Q&A with Taya Jackson: Meet YA’s New Program Coordinator

yellow and blue paper background with photos of Taya Jackson as a kid and today, with the worse, Welcome To The Team!
February 14, 2022 | emily@ya.org

Young Audiences Arts for Learning (YA) recently welcomed a new member to the national team! Taya Jackson has joined us as Program Coordinator, Network Initiatives.

In this new role, she will provide essential support for the execution and ongoing management of national initiatives at YA, including the Teaching Artist Credential, the Responsive Arts in School Education initiative, and professional learning convenings led by the YA National Office. 

Taya brings to YA years of project development and research support experience. While studying at Kutztown University for her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, she worked as a Research Assistant for three years, where she assisted in department research, conducting interviews, and data analysis.

After graduating, she served as the Education Coordinator for AmeriCorps in Pittsburgh for the immigrant and refugee initiative, All for All, building capacity for ESL educators and students in after-school programs. Taya then joined Alliance for Refugee Youth Support and Education (ARYSE), as the Girls Art and Maker Group Coordinator, where she highlighted SEL pedagogy to support young girls and non-binary students. She additionally has served with Forward Allies, a nonprofit focused on reproductive mental health, as the Project Coordinator, supporting programming, fundraising, and communications.

We sat down with Taya to learn why she believes the arts are so important for young learners, which aspect of her new role she’s most excited about, and more!


How have the arts impacted your learning and development? 

The arts make learning and growing bearable! Sometimes when I learn something new, it’s the newness that’s enjoyable. When those growing pains hit (personal or professionally), that can feel restricting. Art, whether I’m active in creating it or admiring another creation, really relieves that pressure to allow new ways of thinking and being!


Why do you think arts in education is so important for young people? 

Arts in education allows students to really process what’s going on in their lives. It allows young people to connect with themselves and their peers in an authentic and deep way. That deep connection helps to foster and illuminate what it means to be you. 


What drew you to the opportunity to work at YA?

The support. YA is a network that supports teaching artists to do what they do best in fostering creative learning to strengthen and nurture young people. Being a teacher is stressful and being an artist is stressful. YA’s network understands that and they said “let’s really work together” to change the landscape teachers and artists work in. I wanted to be a part of that because I believe that is what should be done to protect the future. 


What aspects of your new role at YA are you most excited about? 

I’m excited to connect with teaching artists and to learn from them! 


What are your favorite things to do when you are not working?

I love to learn about herbal medicine and other holistic practices. I love to be active, so I might be doing yoga, biking, or hiking. You can also catch me in museums, art shows, or concerts -- just enjoying the moment.


What are you reading/watching/listening to currently? 

I’ve been reading Nature, Man, and Woman by Alan Watts. I’ve also been dipping my toes into the pool of Jazz and listening to lots of Nigerian and Ethiopian musicians.  


Who is your biggest inspiration? 

My younger self. I want to be what she didn’t have and fulfill the dreams she had.


We are thrilled to welcome Taya to the team! Read more about Taya on the YA national staff page.