About Me


My name is Jacob Neal and I currently hold the Visual Arts Teacher position at Excel Academy in Denver. Excel Academy is a pathway high school serving students that have dropped out, been removed from traditional school(s), or are at-risk of completely dropping out of school all together. The greater part of student population are English Language Learners. Furthermore, the majority have also struggled with attendance and behavioral issues.

My educational experience is rooted in Chicago Illinois and includes a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design (University of Illinois at Chicago, 2001), and a Master’s degree in Art Education (Columbia College Chicago, 2012). I have also recently completed a Studio Arts Advanced Portfolio certification class at Cherry Creek High School in 2013 and am currently working on receiving my ELA-T certification within Denver Public Schools.

As the sole Visual Arts teacher at Excel Academy, I have been responsible for creating/modifying rigorous and engaging art curriculums based on data-driven instruction, National, State and Common Core standards, differentiation, the integration of core academic courses and student interests.

The majority of this website was created in the Summer of 2012 upon finishing my Master’s program at Columbia College in Chicago. I have recently gone through the site in order to edit and update pages. I’ve found myself spending a significant amount of time revisiting my ‘Teaching Philosophy’ and ‘Classroom Management’ pages. I, with the benefit of hindsight, can’t help to reflect and compare my practices in my experiences since I originally posted. I’m happy to say that most of my beliefs and practices remain the same. I will however, say that my experiences at Excel Academy have proven to be priceless and will follow me throughout my career.

One of my greatest strengths as an educator is my aspiration of being a lifelong learner. I’m continually researching, reflecting on and modifying my practices in order to continue to grow as a teacher. I welcome the opportunity to discuss how my experience and affection for art/art education with colleagues, possible employers, students or anyone who shares my passions. Feel free to take a look around my site and I thank you for your time.

Personal Statement (July 2012):

I’ve felt the need to create art since a very young age. I began, as many children do, with crayons, pencils, pens and markers. I recall my grandmother having an endless supply of printer paper and I often spent the majority of my Saturday mornings drawing pictures in her living room. Naturally, art became my favorite subject in school and, in hindsight; I feel extremely fortunate to have studied under some absolutely amazing art educators throughout my academic journey.

I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) with a BFA in Graphic Design in 2001. Right before my graduation, I began to feel that a career spent designing behind a computer screen was not going to be spiritually fulfilling. I decided to move to Colorado, to try find a seasonal job and vowed to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Nine years, five states and six cross-country moves later I decided to pursue a career in art education. The decision, neither sporadic nor irrational, had roots that reached back to my grade school days when I remembered feeling envious of my art teacher for the fact that she made a living teaching children about art. It was partly based on a missed opportunity in college when I had thought about pursuing a minor in art education. Mostly, the decision came out of a self-reflection when I realized how lucky I was to have had such fantastic art teachers, how they influenced not only my artistic skill set but also how I viewed the world and the people who inhabit it. Upon this realization, I felt the need to bestow the benefits of a solid art education on the future leaders of our world.

As a future art education, I hope to teach in a way that enables engaged, empowered and creative citizens to actively participate in their community, I plan on using artistic processes as a mechanism for teaching social context, self-awareness, and creative expression thus ensuring active and productive minds. My career goals include teaching in a manner that promotes community development, educating the whole child, and developing creative thinking in all of my students.


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