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July 10-14, 2023

Burlington, Vermont

How can activating the creativity of my students build the foundations of well-being for a more inclusive, joyful and caring learning environment?

The 2023 Project Design Lab helps you strengthen the well-being of your students and school community, and your personal well-being.

Making Things We Care About
At the Project Design Lab you will collaborate with a teaching artist to design a project that uses creative engagement – making things we care about – as a powerful tool for meaning-making, relationship building, and understanding who we are; these are vital components of individual and community well-being. 

​Creative engagement can bridge differences, build collective agency, imagine new approaches, inspire joyfulness, and reflect individual and community identity.

Visit the FAQ page:

Individual or Team Participation   Tuition & Fees   Daily Schedule   Teaching Artist Selection | Lodging & Meals


DESIGN a high-engagement creative project with an experienced teaching artist; a project that strengthens the well-being of your students and school community.

BUILD a toolkit of short-and-easy activities that spark your students' creativity and foster a resilient foundation of well-being in your classroom and school.

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Winooski Middle School students explored how connecting to the landscape helped them connect with themselves and each other.

Gowri Savoor, visual teaching artist


Danville School created an original puppet show for all K-12 students to explore their essential question:

Where does "Me" end and "We" begin? 

Barbara Paulson, puppet teaching artist

ALIGN your project to support well-being initiatives in your school, such the CASEL social-emotional learning framework, or Portrait of a Graduate. 

CUSTOMIZE your Project Design Lab experience with three registration options providing different levels of support. 

LEARN alongside leaders in creative engagement, trauma-informed teaching, well-being, and project-based learning. 

NURTURE your own well-being; re-connect with your creative self; and have fun—guaranteed.

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

"This is a game changer."


How Does It Work?

1.  Register individually or as a team: JAN-MAY

Attend on your own or as a team. Teams comprise two or more teachers, staff, or administrators, and may be from the same school or different schools in your district. 

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2.  Plan at the Project Design Lab: JUL 10-14

You will work with a teaching artist and leaders in creative engagement, trauma-informed teaching, well-being, and project-based learning to design a project that fits your needs and goals. 


3.   Implement Your Project: SEP-MAY

Your team will co-lead with a teaching artist the implementation of your project during a multi-day teaching artist residency. If participating as in individual, you will receive four hours of coaching support from a teaching artist for implementing your project.

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4.  Celebrate Your Project

Your project's culminating event will be a public celebration of the creative work and learning developed in the project. 

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5.  Reflect On Your Project

Reflect with your students on the successes, challenges and impact of our work together, and plan next steps for continuing your well-being journey. 

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Visit the FAQ page for more info:

Team or Individual Participation   Tuition & Fees   Daily Schedule   Teaching Artist Selection  | Lodging & Meals

Visit the Project Snapshots page for more examples of projects developed at the Project Design Lab.

Registration Options
2023 Project Design Lab

July 10-14 / 9:00am - 4:00pm

University of Vermont / Burlington


There are two registration options with tuition ranging from $1,800 for 46 hours re-certification credits, or $2,000 for three graduate credits.

Tuition includes a private air-conditioned dorm room with centrally located individual bath at the University of Vermont on July 10-14, breakfast and lunch. Everyone is on their own for dinner in Burlington. 

UVM requires all participants in on-campus activities to be fully vaccinated. Masks are optional. 


Registration Opens in January 2023

Additional details and the registration form will be available in January. Subscribe to our mailing list below to keep up on PDL announcements.


Visit the PDL FAQ page for answers to questions about individual or team participation, tuition & fees, lodging & meals, daily schedule, teaching artist selection, and more.


Contact Community Engagement Lab Executive Director:

Paul Gambill(802) 595-0087

Accrediting institution

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We invite you to let us know about specific accommodations you may need to participate in the Project Design Lab. We will make every effort to honor your request. 


