Two Shawnee High School teachers attend retreat at Quartz Mountain.

Shawnee High School teachers Ann Palmer and Marian Salwierak recently returned from Quartz Mountain, where they participated in the Oklahoma Fall Arts Institute (OFAI), a series of weekend retreats taught by nationally renowned artists. In conjunction with acceptance, Shawnee educators received full scholarships to the program.

"I came to OFAI to learn how to use my camera effectively and how to produce quality photographs," said Salwierak, a yearbook advisor and English teacher. "Through class and practice, I have gained confidence in these areas."

True beginners and professional artists alike can find OFAI workshops that fit their expertise and interests in a variety of classes, including painting, photography, printmaking, writing, dancing, theater, and arts integration. OFAI also offers workshops for core curriculum and special needs educators. The program is held at the Quartz Mountain Arts and Conference Center in southwest Oklahoma, an ideal retreat for arts immersion.

Every year, the Oklahoma Arts Institute reaches over 50,000 Oklahoma public school children through their teachers' attendance at OFAI. Oklahoma public school educators automatically receive full scholarships to attend OFAI, including tuition, room and board. Shawnee educators were sponsored by the Oklahoma State Department of Education, BancFirst Charitable Foundation, and The Raymond and Bessie Kravis Foundation, with additional support from the Oklahoma Arts Council.

This summer, Oklahoma high school students can study with the nation’s top artists at the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, held June 14 – 29, 2014. Auditions for this prestigious program begin in January at locations across the state, and all accepted students automatically receive a full scholarship to the program, worth over $2,500. More information is available at