• Giving Tuesday 2022
  • Atlanta Table at KC
  • Docents at KC Symposium
  • Reception at Nelson-Atkins
  • KC Symposium WWI Museum
  • Breakout session

During this season of thanksgiving, I am grateful for this docent and guide community that spans the United States, Canada and beyond. For 40 years, the NDSC has helped us connect with one another. Your participation in, and support of, this organization drives us forward and allows the NDSC to continue expanding resources and activities for you and your peers.

Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving, is November 29th this year. We make this once-a-year request of our community to support the following:

  • More robust virtual programming. Look for an invitation to a webinar presented by one of the NDS Kansas City breakout session teams in January.
  • Educational grants for first-time attendees to attend the symposium.
  • Touring handbooks and other instructional resources.
  • Regional conversations throughout the year on topics of interest to docents and guides.

To give a gift in any amount now through Dec. 31, please visit the donation page here.

On behalf of the National Docent Symposium Council, thank you for your support.

With appreciation,

Michelle Carpenter, President, NDSC

Reflecting on the power of poetry in art 

by Gail Paredes-Ewen, Docent, Phoenix Art Museum

Recently, at the National Docent Symposium, we had the privilege of listening to a talk
given by poet, activist, educator, and Director of Inclusive Learning and Creative Impact at
the Kansas City Museum, Glenn North. Mr. North has a very impressive list of
accomplishments and collaborations and his title alone made me want to be him when I
grow up.  But it was his poetry most of all that moved me and even brought me to tears. 

The Breakout Sessions at the National Docent Symposium are among the most anticipated activities during the three-day event. This year was no exception, with full rooms, great participation and plenty of helpful takeaways. While we may not be in Kansas City anymore, we can still benefit from the wisdom shared during the 30+ presentations. Materials from these sessions are now available on our website here.  You’ll find topics categorized into six areas: School Touring; Audience Engagement; Touring Specialty Populations; Recruitment, Training and Review; Technology; and Other Docent Activities.

Please use these materials for educational, non-commercial purposes only.

Thank you to all our wonderful presenters. We appreciate you sharing your experiences, ideas and practices with docents and guides everywhere.


The NDSC welcomed a new president at the symposium in Kansas City and said goodbye to an able leader as she retired to an advisory role on the board. Madelyn Mayberry (right) stepped down from her position at the helm of NDSC after three years of hard work in uncharted territory. Michelle Carpenter (left) has stepped into her new role as president. Read here Michelle's closing remarks as she celebrated accomplishments and looked to the future.

It takes the collaboration of many to create a successful symposium. By all accounts, NDS 2022, Get Connected. Get inspired. Get Kansas City!, was a rousing success!  The National Docent Symposium Council extends sincere gratitude to the host site, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, their director and staff, and all the volunteers from the Nelson-Atkins and from their many partner museums and sites across the city.

Most particular thanks go to Symposium co-chairs Pati Chasnoff, Carol Cowden, Julie Haas and Denise Saper for their tireless efforts in the years, months and weeks leading up to the Symposium and throughout the days we spent in Kansas City.

Despite the one-year postponement due to the pandemic, the entire team persevered with renewed energy, flexibility and determination. Thank you for an unforgettable and rewarding experience!

 Building on the 2017 Docent Handbook 2, the National Docent Symposium Council has published Tours with Children and Teens: A Handbook for Docents and Guides. The new
publication enhances and deepens information and guidance for touring with children pre-K through high school, home schoolers and multi-aged groups, and those with special needs. Practical help and suggestions are enlivened with lots of examples from a variety of museums, and illustrated with color photographs.  The approaches presented throughout the handbook are equally relevant for in-person and virtual tours.

Co-authors Lindsay Noonan McAuliffe and Betsy Vourlekis (both from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, Freer and Sackler Galleries) and Jan Thorman (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore) have drawn on their own years of experience as docents, input from other docents and guides, and lots of research, to bring you this exciting and informative handbook.  We hope that it will inspire confidence and enjoyment for the important work of docents and guides with young visitors.

For more information or to purchase a printed or digital version, please click on the link in the sidebar or visit this page.  


Betsy Vourlekis Jan Thorman NDS 2019Lindsay McAuliffe NDS

In this 40th Ruby Anniversary year of NDSC we are highlighting the efforts of dedicated volunteers to bring best practices to our docent/guide community.

Betsy Vourlekis, Jan Thorman and Lindsay McAuliffe (pictured, left to right) are experienced docents who took on the task of researching and writing the new NDSC Handbook Touring with Children and Teens. Shelagh Barrington explains how the co-authors' combined backgrounds, extensive research, and input from other docents and guides  have resulted in a professional and engaging roadmap for docent/guides.

Read the full article here.

The Docent Handbook 2 

Now available in two versions, digital and print.

For more information and ordering instructions, click this LINK.

Be a Resource!  We welcome articles for publication on the NDSC website. 


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Donation button homepage PNG 2021

KC National Docent Sym Logo Sept 2022

Tours with Children and Teens Handbook Cover