Contact: Paul Gambill or (802) 595-0087

How Doe It Work
Registration Optons
  2022 Faculty  
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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. Additionally, she contributes to Local Arts Advancement work at Americans for the Arts. A consultant in program design and evaluation, Barbara serves as an adviser for state and national arts agencies and private foundations. Barbara previously served as executive director of the Arts Extension Service at the University of Massachusetts. She is president of the Arts Extension Institute, Inc. and a board member for WomenArts. Barbara served for 14 years on the Belchertown, MA School Committee.  In 2018, Barbara received the Robert E. Gard Foundation Leadership Award. She currently serves as a member of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Barbara has contributed to many publications including Trend or Tipping Point: Arts & Social Change Grantmaking; Civic Dialogue, Arts & Culture: Findings from Animating Democracy; Case Studies from Animating Democracy; Animating Democracy: The Artistic Imagination as a Force for Civic Dialogue; Fundamentals of Local Arts Management; and The Cultural Planning Work Kit.

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ERIC BOOTH (he/him)

Eric is widely referred to as one of the nation’s best teachers of creativity, and the father of the teaching artist profession. He is CEL's co-founder and Engagement Director. 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.

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Ashley is a teaching artist, dance educator and choreographer whose work investigates how movement creates a more aware, engaged, and connected community. She has received multiple grants for her work in public schools and community sites and is a Juried Teaching Artist through the Vermont Arts Council. Projects include teacher trainings, school residencies, dance in libraries, restorative justice and correctional facilities programs as well as community-inspired and inclusive original productions. She received her Ed.M from Harvard Graduate School of Education and teaches at the Dance Factory in Springfield, Vermont.

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Pete is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 25 years of experience practicing in Vermont. Throughout his career Pete has worked with children, youth and families impacted by complex trauma. He spent the first 15 years working in residential treatment programs, where he ran wilderness based therapy programs, directed an intensive residential treatment center, and provided individual, group and family therapy.  He spent five years working in an outpatient setting, providing attachment oriented family therapy, conducting trauma evaluations, and offering training and consultation to schools, mental health agencies, and the VT Family Services Division.  For the last five years Pete has been a training and coaching specialist with the University of Vermont Child Welfare Training Partnership.

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Susan brings with her years of experience helping educators enact student-centered pedagogies in Vermont. In addition to her work as Creative Education Director for CEL, she serves as the program lead and teaches courses in UVM's Educational Technology Online sequence, and co-directs UVM's Learning Lab, a network for educators to engage in action research with their students. Through her work as a district-wide technology integration coach and ten year experience as a professional development coordinator at the Tarrant Institute of Innovative Education at UVM, Susan designs professional development experiences that model best practices in teaching and assessment. She worked at Harwood Union High School as the English department chair as well as the Library Media Specialist. In 2007, she won the Milken Educator Award for Vermont. 

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SARAH LOWRY, MA (she/her)

Sometimes getting to the root of an issue may be hard by just talking. So much of our experience comes in through our feelings, our sensations, our bodies, and the nonverbal ways that we locate safety and connection to others.  As a Drama Therapist, in addition to talking, Lowry will invite you to use art, movement, drama, metaphor and play in our sessions so you can process and explore even the things that are most difficult to talk about.  So… be prepared to be silly, to make a mess, and to make some noise! No previous experience required!  She is also trained in Somatic Experiencing, which is an approach that works directly with how trauma and resilience are stored in the body. This work is often useful for individuals who are experiencing concurrent physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. Lowry’s style is direct and relational. As a white, Jewish, queer counselor, she utilize a systems approach in her work exploring how individual and family histories, current family dynamics, culture, peer networks, and larger societal systems all impact our health and wellbeing. She also holds a deep awareness for how oppression and discrimination may impact the individual and our communities. Lowry has particular interest and experience in supporting LGBQ, transgender and gender non-conforming youth, individuals and family systems that have experienced trauma. She also has interest and experience in working with the physical symptoms that may be present as a result of trauma. 

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GOWRI SAVOOR (she/her)

Gowri is a visual-teaching artist, whose practice includes sculpture, illustration, and writing. Born in England, she moved to the US in 2007. Savoor has been a practicing teaching artist for over 20 years, with experience in arts integration and community building. Gowri is the instigator of A River of Light, a movement committed to bringing art to the community through participatory art events, installations, and lantern parades. She is also the co-founder of Teaching Artists Connect, an organization providing creative and inspiring professional development workshops for teaching artists and educators in North Carolina and beyond.

PDL Faculty

  Lead Sponsor  

National Endowment for the Arts logo
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