Delving Into Difference


Robyne Walker Murphy, Keynote Speaker (Saturday, November 4, 2017)

Robyne is a nationally recognized art and social justice educator and administrator.  In November, she began her appointment as Executive Director at Groudswell, New York City’s premier organization dedicated to advancing the practice of public artmaking.

Previous to her position at Groundswell, Robyne served as director of membership development and engagement at the National Guild for Community Arts Education, working closely with a national network of community arts organizations. Robyne created the Guild’s first network for leaders of color in the arts, ALAANA (African, Latin, Asian, Arabic, Native American) to raise the profile of work being led by people of color (POC) in the arts, increase POC access to sustained resources, and invest in the growth and leadership of people of color in the field of community arts education.

This role was deeply rooted in her work serving for seven years as the director of the DreamYard Art Center, located on the ground floor of an affordable housing unit in the Morrisania section of the Bronx. Under her leadership, DreamYard Art Center’s offerings expanded from three programs serving high school students to 16 multi-disciplinary art and college readiness programs for young people in grades PreK-12. In 2012, DreamYard Art Center was recognized by the White House as one of the top 12 out of school programs in the nation. Robyne accepted the award from First Lady Michelle Obama at a White House ceremony. During her tenure at DreamYard, Robyne also led the organization through the development of several arts and social justice programming and community engagement initiatives.She created and co-developed DreamYard’s Social Justice Pedagogy Team, a professional development series aimed at establishing important tenets of social justice education; creating common language across programs; exploring best practices; and learning from veteran social justice educators. Some of the guest lecturers have included: Professor Noam Chomksy (MIT); Dr. Susan Wilcox and Khary Lazarre-White from Brotherhood Sister Sol (Harlem, New York), Dr. William Ayers (University of Illinois at Chicago), Linda Christensen (Lewis and Clark College), Dr. Ernest Morrell (Teachers College, Columbia University) and Dr. Michelle Fine (CUNY Graduate Center).

Robyne has conducted workshops about art and social justice at conferences and institutions across the country including: New York University, City College, the Bronx Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, and the National Guild’s Conference for Community Arts Education (Chicago/Los Angeles). She served as chair of the social justice cohort at the National Creative Youth Development Summit in Boston in 2014.  She was a practitioner faculty member at the Community Arts Education Leadership Institute in summer (2015). Her writing on social justice education has been featured in Teachers and Writers and Teaching Artist Guild magazines. Robyne is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University where she majored in English with an emphasis in African American Literature. She has delivered keynote addresses on liberatory education at the University of Chicago and the Seattle Museum of Art.

Robyne obtained her MFA in acting from the University of Washington’s Professional Actor Training Program. She resides in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, Tarik Murphy and her son, Ras.

MB_3Michael Bonner, Keynote Speaker (Sunday, November 5, 2017)

I wish I could go back to second grade, so Mr.Bonner could be my teacher,” were the words Ellen Degeneres released on her social media accounts in early January 2017. This is when she learned of how Mr. Bonner’s unique, rap-filled teaching methods encouraged students to go above and beyond on a reading test.

Mr. Bonner is an inspiring second grade teacher at North Carolina’s South Greenville Elementary, where the majority of students have strenuous familial dynamics and many are homeless. The school is 100% FRL (free and reduced lunch) and is located in an impoverished neighborhood in Eastern North Carolina.

His efforts to change the proficiency learning culture have also captured attention from other national news outlets. NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, Flocabulary, the Ashton Kutcher Foundation, and Remind all released stories on how Mr. Bonner is utilizing music as a tool to help counter the negative statistical data concerning children living in poverty. He’s had the privilege of speaking at NC State University, the American Association for Blacks in Higher Education, and various other institutions, delivering powerful messages on improving student performance and resilience.

With only four years in K-12 education, Mr. Bonner is consistently seen as a visionary leader who strives to create a positive mindset among all of his students. He understands that his students come to class each day with diverse backgrounds, strengths, needs, and challenges, and seeks to identify strategies to ensure the growth of their social, emotional, academic, and psychological needs. Because of his approach to education, students leave feeling a little more hopeful, challenged, inspired, and forever a part of Bonnerville! The song and video his class made about their love of reading, entitled “Who, What, Where, and Why,” recently went viral and Mr. Bonner’s practice has become an inspiration for how arts can successfully be integrated into a variety of classroom settings.