, and Excursions
Thursday, June 15, 7:00-9:00pm; Ticketed Event
Friday, June 16, 9:00-12; Key-Note Address, Break-out sessions, Team Meetings

Curriculum Tracks for WSI Summer Institute:  2017

Grades: All, BACK TO BASICS, Penny Mack; All great things are built on strong foundations!  Build a stronger foundation or fill in some cracks with a series of 101 tracks. Designed for the novice arts integration instructor, this session will end the confusion between instruction, enhancement and integration once and for all.  Over the course of this three day track, participants will thoroughly explore the basic elements and principles of design within Visual Arts, Theatre, Dance, and Music.

Grades: Pre-K - 1, VISUAL ART and the EARLY CHILD - Kay Thomas; Early childhood educators constantly emphasize the importance of a variety of sensory experiences in the development of the young child, yet teachers often feel overwhelmed and nervous about introducing unusual art materials or messy materials in the classroom with this age group.  This track will allow teachers a safe space to experiment with a variety of 2D and 3D art materials while learning how to organize and present them in their classrooms.

Grades: Pre-K - 2, DANCING in the CLASSROOM - Mary Frances Massey; Educators alike will agree that getting our students to stay still and focused is one of the most difficult challenges. But what if we challenged them to move and memorize? Dance and decipher? In this track you’ll see examples of combining movement with core curriculum and memory skills and bring books to life with movement and narration.

Grades: 2-3, An ARTISTIC SCIENCE:  DESIGNING DEEPER LEARNING through THEATER and SCIENCE - Sean Glazebrook; In this fast-paced, practice-oriented workshop series, participants will dive headfirst into the process of designing and executing science and theater-integrated lessons for 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms. Drawing on cutting edge concepts in dispositional practices, cognitive-developmental science, and design thinking, teachers will practice how to draw meaningful connections between the disciplines of science and theater so that students become more deeply engaged and invested in building their own knowledge. Participants will leave this workshop series prepared to begin immediately implementing their newfound learning into their teaching practice.

Grades: 3-6,  PLAYWRITING in the LANGUAGE ARTS and SOCIAL STUDIES CLASSROOM - Jennifer Unger; Bring content ALIVE in the classroom with playwriting.  Teachers will learn how to guide students through the playwriting process of writing, revising and performing.  Curriculum-based scripts may be used for Project-Based Learning or to perform for classmates and parents.

Grades: 3-5, MEANINGFUL MUSIC MAKING - Thom Borden; Using children's literature, poetry and rhymes and poems, participants will explore and experience many different elemental music concepts through play and manipulative activities.  Participants will sing their way through many children's books that are favorites and new titles that will become classroom picks.

Grades: 6-8, CONFLICT MANAGEMENT THROUGH DRAMA - Zeb Hollins; Many sources of conflict (interpersonal and societal) will never be fully resolved, but they can be managed. Drama techniques allow students to distance themselves from actual conflicts while fostering meaningful investment in managing positive outcomes and building resiliency. Participants will learn how to construct a drama in education workshop that focuses on fictional, non-fictional conflicts. They will also learn how to facilitate creative dramatic strategies (i.e. tableau, pantomime, improvisation and role play) to explore the tension and potential between individuals.  Participants will receive guidance in brainstorming and defining conflict, types of conflict and effective conflict management skills. By the end of the workshop, participants will make connections between conflict and anger management by identifying anger triggers, behavior responses and consequences while also connecting leadership qualities to group dynamics and cooperative learning.

Grades: 6-8, DEVELOPING PERSONAL and ACADEMIC LITERACY, VOICE and PERSPECTIVE through MINDFULNESS and DANCE-MAKING PRACTICES - Julie White; Participants will learn the A (Attention), B (Balance), and C's (compassion) of mindfulness as well as how to integrate these in the K-12 classroom to promote and support the development of voice, focus, reflection, and analysis in the learning process.  Participants will specifically learn how to apply these instructional techniques to ELA standards that center on telling stories, reading written texts for comprehension, analysis, and comparison, and defining one's own voice/perspective as a writer.  Parallels between written compositions and dance compositions and the inherent intersections that can inform artful instruction will guide this process.  Supporting materials, including narrative rubrics that provide formative and summative feedback and evaluation, will be included so that information can be immediately integrated into instruction in one's own classroom.



