Keeping the kids artistically engaged

From staff reports

School’s out, but creative thinking and learning never go on vacation. The Glen Arbor Arts Center’s visual art program for kids and teens keeps young minds engaged throughout the summer months. The GAAC offers a wide range of classes—from painting to collography to mixed media to bookmaking—where the focus is as much on fun as it is on enhancement.

Summer art classes take place at the GAAC, 6031 S. Lake St., Glen Arbor; and at the Thoreson Farm pottery shed, located in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. At the core of the GAAC’s kids and teens program are the instructors. The GAAC’s 2018 faculty is staffed by experienced teachers:

  • Empire resident Michele Aucello is an educator with 26 years of experience. Aucello taught first and second grade in Honolulu, Hawaii for 13 years as well as classes on Early Literacy at the University of Hawaii. This past winter Aucello successfully developed a new program for the GAAC called Little Artists,” which explores creative projects for preschool children and their parents/caregivers.
  • Sarah Cheek-Toomey is new to Leelanau County having moved from Kalamazoo to Empire in the fall of 2017. Cheek-Toomey holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education with a minor in Visual Arts from Michigan State University. She has spent the past 15 years in public education; most recently teaching elementary art while also serving as the Art Coordinator for Kalamazoo Public Schools. She earned a Master of Science in Ecological Teaching and Learning from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., in 2007 that enabled her to combine her passions of art education and the environment into her everyday work with children.
  • Julie Keck of Cedar has been teaching high school art at Traverse City West High School for nearly 14 years.  She received her Bachelor of Fine Art from Northern Michigan University in 2002 and received her Masters of Art in Art Education in 2007 from Western Michigan University.
  • Longtime Glen Arbor resident Nancy Miller is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University where she earned a bachelor of Art Education. She has taught art to children in summer programs at NMC and GAAC. She has helped to develop GAAC’s pottery program at Thoreson Farm.
  • Cedar resident Margaret Weeks is a seasoned art educator with a Master Degree in Art Education from Winthrop University, South Carolina and over 20 years teaching art to students of all ages. Teaching highlights include 11 years teaching elementary art in Charlotte, North Carolina, developing an in-service series for teachers to integrate the visual arts, and 8 seasons on the visual arts faculty at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp.

For more information about the GAAC’s kids and teens art programs, visit