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The Project Design Lab

Collaborative & Creative  Planning & Learning 


Now more than ever, creative engagement—making things together that we care about—can play a vital role at the center of learning, whether remotely or in-person.


This is a watershed moment for our communities. Now is the time for everyone—young and old—to join together in the solution making.


The Project Design Lab offers teachers everything they need to implement creative projects that bring everyone together to reflect on where we’ve been, and to take new steps to envision and co-create the Vermont we want and need.


"This has been the best professional development in my 27-year teaching career."

Photo: Ember Photography

How Does It Work?

1. Your project team must include at least three teachers, staff, or administrators. Students are encouraged to join in.


2. Your team will have a choice of six creative projects  developed by a team of leading Vermont practitioners.

Once you select your project, a teaching artist will be assigned to your team.


3. At the Project Design Lab, your school team will work remotely with a professional teaching artist and national leaders in project-based learning, community engagement, and creativity to customize your chosen project to meet the needs of your school and community.  

The projects are designed to bring the school and community together in common creative purpose. 

4. Your team and teaching artist will implement your project in the fall, with remote and outdoor activities, including a culminating event in your community.

5. Reflect, learn and plan for more project-based learning that is creative, joyful and engaging.

Read the Project Summaries HERE.


All Design Lab sessions will be via ZOOM. 


“This is a game changer."

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Time Line


  • Three, 3-hr. sessions over four days with the Lab’s teaching artists and faculty, plus six hours asynchronous planning time with your team and teaching artist, to customize your project and implementation plan. 

  • You can select projects that feature visual art, dance, theater, music, photography/digital media, puppetry, multi-media, poetry or a combination of arts disciplines. VIEW PROJECTS HERE

  • “On-the-ground” support from Community Engagement Lab staff to develop community partners for your project.



  • Fifteen hours of support from your teaching artist—remotely and in the community—to help lead the art making that will be at the heart of your project, and to co-teach with your team.

  • “On-the-ground” support from Community Engagement Lab staff  to engage your community partners.

  • PR/media and production support for your project to generate community involvement in its culminating event, which will be a combination of virtual and outdoor experiences.



  • Six hours — synchronous & asynchronous — with your teaching artist and the Design Lab faculty to reflect on your project’s success, and how to keep creative project-based learning growing in your school and community. 

*Teams must consist of three or more teachers/staff.


Students are encouraged attend the Design Lab sessions (for free) with a team from their school.

Photo: CODAworx

What To Expect
The Project Design Lab is an experience in collaborative and creative planning and learning.

Take Action on Racial Justice and 

Climate Change

  • Projects are designed to inspire students, educators, and community members to reflect, listen to each other, and leverage their collective creativity to envision and act on building a better future.

Foundations of Creative Learning

  • Develop authentic ways to model creative learning tools in your classroom; these creative tools can be used in all subject areas. 


Teaching & Assessing Transferable Skills

  • Strengthen your understanding of the skills inside the creative process and techniques for teaching and assessing your students’ creative capacities. 

UbD - Understanding by Design

  • Use your project’s essential question to shape the enduring understandings you want for your students.

Project-Based Learning 

  • Expand your best practices in project design, backward design, authentic reflection, and scaffolding skills with national leaders in the fields of project- and inquiry-based learning. 

Creative Capacity Guide COVER.jpg
The Creative Capacity booklet will be a key resource at the Design Lab. Click to view.
PDL cover.jpg
Download the Project Design Lab flyer, with the project templates.

Barbara Schaffer Bacon

Barbara Schaffer Bacon co-directs Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts that inspires, informs, promotes, and connects arts and culture as potent contributors to community, civic, and social change.  Barbara has written, edited, and contributed to many publications including Civic Dialogue, Arts & Culture: Findings from Animating Democracy; Case Studies from Animating Democracy; Animating Democracy: The Artistic Imagination as a Force for Civic Dialogue. She has delivered presentations and workshops nationally and internationally in Canada, Australia, and England. She is president of the Arts Extension Institute, Inc., and has served for 14 years on the Belchertown, MA school committee.  She was recently appointed by the Governor Deval Patrick to serve as a member of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Eric Booth

Design Lab Co-Director

Eric is widely referred to as one of the nation’s best teachers of creativity, and the father of the teaching artist profession. In 2015 he was awarded the nation's highest honor for an arts educator (the Arts Education Leadership Award by Americans For The Arts), and was named one of the 25 most important people in the U.S. arts. In arts learning, he has taught at Juilliard (13 years), Stanford University, NYU, Tanglewood and Lincoln Center Institute (35 years), and The Kennedy Center (12 years). He is the founder and co-designer of the International Teaching Artist Conferences, the recipient of the first honorary doctorate in teaching artistry (New England Conservatory), and was the keynote speaker at UNESCO's first world arts education conference. More about Eric.

Paul Gambill

Design Lab Co-Director

Paul has 30 years experience as a non-profit administrator, educator and musician, specializing in helping schools and communities re-imagine how to strengthen their partnerships through creative projects. He began his career as a public school music teacher in Minnesota, and soon turned to arts administration and conducting. His innovative school residency projects have been GRAMMY nominated and won three national awards for children's media, including the Parents’ Choice Foundation Gold Award. Before relocating with his family to Vermont in 2009, he was founder and music director of Orchestra Nashville for 20 years, and music director of the Nashville Ballet for six years.

Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf

Dennie Palmer Wolf, Principal Researcher at WolfBrown, is one of the leading arts education researchers and evaluators in the United States. She holds a doctorate from Harvard where she served as a researcher at Project Zero for more than a decade and then headed Harvard PACE, an initiative linking schools and external partners in new approaches to assessing student learning.  She led studies on the early development of artistic and symbolic capacities and later focused on design, implementation, and evaluation strategies that help cultural organizations and communities examine and improve how people gain access to learning, culture, and creativity both in and outside of formal institutions. Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for Arts, the U.S. Department of Education, the Buck, Arnold, Carnegie, Mellon, Spencer, and William Penn foundations, and has appeared in numerous peer-reviewed journals and books.

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