Visit to Etna-Dixmont SchoolFebruary 28, 2013
Jen Nash, Music teacher Extraordinaire
For quite a while elementary music teacher Jen Nash and I had been trying to schedule a time for me to visit her school and it finally happened the week before February break. I had the full visit from meeting teachers, administrators, lunch in the teachers room, playground duty, and the best part was being in Jen’s classroom.
I arrived in time for a kindergarten class. I am always impressed with elementary music teachers and the energy it takes to teach and Jen was no exception! Moving from one activity to the next challenging the students as they were introduced to a variety of concepts and building on ones mastered from previous lessons. Ongoing assessment was evident throughout the lesson. Jen keeps her ipad close by making notes throughout.
The students went on a “bear hunt” and flipped between being a blur of movement to silent movers to climbing and slithering and sliding through different environments. Throughout the lesson students were engaged in their learning, enthusiastic, happy, and able to move at their pace. Their motor coordination, movements, personal space, interactions with their classmates were tapped throughout the song. And all the while they were singing and dancing! Jen interwove literacy throughout the lesson providing students the opportunity to know success as they relied on each other and worked individually.
I had the chance to be there for an individual saxophone lesson, 5th grade band, and the middle jazz band practice as they readied for the competition scheduled later in the week. Which, by the way, they received a 1-rating and will go on to the state competition – congratulations! During my visit Jen played the sax, trombone, and the drums.
I had a chance to speak to principal Jane Stork who is proud of the work that Jen and the students are doing in music education. Superintendent Greg Potter stopped by for a visit as well. I lucked out for lunch since it was the teachers once a month pot luck. The theme was Mardi Gras and the choices were all very yummy!
A great big THANK YOU to Jen for inviting me and the opportunity to see her and the students “in action” – a wonderful day at Etna-Dixmont School!
Jen has been an integral part of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) as a first phase teacher leader. When I arrived in her classroom I noticed written on the board the saying: “Music… can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.” ~Leonard Bernstein. Jen told me that she had gotten the idea to write a quote on the board by phase 2 teacher leader Jane Kirton from Sanford High School. It was a reminder to me that the MAAI is about fulfilling its mission of “Creating an environment in Maine where assessment in arts education is an integral part of the work all arts educators do to deepen student learning in the Arts” AND so much more! The importance of bringing arts teachers together to exchange ideas, ask questions, provide alternatives, and share best practices is ongoing. I invite you to join the work and play at one of the upcoming MAAI Mega-regional and/or regional workshops.