Kay Thomas, visual artist, received an M.F.A. in ceramics from Arizona State University and a B.F.A. degree in ceramics from Texas A & M University-Commerce, Texas. A teaching artist with over thirty years of experience, Thomas has worked with students and teachers grades Pre K through university level throughout a multi-state. In addition, she is a designer and presenter of a variety of art workshops in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and for the Pennsylvania Commission on the Arts. These training institutes emphasize the value of the artistic inquiry process in developing new classroom teaching strategies and higher order thinking skills. In May of this year Thomas developed and presented a sculpture workshop for teachers at the Kennedy Center titled, “The Art of History: Creating Memorials for Historic Figures and Events.” Currently, Thomas is the Visual Arts Teaching Artist for the Arts Smart Institute for Learning. She continues to create her ceramic sculptures which simultaneously celebrate and satirize in a very humorous way America’s obsession with celebrities, politicians, food and pets.

Julie White received her BFA in Performance from the University of Illinois, and her MFA in Choreography along with her K-12 Ohio Teaching Licensure from The Ohio State University.  She is an Associate Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi and Director of Dance Education.   She instructs dance education curriculum, ballet and modern techniques, directs student performance companies, coordinates departmental educational outreach work, and supervises licensure candidates in the K-12 schools.  Previous to her tenure at USM, White established and directed a Middle and High School dance education program in the Dayton Public Schools (Ohio) for eight years.  She also helped to write the revised K-12 Ohio Standards for Dance Education.  She has repeatedly been an invited presenter at the American College Dance Festival, National Dance Education Organization National Conference, Gifted Child State Conference, Mississippi Arts Commission and Whole Schools Initiative Summer Intensives and has worked extensively as an artist-in-residence in K12 schools throughout the Gulf South.  White is a dedicated advocate for the importance of movement in learning and the essential inclusion of artful instruction in education.  She has done ongoing and significant work in developing effective assessment practices in the arts (her work has been published in the Journal of Dance Education) as well as creating both interdisciplinary and standards-based dance education curriculum for both K12 and collegiate dance programs.  In 2013, White was awarded the Southern Miss College of Arts & Letters “Teacher of the Year Award” and the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education “Excellence in Higher Education Award” for her contributions to, and accomplishments in, arts education.  

Jennifer Unger is a professional teaching artist and theatre director.  She serves as the Education Director for Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council.  She is a consultant with Focus 5, Inc., a national arts integration consulting company based in Washington, D.C.

As a director, Ms. Unger has directed and written productions for both adult and young audiences.  She has also served as adjunct faculty for graduate and undergraduate classes at Texas A&M University-Texarkana, and is an adjudicator for UIL One-Act Play contests. 

She earned a Master of Arts in Theatre from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. With positions at The Shelton School (a private school for children with learning differences in Dallas, Texas), Capers for Kids, and the Dallas Theatre Center, Ms. Unger has instructed and directed all ages.  

With over 20 years of experience in the field of arts education and arts integration, she brings knowledge of the arts, diverse student populations and curriculum together in an engaging and meaningful way.

Mary Frances Massey graduated in Commercial Entertainment and Dance Pedagogy from Columbia State Community College in Franklin, TN. She began her performance career in 2006 with Royal Caribbean Cruise lines and Matt Davenport Productions as a lead vocalist and dancer. She also works in the recording industry as a background vocalist. She released her first album in 2015, "Movin' On", to budding reviews. Massey is a dance instructor and part-owner of North Mississippi Dance Centre in Tupelo, MS. As a Tupelo Native, she is heavily involved in many of the arts organizations and serves on several boards. She's an Arts Integration Specialist with the Tupelo Public School District and an Artist in Residency at King Early Childhood Education Center. Mary Frances offers dance classes in ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop and has choreographed for the show choirs in Tupelo since 2008. She offers programs in “Narration and Movement”, Putting movement to your favorite children’s books (Pre-k-2) and “Movement, Memory and Core Curriculum”, using movement in the classroom to teach core classes (K-2). Mary Frances is pleased to be a part of WSI's Summer Institute! You can find more information on Mary Frances at

Zeb Hollins III studied Speech/Theatre at Southern University and worked and studied Educational Theatre with New York University’s Creative Arts Team as a Master Actor/Teacher for six years.  While in New York, he performed in numerous productions at The Billie Holiday Theatre, The Negro Ensemble Company, and Woodie King’s New Federal Theatre.  He conducted violence prevention and arts in education workshops throughout NYC public schools with The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, and The Leadership Program Inc.  He has performed with several New Orleans arts organizations including The NOLA Project’s A Truckload of Ink, Southern Rep’s Colossal, Goat in the Road Productions’ This Sweaty City, Bayou Playhouse’s Katrina: Mother-In-Law of ‘em All, LePetit’s High Priestess of Dark Alley, and Anthony Bean’s Jungle Kings.  He recently completed Visible Thinking, Programs in Professional Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education.  Currently, Zeb is an Arts Integration Coach/Teaching Artist with KID smART in New Orleans, LA. 

