Arcak, Cory L. (2019-12). Teacher Perceptions of the Implementation of an Arts Program: Rules! Rules! @#$&*#% Rules - When Do We Give Up on a Child in the Foster Care System?. Doctoral Dissertation.
This year long project was designed to provide children in the foster care and juvenile justice systems with a way to express themselves through art created under the constraints of institutional boundaries. Youth in a Central Texas residential treatment center (RTC) were provided with opportunities and materials to express themselves through their own artistic creations; paintings, sculpture, performance, while engaging with local community arts spaces and adults that served as teachers, but were not formally trained as teachers. These "teachers" consisted of a combination of RTC staff, RTC volunteers, and local artists. Due to institutional constraints, I was unable to interview and research the youth directly. Access to the youth was only available through these teachers and the RTC administrators. Using an autoethnographic research methodology, I conducted open-ended interviews, made observations, and detailed personal reflections of the implementation of an arts-informed, community supported arts program called the TreeHouse project. This research was conducted in an effort to address the problem of the lack of representation, space, and method for the "voice" of children in the juvenile justice and foster care systems. As a result of this study, a set of themes emerged that offer additional insight into autoethnographic research, residential treatment centers, the youth in the RTCs, and the perceptions of the teachers during the implementation of the TreeHouse Project. The three primary themes identified through this research were the constructing or keeping of distance, a crisis of ego and self-discovery. These thematic explorations offer possibilities about the significance of this study and its implications for future research. They lend the stage to the proleptic moment when some of the teachers were able to reflect and understand how their own behavior was hindering the healing of the youth in their care.