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Another Arts Teachers’ Story: Jake Sturtevant

May 1, 2012

Featuring one teacher’s journey as an arts educator

This is the seventh in a series of blog posts telling arts teachers’ stories. This series will contain a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read educators stories and to learn from others.

Jake Sturtevant has been teaching High School Instrumental Music at Bonny Eagle High School (SAD6) in Standish Maine. He has taught there for 3 years, and before that he was at Washington Academy in East Machias for 3 years. He currently teaches Band, Guitar, Music Appreciation, Improvisation, and Songwriting. He also runs the after school Pep Band, Jazz Band, and Jazz Combo.

Jake has been a Teacher Leader in the first phase of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative.

2. What do you like best about being a music educator?

Seeing students acquire a passion and understanding of why we as humans need the arts in our lives. I also like the fact that I can go in on any given day and I could be randomly invited to play a game of hacky sack or Ninja, and that’s OK!

3. Tell me what you think are three keys to ANY successful arts ed program?

  1. Bb Major  = Comfort
  2. G Minor = Connections
  3. Ab, C, D, Eb, E, G, Bb= Creation

4. What specific way(s) do your assessment practices tie into the success of your program?

If my assessments reflect the expectations they would have in a real-world music environment then I feel I have helped them prepare adequately.
I have a variety of assessments including performance assessments, self-assessments, concert reflections, essays, theory worksheets, and composition and improvisation activities. All of these assessments are there to make sure I can give specific feedback, and students can illustrate they can respond to that feedback and focus on what they need to do to develop on a particular skill or concept. This specific feedback and goal-setting is so much more helpful and productive then randomly assigning a symbol (letter or number).

5. What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

Squash Pizza = Connections to interesting people
Building Airplanes in the Air = Doing it all on the fly with the help of some co-workers
E=mc2 makes a Bomb = Concepts to practice
Wicket Wystri Warrick = Just because I am a geek.

6. What are you most proud of in your career?

That when I feel like I finally get to the surface I remember to grab a snorkel as quick as I can.

7. What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

Pride and laziness. Did I just say that?

8. Apple or PC?

Depends on the task. Apple most of the time though. Red delicious is my favorite!

9. What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

Working as a music educator in a public school with a degree in Music Composition.

10. Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

I see in a man…  no a woman…. oh, I just can’t tell, but he or she seems to be on a quest of some sort, a journey…….  no, they are playing a board game with lots of pieces that are hard to figure out which one goes where. They might think they got it figured out, and they say  “Alright, I’ll give it a try”, and then a tiny green thing says, “No! Do, or Do not, there is no try.”  So when the X-wing doesn’t come out of the swamp they get all discouraged, and think their life is over, but they don’t realize that sometimes it takes more then strength to prevail.
Now I see a broom…. no a witch…. A witch on a broom, laughing with that sinister type laugh as she tries to zap you with her very fake lightning bolts that come from her fingers, and she says “I’ll get you my pretty… and your little dog too!” And she tries to stifle you by giving you more mandates and paperwork, and by the way you have to be on the Emerald City committee too. And you grumble and complain, and think your life is over and you will be in prison for the rest of your life with all these green men who sing “Yo, he, ho” all day long. But then you realize that all it takes is a bucket of water, and a few friends, and life isn’t so bad after all. All that worrying and complaining didn’t really do you much good did it? Remember: it’s really about the friends you’ve made, and search for new buckets of water.

11. If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

I would travel with my family to a place where people are truly happy and thankful for anything they are given because they may have very close to nothing. And then I would spend a year with them getting to know them and hear their stories, laugh, cry, and play. Then I would give each of them or an organization that would help them the money. And of course we would create together in the process.

Thank you Jake for taking the time to tell your story in such a creative way!

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