Thompson said, “It was a tremendous opportunity to interact with leaders from across the country vitally committed to promoting the power of the arts for all children and youth, and specifically for those who are often-marginalized students with special needs, whether cognitive, physical, social or socioeconomic.”
The forum was comprised of 50 leaders from various areas of higher education, K-12 education and special education, individuals with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities, to create goals and action plans in response to the issues, potentialities and accessibility of arts and arts education for youth with disabilities.
The forum, which was by invitation only, addressed future trends in education and issues at the crux of students and young adults with disabilities, the arts, K-12 education and special education. Thompson facilitated the forum’s Professional Development focus group.
“When we are talking about the arts,” Thompson continued, “it's about educating the whole child … it is important to remember that all students deserve the opportunity to enrich their lives through engaging in the inherent beauty of the arts.”
The forum was initiated by the director of Very Special Arts (VSA) and Accessibility at the Kennedy Center, Betty Siegel. VSA was founded in 1974 by Jean Kennedy Smith as the National Committee on Arts for the Disabled, later changed to VSA, and is now under the direction of the Kennedy Center. Thompson met with Siegel as well as the U.S. Department of Education’s Secretary of Special Education and Rehabilitative Service, Dr. Alexa Posny.
Thompson is the former chair of the Music Education Special Interest Group of AERA and the immediate past-chair of the National Society for Music Teacher Education.
Thompson currently serves as co-editor for the book series Advances in Music Education Research, with Volume 5 — "Situating Inquiry: Expanded Venues for Music Education Research" — scheduled for release in August 2012.