Jeanne Gillespie is Professor of Spanish and Co-Director of the Center for American Indian Research and Studies at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Her current research investigates the documentation of plant materials and healing practices in indigenous Mexican documents, especially poetic and dramatic texts.

Gillespie is the author of Saints and Warriors: Tlaxcalan Perspectives on the Conquest of Tenochtitlan (2004) and is co-editor of Women’s Voices and the Politics of the Spanish Empire (2009). She served as guest editor of the South Summer 2014 Southern Quarterly issue “And We are Still Here.” This volume collects essays examining the history, archaeology, cultural heritage, and artistic contributions of indigenous communities in the Coastal Gulf region. Gillespie exhibits a passion for finding fascinating stories and rendering them into accessible narratives for reflection and further investigation.  

Penny Mack has served as a contract Arts Consultant, Advisor, and Mentor for the Mississippi Arts Commission for the last three years.  Until June of 2014, she was the Curriculum Coordinator, Co-Project Director, and upper elementary math teacher at St. Anthony Catholic School in Madison, Mississippi.  Penny has been involved in either teaching or working in an administrative leadership role for more than sixteen years in both public and parochial school settings.  As an administrator, she met daily with team-specific groups to plan, problem solve, and enrich units of study.  Over the past ten years, Penny has presented curriculum-wide daily lessons and workshops to students and teachers utilizing arts integration techniques created to support rigorous expectations in every curriculum.   

Sean Glazebrook is Director of the Arts | K-12 for Lusher Charter School in New Orleans. He oversees eleven different conservatory programs stretching across six different arts departments and three schools, as well as a K-12 arts-integration effort designed to build interdisciplinary, conceptually-based connections between the arts and academic subjects at each grade level.  Sean is an arts-integration curriculum specialist, instructional coach, and professional development designer/facilitator.  As an educational consultant he has worked with organizations worldwide.

Sean was a founding member of and first Education Director for the NOLA Project, a New Orleans-based theatre company focused on producing original work and engaging new audiences. Sean has worked as a graduate research assistant at Harvard’s Project Zero with Ron Ritchhart (author of Making Thinking Visible) on the Learning to Think, Thinking to Learn project.  Sean holds a BFA in Theatre and History from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, a Certificate in Shakespeare in Performance from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and an Ed.M. in Education Policy & Management from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.  He is a recipient of the Harvard Impact Award, the Progressive Educational Fellowship through Harlem Village Academies, and the ALT Fellowship through the Center for Asia Leadership Initiatives.

Kevin Spencer is an Educator, Researcher, Speaker, Writer, Film Producer and world-renowned Performer with dozens of accolades to his credit. He believes strongly in the power of the arts to impact the quality of people’s lives. He is a leading authority on the academic and functional benefits of arts integrated interventions for special learners. He is actively engaged in research, has published in learning peer-reviewed education journals, and provides professional development to educators internationally. He holds a Certificate in Autism Studies and in Fall 2015 will teach a graduate course in Arts for Special Populations at Carlow University (PA).

Thom Borden has a B.S. in Music Education and an M.A. in Education with a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction focused in Reading.  He completed Orff Levels at UNLV and an Orff Master Level at the University of Memphis under Jos Wytac.  He completed advance Orff studies in music and movement in Paris.  Further studies include Kodaly training from Colorado State University and certification through Silver Lake College with Sr. Lorna Zemke.  He is past-president of the Greater Chicago Orff Chapter and has presented at numerous AOSA, ECMMA and OAKE Conferences in the U.S.  He has presented in Australia, Canada, and China and presents at Orff and Kodaly chapters across the United States each year.  He spoke at the 2008 and 2010 International Early Childhood Music and Movement Conference and served on the Early Childhood Music and Movement Board of Directors.  Currently teaching PreK-5 in Las Vegas, Thom served as the AOSA Diversity Committee Chair and has published Orff arrangements in the McGraw-Hill series, Spotlight on Music and Music Studio.  He has published several books and materials on using manipulatives in the music classroom and using children's literature to address music concepts and skills.


 Conference Hotel

When making reservations mention MAC or WSI Summer Institute.  Rooms have been blocked for June 12-16, 2017.

If paying by check, the hotel must receive the check at least two weeks prior to check-in.  Tax exempt information must be sent in with checks.

Doubletree by Hilton $125 (plus applicable taxes)

940 Beach Blvd

Biloxi, MS 39530

(228) 546-3100

Click Here for Hotel Reservations

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