Teaching Artist Jess Finney with Upstream Arts participants

Teaching Artist Jessica Finney with Upstream Arts participants


Recently Teaching Artist Jessica Finney (who also serves as our Program and Client Liaison) shared this brief reflection with us on her training and teaching experiences with Upstream Arts. We loved it so much that we asked her if we could share it on our blog – happily, she said yes. Enjoy! 


I’ve been working with Upstream Arts for nearly four years. During that time, I have gained invaluable experience working with students with disabilities.

In addition to the countless hours I’ve spent in direct contact with students, I’ve also received hours of training specific to each population with whom I’ve worked, including trainings focused on Developmental and Cognitive Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and Visual Impairments.

When I step into a Special Education classroom, I feel prepared on a number of levels. Above the numerous trainings and hours spent teaching is the basic human connection that comes with working with students of any ability. There are universal characteristics of five year olds or ten year olds, regardless of whether or not that student receives Special Education services. Kids are kids.

Working with Upstream Arts has increased my ability to connect with humans. As an artist, that is always my goal. The trainings on specific disabilities have contributed to that, as have the countless hours in the classroom working with students with disabilities. Don’t let the word “disability” fool you; it’s just a word. I’m a better artist today than I was four years ago because I’ve connected with hundreds of children who just happen to have a disability.


To learn more about Jessica Finney and all of our Teaching Artists, click here