Last weekend we held our Tennessee Art Education Fall Conference at Memphis College of Art (MCA). We were so excited about returning to this venue for our conference. Large spacious rooms, inspiring student work adorning the hallways, high open natural light studios and located on the grounds of the most beautiful park in Memphis that is just now beginning to show signs of autumn foliage. So many of our members have connections to this lovely school and this lovely place, but then again, so do most Memphians. However, for those of us with those connections, this event was bittersweet as we all learned on the first day of the conference, that due to financial issues and lower enrollment, Memphis College of Art will be closing it's doors for good by 2020. It is somewhat ironic that the theme of our conference was, "Every Artist Tells a Story." Indeed we all do have a story and our story is worth telling..Art Schools, like MCA are excellent at bringing forth those stories and validating them through the vehicle of visual art. Meaningful art making is all about the story. Recently in my 8th Grade Art Classroom, we spent two days exploring universal themes in preparation for their self-portraits. Students were to select the theme that they could most identify with in order to select the way they executed their portraits. Students stories ranged from being bullied and facing pressures to being ignored. Some students expressed overcoming gossip and adversity while others chose to demonstrate finding light in the midst of darkness. My concerns about spending two complete class periods in exploration of these universal concepts soon vanished when I saw the strength and power of the art that resulted. Personal voice heard loud and clear! Some executed more of a accurate likeness, but even those students who wandered a bit from the gridded photo still found a way for skillful expression..because they had a story to tell..A story that was welcomed..a story that found a place among the walls of my art room. Hopefully those students who will not complete their story at MCA, will find a way to continue to speak through their art. That is indeed the best way to keep their story alive and the memory of that iconic school in the heart of our city.