October Arts Leader Spotlight - Quanice Floyd, Executive Director of Arts Education in Maryland Schools
Quanice Floyd has a proven track record of centering voice and agency, engaging stakeholders across differences, and advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion. She has garnered national recognition, and continues to trademark her impact with a focus on the transformative power of community and the arts.
MSDE - When did you realize you were an artist?
Quanice - As a child, it was difficult for me to articulate that I was actually an “artist”. I just knew I was a musician and came up with ideas that were often “outside of the box”. I was always the person in class who thought differently and I didn’t let boundaries define me. My artistry, in particular, was formed when I was 6 years old. My mother passed away when I was 4 from cancer and my family wanted to get me into a hobby. So they tried to put me in dance classes because my older cousins were really good at it but we found out very soon that I wasn’t. Then they put me into piano lessons at the local community school. It was my experimentation with piano that helped me better understand who I am as an individual and taught me how to deal with my emotions. It also gave me opportunities to use my imagination through sound/song.
MSDE - How does creativity show up in your day?
Quanice - As the ED of AEMS, it’s my job to advocate for arts educators around the state and to solve critical problems that they face every day. In my everyday work, I reach out to arts leaders and discuss what is happening on the ground, in the classrooms, in organizations and what AEMS can do to help support them in their work. It takes creativity to be able to do that -- to solve problems, to try to help everyone, to provide resources. Being in this position is an exciting challenge and although I’ve just started about 2 months ago, I’m excited for the creative products, programs, advocacy strategies that will come into fruition in order to ensure that every single student in this state gets access to high quality arts education.
MSDE - Why does arts education matter to you?
Quanice - Arts education saved my life. It saved a lot of people’s lives. This is why it matters to me. It provided me with a voice when I felt like I didn’t have a voice, it gave me an escape to a world when I didn’t want to be bothered in reality, it kept me comfortable in times of need and I know that there are students, and even adults out there who are a true walking testimony of what the arts can do/has done for them.
MSDE - As a leader in Arts Education, what are your priorities for the coming year?
Quanice - I believe that Arts Education is a civil right because of the effects that it has on students regardless of their background, socio-economic status, race, etc… I know the power of having an arts education and what it can do for people. My priorities for this coming year looks at the arts from two lenses: the arts as a critical and vital tool to achieving educational equity, and achieving equity within arts education. This means understanding the arts as a tool for change no matter the topic (ex. Arts & trauma and healing, STEAM, Arts Integration, etc..) as well as ensure that arts education is equitably accessible to all.
MSDE - Share a recommendation of a book, artist, event, or piece of work that inspires you!
Quanice - A book that I currently love is We want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom by Dr. Bettina Love.
Quanice Floyd is the new Executive Director for Arts Education in Maryland Schools
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